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Free family days out in Cheshire, Manchester and Staffordshire                        13th to the 22nd September 2019.

Free family days out in Cheshire, Manchester and Staffordshire 13th to the 22nd September 2019.

Heritage Open Days are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year and are giving families the opportunity to visit over 2000 historical places of interest throughout England completely FREE of charge. Celebrate England’s largest festival of history and culture by exploring some key family favourites, alongside some hidden treasures not normally open to the public.


Here is a small selection of events to help you bring history to life for your little historians. For more day out inspiration or details of upcoming events in your area, visit 


If you wish to skip ahead feel free as we have placed venues in alphabetical order so you can scroll to see if your favorite is listed. Our Merseyside round up is on its way.


What will you discover?

Image kindly provided by Anderton Boat lift for use by CIWK 

*Anderton Boat Lift

When: 21st to 22nd September from 9.30am until 5pm. Guided tours are available at 10.30, 12.00 and 2.15pm.

Where:  Anderton Boat lift, Lift Lane, Anderton, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 6FW

Prebook? For guided tours yes. For other talks theres no need to book. Telephone 01606 786777.

Description: The free Top of the World Tour is a unique opportunity to be guided around the Anderton Boat Lift and see it as Lift Operators have since Victorian Times. The Anderton Boat Lift is a Victorian marvel situated in fully accessible landscaped grounds. Take our guided Top of the World Tour and learn the history of this Victorian masterpiece whilst enjoying the panoramic views from the top of the lift.

Access restrictions? Tour not suitable for people with a fear of heights.

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


* Alexandra Park Manchester

When: Friday 13 September with films at 7pm in the Pavilion Café. Sunday 15 September with the Afro Eden Picnic between 12 and 3pm, Chorlton Lodge is open from 1 until 3pm and the talk at 1.45pm.  

Where:  Chorlton Lodge, Claremont Rd, Moss Side, Manchester , Greater Manchester, M16 7JL

Prebook? No

Description: Watch a film about the Suffragists, hear a talk about Edwin Watkin, or return to paradise for a special Afro Eden Picnic! Darren Pritchard Dance, Z-Arts and Alexandra Park invite you to return to paradise. Head to the carved tree by the lake to enjoy dance, music and merriment for the whole family. Bring a picnic and come ready for stories and fun.

Access restrictions? No.


*Avro Heritage Museum

When: 22nd September from 10am until 5pm.

Where:  Woodford Aerodrome , Chester Road, Woodford, Stockport, Cheshire, SK7 1QS

Prebook? No

Description: The story of Avro aircraft manufacture and its place in world aviation design. You will be able to enter a Lancaster cockpit as well as a Vulcan and VC10 cockpit. Hunt a submarine in the Nimrod sonar buoy station and have a go on the flight simulator.

Access restrictions? No


* Battle of Britain Day – The Spitfire

When: 15th September 2019 from 2pm until 3pm.

Where:  The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Bethesda Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 3DW

Prebook? No

Description: As a member of Operation Spitfire, and the founder of the Staffordshire Film Archive, Ray Johnson MBE is uniquely placed to explore the legacy of the Spitfire through words and archive footage. Discover more about Stoke-on-Trent’s links with this iconic World War Two aircraft, including the story of the city’s own Spitfire, RW388, currently being restored by Medway Aircraft Preservation Society.

Access restrictions? None stated.

Image credit belongs to National Trust, Biddulph Grange Garden. 

* Biddulph Grange Garden

When: 13th and 14th September 2019 from 9.30am to 5.30pm.

Where:  Biddulph Grange National Trust, Grange Road, Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST8 7SD

Prebook? No

Description: Explore the Victorian garden and unique Geological Gallery. Discover more about the history of Biddulph Grange and its place as a horticultural, quirky masterpiece. Join one of volunteers for one of our pop-up tours or talks.

Access restrictions? There are over 400 steps into and around the garden, gradients throughout and gravel paths

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


* Can You Dig It?

When: 21st September from 10.30 and childrens excavation at 3pm.

Where:  The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Bethesda Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 3DW

Prebook? No simply drop in.

Description: Join members of Connect Archaeology throughout the day to learn about how archaeologists uncover the archaeology beneath our feet and what the team has been finding during their work on HS2. And why not end the day at 3pm by letting your children join the excavation team for a mock-up excavation. They will have an opportunity to dig up objects, get dirty and enjoy themselves! 

