Heritage Open Days: 8th – 11th September

Explore heritage and history at this September’s Heritage Open Days in and around Bedford.

Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest annual festival of history and culture involving hundreds of venues and over 40,000 volunteers. Over four days in September, thousands of events across the country invite you in to explore local treasures, see hidden places and try out new experiences.

Many local venues are taking part, giving you the chance to find out more about the heritage and history of Bedford through special talks, tours and events, all free of charge.

The Higgins Bedford

Saturday 10th September


 Exhibition Tour  – Bedford’s War Machines 11am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 2.30pm (30 minutes)

Join Lydia Saul, Keeper of Social History and discover the story of Bedford’s War Machines featuring the history of The Motor Rail and Tram Car Simplex locomotives and the Le Rhone aircraft engines manufactured at W H Allen’s Queens Engineering Works here in Bedford during the First World War from 1916 onwards.


Meet the model-makers – Connections Gallery 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3pm (15 minutes)

Come and meet the ‘life in the trenches’ model-makers and hear all about what life was really like at the front during the First World War, with Jo and Chris Fordham from Bedford U3A miniatures group.

World War Two Memories – ‘Somewhere in England’ Gallery drop-in  11am – 1pm

Listen to Terry Darlow talk about life in Bedford during the Second World War and afterwards. Discover Terry’s fantastic photograph collection from Bedford’s wartime past.

Bromham Mill and Café

Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September Open 10am-4pm, guided tours at 12.30 and 2.30pm

Visit the 18th Century Bromham Mill, enjoy homemade cakes and afternoon tea.

Moot Hall, Elstow

Saturday 10th September 1pm-4pm

Moot Hall

Step into the world of John Bunyan at this 15th century timber framed market house.








Bedfordshire Archives – Weaving Narratives Exhibition

Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th September Open 10am-4pm

Guided tours of the archives every half hour 10am-12pm and 2pm – 4pm

See work by local textile artists inspired by the archives.  The finished works illustrate many aspects of the history of Bedfordshire including the granting of Royal Charter to Bedford in 1166; prisoners in Bedford Gaol; conditions in the Ampthill workhouse; the industrial heritage of Luton; hat manufacturing in Dunstable; and Leighton Buzzard market.


Foster Hill Road Cemetery

Saturday 10th September 11am-4pm

Foster Hill Road cemetary

Staff will be on hand to help visitors look at burial registers dating back to 1855.

Sunday 11th September 1pm – 5pm

Enjoy a programme of themed guided walks.





As well as these events, a number of other properties and sites of local interest are opening their doors and inviting you to learn more about the history and heritage of Bedfordshire.  To find out more about next month’s Heritage Weekend click here and to view the whole programme for Bedford and the surrounding area.

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