HOD on tight – hidden creativity is coming out this September
Image credit: Heritage Open Days
Astounding Inventions are at the forefront of Heritage Open Days across England this September.
European Open Days take place across 50 countries and include Heritage Open Days in England and, with slightly perverse naming, Doors Open Days in Scotland and Open Doors Days in Wales.
Taking place September 9-18 2022, the English events have a theme this year of 'Astounding Inventions'.
Labelled as England’s largest festival of history and culture, Heritage Open Days (HOD) comprises specific events and access to places that are normally hidden. And it’s all free. Led by the National Trust, HOD is supported by People’s Postcode Lottery and run by thousands of local organisations and volunteers.
This year’s theme of Astounding Inventions offers a celebration of the creations that make our lives easier as well as the imaginative inventors behind them. Alongside these stories of creative successes, the festival will also include some of the blunders, fads and failures that pepper England’s rich history of innovation.
Liam Montgomery, Heritage Open Days marketing and projects manager, says: “We’re thrilled to be focusing in on inventions for this year’s festival, as they offer such an exciting lens for examining heritage. From the humble chocolate bar to the World Wide Web, England has an incredibly diverse history of innovation and discovery. We wanted to celebrate this by sharing stories from across the regions to really showcase the ingenuity and hard work behind them. Once again, we’re very excited to see what our community put together!”
At the time of writing there are 332 events of which 261 fall under the Astounding Inventions banner. Here is a very brief taste of what is on offer:
BFI National Film & Television Archive, Hertfordshire
Saturday 17 September – 10:30am-4pm
The British Film Institute is opening the doors to the John Paul Getty Jnr Conservation Centre, providing rare access to the specialist skills, technology and stores which support the conservation of the BFI National Collection. There will be technical demonstrations detailing video preservation and film inspection, talks from the Curatorial and, for the first time, the BFI Reuben Library team will have a display showcasing some of the treasures from their vaults.
Newark Castle Comes to Life: Astounding Inventions, Nottinghamshire
Saturday 17 September – 10am-4pm
Newark Castle, site of the death of the unpopular King John in 1219, is putting on ‘a sensational science show’ which will highlight the weird and wonderful inventions from the castle’s history.
The Intact Centre – Dobcroft: Two Thousand Years of Tech, Lancashire
Saturday 10 September – 11am-3pm
Tech has shaped our relationship with the natural environment over thousands of years. Visit ‘Dobcroft’, a gated nature reserve that is not normally open to the public, and try your hand cutting grass with a scythe or turning freshly cut wood on a pole lathe before stepping firmly into the 21st century with virtual-reality nature reserve tours, QR code guides, digital macro photography and pond dipping with magnification pots.
The Invention of the Apple – Museum of Cider, Herefordshire
Saturday 10 September – 10:30am-4:30pm
Find out about the fascinating characters involved with the science of pomology, from John Evelyn in the 17th century to the modern-day, and how they invented new methods of growing this versatile fruit to suit eating or drinking: DNA testing, grafting and creating of new varieties.
There’s plenty more to choose from. The British Lawnmower Museum in Lancashire will have talks and tours looking at this British invention and obsession; in Beverley, North Yorkshire, there is a talk by internationally acclaimed historian of gas, Professor Russell Thomas, on the origins and development of the industry and how Beverley came to be lit by the gas lamps that still stand today; at Great Linford Manor Park, Milton Keynes, you can learn more about the Industrial Revolution, the Grand Union Canal, and take the opportunity to step aboard community electric canal boat, Electra (pictured below); and at the British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum, London, there are rare pre-war radios and television sets as well as the opportunity to learn about advances in technology during a century of broadcasting.
Check out the websites at the top of the article for the latest listing of events going on.
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