Access restrictions? None stated


* Chester Cathedral

When: 14 September plus 17 to 21st September from 9am until 5pm.

Where:  Chester Cathedral Enterprises Ltd, 12 Abbey Square, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2HU

Prebook? You do not need to book to view the Cathedral or the family events but pre-booking is essential for some of the events such as the guided tours.

Description: Chester Cathedral is offering a varied programme of events for adults and children. Chester Cathedral is many things to many people; a vibrant community of worship, an ancient Abbey, a cultural hub, & a unique blend of modern and medieval history. Events that are happening during Heritage Open Days include a variety of tours, an organ recital, a stonemasonry demonstration. For families, take part in the Monk’s trail, colouring in table, dress up box and a super exciting selfie zone.

Access restrictions: Some areas of the Cathedral are not accessible but the Cloisters will be.

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


* Cheshire Military Museum

When: 14th and 15th September from 10am until 5pm.

Where:  Cheshire Military Museum, The Castle, Grosvenor Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2DN

Prebook? No

Description: Take a look at Cheshire’s Military past. The Cheshire Military Museum in Chester, tells the story of Cheshire Soldiers from the 17th century to the present day. A museum quiz is also normally available.

Access restrictions: All areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible, however floors are uneven in some places. 

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


* Chester City Baths

When: 14th September from 10am until 4pm.

Where: Chester Swimming Association, Chester City Baths, Union Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 1QP

Prebook? No

Description: A chance to visit Chester City Baths following an extensive renovation. Opened in 1901, the John Douglas designed baths recently re-opened after extensive renovation funded by Cheshire West & Chester Council, enabling their continued use for many aquatic activities.

Access restrictions: Front entry is by steps. To view the largest pool you will need to climb stairs.

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit

Chester Cathedral. Copyright belongs to CIWK 

* Chester Racecourse Guided Walking Tour

When: 19th September from 11am until 12.30.

Where:  Chester Racecourse, New Crane Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2LY

Prebook? Prebooking is essential. Please book via eventbrite or telephone 01244 972115.

Description: The oldest racecourse in the UK is also the site of the Roman port. The tour tells the story of nearly 2000 years of local history, & nearly 500 years of racing as it meanders from City Walls to Grandstands, Parade Ring & stables.

Access restrictions: The walking tour includes steep steps from the City Walls to the Racecourse so it is not suitable for wheelchair access, pram users (slings would be best) or for those with walking difficulties.

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


* Chester Railway Station Tour

When: 14th September from 2pm until 3.30pm.

Where:  Chester Railway Station, City Road, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 1NS

Prebook? Essential as numbers are limited. Please book via eventbrite or telephone 01244 972115.

Description: Listen & learn about the history of Chester Railway Station, which was officially opened on 1 August 1848. Thomas Brassey was the builder & contractor.

Access restrictions: There is lift access for pram and wheelchair users to all platforms.


* Claymills Victorian Pumping Station

When: 14th and 15th September from 10am until 5pm.

Where:  Claymills Pumping Engines Trust, The Victorian Pumping Station, Meadow Lane, Stretton, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, DE13 0DA

Prebook? No

Description: The 4 giant Gimson beam engines, together with more than 20 smaller engines are on view, as well as the Victorian steam powered workshop and blacksmith’s forge, and the oldest working steam powered dynamo set in the country. Children can dress in Victorian clothes, and build meccano models

Access restrictions? The ground floor is accessible to all; there are staircases, and no lifts or chair lifts.


* Crime and Punishment in Victorian Belper (ok so a little further afield)

When: 14th September from 9am until 1pm.

Where:  No 28 Community Hall, 28 Market Place, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1FZ

Prebook? No

Description: This is a display of research by a local U3A group into crime and punishment in 19th century Belper. It will give a picture of the range of crimes from petty theft to murder and show that transportation, execution and imprisonment were commonplace punishments for what today seem petty crimes.

Access restrictions? Largely wheelchair and pram accessible but the toilet is accessed via 4 steps.

Dunham Massey. Image copyright belongs to CIWK 

*Dunham Massey

When: 14th September. Please see website for opening times.

Where:  National Trust, Dunham Massey Hall, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ

Prebook? No

Description: A garden for all seasons, an ancient deer park and a house filled with treasures and stories awaits at Dunham Massey.  Families can pick up a Percy the Park Keeper activity trail to find out about the autumnal habitats of Dunham’s woodland animals and birds.

Access restrictions? Accessible grounds and gardens, flat paths with firm surfaces. Cobbled area which can be avoided, map available. Access to the house is limited.

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


* Grosvenor Museum

When: 14th September from 10.30am to 5pm with tours at 12 and 2pm. 15th September from 1pm to 4pm with tours at 2pm.

Where:  Grosvenor Museum & Shop, 25-27 Grosvenor Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2DD

Prebook? No but tour numbers are restricted so your place is not guaranteed. Drop in only.

Description: Enjoy a tour of the Grosvenor Museum or follow the self-guided Family Heritage Trail. A purpose built, Grade II listed museum, opened in 1886. Designed by Thomas M Lockwood to house the collections of Charles Kingsley and the Chester Society for Natural Science.

Access restrictions: Partially accessible. Stairs only to first floor. 

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


*Lewis Caroll centre

When: 15th and 22nd September from 2pm until 4pm

Where:  Lewis Carroll Centre, Daresbury Lane, Daresbury, Warrington, Cheshire, WA4 4AE

Prebook? No

Description: Join a guided tour and find out how ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is connected to Daresbury when you visit All Saints Church and the Lewis Carroll Visitor Centre. Church and Centre open every day from 10am for self-guided visits.

Access restrictions?  Access is limited at certain times by Church services. 

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


*Lion Salt Works

When: 21st September from 12 noon until 4pm.

Where:  Lion Salt Works, Ollershaw Lane, Marston, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 6ES

Prebook? No

Description: Lion Salt Works has undergone an astonishing restoration funded by HLF. It tells the stories of brine salt production, the people that worked in the area and the impact of salt on Northwich. Free admission and 30 minute “Taster Tours” at regular intervals.

Access restrictions: None mentioned.

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


Lyme Park. Image copyright belongs to CIWK 

*Lyme Park

When: 21st September from 10.30am until 5pm

Where: Lyme, Disley, Stockport, Cheshire, SK12 2NR 

Prebook? No

Description: Head to Lyme and explore 1400 acres of historic deer park, including extensive formal gardens and a grand country house. Join in with crafting activities, or head outside for a range of sports and games, some of which have been played in the grounds at Lyme for centuries. Have a chat with our volunteers and staff to learn more of the hidden histories and stories of this 600-year old estate.

Access? Free shuttle bus service available between main car park, the Admissions Hut and the house. Free shuttle buggy service available between main car park and house.

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


*Marbury Country Park Walk

When: 18th September, 10am.

Where:  Marbury Country Park, Marbury Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 6AT

Prebook? Yes

Description: The walk is approximately two miles. Discover the history of the now demolished hall, gardens and parkland, and seeing the still used “Lido”.

Access restrictions: Good paths on mostly level ground.

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


*Manchester Ship Canal – End of Summer Fun Heritage Day

When: 22nd September from 10am until 4.30pm.

Where:  The Visitors Hub, Algernon Street, Dukesfield, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 1ER

Prebook? No

Description: Join in for an end of summer fun heritage day, where you can learn more about this bold and exciting project Unlock Runcorn, as organisrs aim to reconnect the Bridgewater Canal to the Manchester Ship Canal and beyond. There will be food, BBQ, drinks, bar, hot and cold drinks, stalls, tombola, raffles, displays and exhibits, guided walks, talks and films of the Bridgewater Canal.

Access restrictions: None stated


* Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester

When: 14th and 15th September and 21st to 22nd September. Times from 10am until 4.30.

Where:  Museum of Transport, Boyle Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M8 8UW

Prebook? nO

Description: Discover Greater Manchester’s public road transport history with the Museum of Transport. Take a trip back in time with one of Britain’s biggest collections of restored buses, coaches and trams. Special behind the scenes tours of the Museum this weekend. Free heritage bus service to other local heritage events.

Access restrictions: Whilst the Museum is disabled friendly, heritage buses are from an era where there was poor disabled access including high steps on and off and to get upstairs. There was also poor access for pushchairs and buggies. 

Ness Botanic Gardens. Image copyright belongs to CIWK

*Little Moreton Hall

When: 14th September from 11am until 5pm.

Where:  National Trust, Little Moreton Hall, Newcastle Road, Moreton, Congleton, Cheshire, CW12 4SD

Prebook? No but you need to book a manual wheelchair as powered mobility vehicles are not permitted in the hall.

Description: Cheshire’s most iconic black and white house. A staggering example of 16th century craftsmanship built over 500 years ago, the Hall continues to exude an inimitable quirky charm and homely intimacy. Join one of the free guided tours and find out about life in the 1600s and discover the root of some common words, including, ‘chairman’ and ‘board-game’. Explore the manicured knot garden where you’ll also find herbs and vegetables that the Tudors would have used for their cooking and medicines.

Access restrictions: There is a cobbled courtyard which can be difficult for wheelchairs. Spiral staircases are steep and narrow and there are some low doorways and beams. 

To see this venues listing card on our website please visit


*Ness Botanic Gardens

When: 17th September from 10am until 5pm.

Where:  Ness Botanic Gardens, Ness Gardens, Neston Road, Ness, Neston, Cheshire, CH64 4AY

Prebook? No

Description: Ness Botanic Gardens was born of the Liverpool cotton merchant, Arthur Kilpin Bulley’s passionate interest in plants and his desire to share that interest with others. He began work on the garden in 1898, creating one of the major botanic gardens in the country. It’s a great space for little legs to run around and explore.

Access restrictions: Disabled access

To find out more about what this venue normally has on offer for families please visit


*National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

When: 14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd September from 10am until 5pm.

Where:  Canal & River Trust, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH65 4FW

Prebook: No

Description: The museum showcases the history of the canal and the lives and times of the people who worked on them. The museum is dog friendly and there are hands-on exhibits and family friendly interactives across the 7-acre site – both indoors and outside.

Access restrictions: None stated.

To find out more about what this venue normally has on offer for families please visit


*Norton Priory Museum And Gardens

When: 18th September from 10am until 5pm.

Where:  Norton Priory Museum and Gardens, Tudor Road, Manor Park, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 1BD

Prebook: No

Description: Free Entry to Norton Priory Museum & Gardens, including the Medieval ruins, woodland walks, Georgian walled garden and pear orchard. Discover 900 years of history through interactive displays, and enjoy the natural environment including the National Collection of Tree Quince.

Access restrictions: None stated

To find out more about what this venue normally has on offer for families please visit

Quarry Bank Mill. Image credit CIWK 

*Quarry Bank Mill

When: 14th and 15th September from 10.30am until 5pm.

Where:  National Trust, Quarry Bank Mill, Quarry Bank Road, Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 4LA

Prebook? Not for entrance but tours are prebookable on the day.

Description: The early Industrial Revolution changed our world forever. At Quarry Bank you can discover a complete industrial community and experience the very different worlds of owner and worker, who lived and worked here side by side. Quarry Bank’s whole site is open for free this weekend, including the mill, formal gardens, Quarry Bank House and Styal village hub. There will also be tours available of the Apprentice House and 13 Oak Cottages (bookable on the day).

Access restrictions: None stated on website but from our own experience, the grounds are mainly accessible by pram and wheelchair users. The mill itself can be difficult no navigate with a pram and/or wheelchair due to narrow walkways and the number of people. However a lift is provided so just plan to spend more time moving through the building. Slings provided on request.

To find out more about what this venue normally has on offer for families please visit


* RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands

When: Thursday 19th September from 9.30am until 5pm.

Where:  RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, Puddington Lane, Burton, Cheshire, CH64 5SF

What’s included: Admission to the wetlands. Optional guided walks of 3 miles are at 10am and 2pm and take approx. 2 hours. 

Hidden costs: No

Prebook? Yes. Please contact RSPB Burton Mere Visitor Centre on 0151 353 2720 or email 

Description: Explore this historic landscape including the Mere, once part of Burton Manor estate, home of Henry Neville Gladstone, son of William Gladstone, Prime Minister. Visit the remains of the Iron Age hillfort on Burton Point and discover the estuary’s past and the spread of the marshes, following the canalisation of the Dee in 1737.

Access restrictions: Mere and wetlands fully accessible. Route to Burton Point unsuitable for those with limited mobility.


* St. John the Baptist’s Church

When: 13th to 15th September with tours at varying times. Viking event only on Saturday.

Where:  St. John the Baptist’s Church, Little St. John Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 1SN

Prebook? No

Description: Join in this free event, Unknown Vikings, on Saturday 13 September and re-enactors show us how the Vikings lived & worked & fought. Explore the oldest and finest Norman building in Chester. The Chapter House, usually closed will be open, staffed by trained archaeologists & volunteers.

Access restrictions: The Church is fully accessible. The Chapter House is only accessible by steps with hand rails and is quite a dark area.


* Stockport Garrick Theatre Open Day

When: 13th and 14th September from 10.30 until 4pm.

Where:  Stockport Garrick Theatre Ltd, Exchange Street, Stockport, Greater Manchester, SK3 0EJ

Prebook: No

Description: Stockport Garrick Theatre has been producing plays for the local community every year since it was founded in 1901. Open for tours, history presentations, selfie corner (try on costumes) and other theatre related activities.

Access restrictions: The building does not have disabled access.


* Sudbury Hall and the Museum of Childhood – ok so a little further afield.

When: 21st September 2019 from 11am until 5pm.

Where:  National Trust, Sudbury Hall, Sudbury, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 5HT

Prebook: No

Description: From viewing some of the original gas fittings still in situ, to comparing them to the new very environmentally sound bio-mass boiler system, you will be able to see behind the scenes of what it takes to provide power to a country house both today and in years gone by. Also learn about the village gasworks where coal was turned into gas to provide power to the Hall and village.

Access restrictions: Museum is fully wheelchair accessible. Hall and basements are accessible only via lots of uneven steps


*Stretton Watermill

When: 21st and 22nd September 2019 from 12 noon until 5pm.

Where:  Stretton Watermill, Mill Lane, Stretton, Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 7JA

Prebook: No

Description: Apple pressing (bring your own apples), butter making, corn dollies, recipes, music, and “the wonders of the bicycle”. This delightful end to the season captivates all who experience the romance of this 14th century timber -framed corn mill.

Access restrictions: Partially accessible. Parking and wheelchair access to mill ground and first floor, stable block shop ground floor.

To find out more about what this venue normally has on offer for families please visit


*The Over Cotton Mill Fire 28th .10. 1874

When: 20th and 21st September 2019 at 10.30am to 12.30pm

Where:  Crosshatch Gallery, 6 Queens parade, Winsford , Cheshire, Cheshire, CW7 1AE

Prebook: No

Description: Over Cotton Mill Fire of 1874 A tragedy where 17 people lost their lives in a raging fire including a mother and her 3 month old child. The original site of the mill, houses built from the bricks of the demolished chimney , the monument at St Johns and information on the Mill its owner and a snapshot of Winsford in the 1800 ‘s will be provided by the
gallery from The History Society of Winsford archives.

Access restrictions: Most of the activity is based outside and is a wheelchair and pram accessible route.


*Weaver Hall Museum

When: 21st September 2019 from 3 to 4pm.

Where:  Cheshire Museums, 162 London Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 8AB

Prebook: No

Description: The Museum building is the old Northwich Union Workhouse, Grade II listed, built 1837- 39. Displays explore workhouse life, local history & archaeology. Leaders, Movers and Shakers in the Cheshire Yeomanry – from Peterloo to World War II. An illustrated talk on some of the characterful members of the County who have held commissions with the Yeomanry and what they did.

Access restrictions: None stated.

To find out more about what this venue normally has on offer for families please visit

National Waterways Museum. Image copyright belongs to CIWK 

*Weaver Dairy House

When: Various times on 22nd September 2019.

Where:  Weaver Dairyhouse Farm, Stocks Hill, Darnhall, Winsford, Cheshire, CW7 4EE

Prebook: Yes. Numbers are limited.

Description: A guided tour of this Grade II listed Cheshire Farm House and barns, some parts dating back to 14th & 17th century.

The two hour guided tour will explain the farm and its place in agriculture historically and currently in the parish of Darnhall. The land is surrounded by ancient woodland and historic hedgerows. The agricultural operations include traditional Hereford cattle, Shropshire Native breed pedigree sheep and rare breed Gloucester Old Spot pigs.

Access restrictions: The tour is by trailer so you need to be able to climb at least three steps.


*Winsford Library design and make your own terracotta brick

When: 21st September from 10.30am until 12.30pm.

Where:  Cheshire West & Chester, Winsford Library, High Street, Winsford, Cheshire, CW7 2AS

Prebook? No

Description: Drop- In and design and make your own Terracotta Brick activity at Winsford Library.

An air-dried clay workshop for children of all ages to create their own terracotta brick to take home. Lots of inspiration and ideas on offer from displayed photographs of local historic buildings.

Access restrictions: none stated.


To stay ‘Clued in’ with regards to other local events, days out, kids groups and more, please feel free to visit our website or follow us via social media.


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