News from Played in Britain

Heritage Open Days - from a sporting angle

August 27 2009

This year's Heritage Open Days, organised by English Heritage, take place between September 10-13 and include several sports-related venues that will be of interest to Played in Britain readers. For your convenience we have picked out the ones we think will be of interest.

Note that some venues need to be booked in advance and take place only at specific times.

East Anglia

Broomhill Pool, Ipswich

Sadly still lying derelict since it closed in 2002, this is a wonderful 1938 lido with a 50m pool. As featured in Liquid Assets.

Royal Harwich Yacht Club, Woolverstone, Ipswich

This club has been afloat since 1843 and has had a fascinating history and several intrepid members.

Carrow Road, Norwich City Football Club

A suprising choice for a Heritage Open Day given the modernity of the buildings, but a good chance all the same to take the stadium tour without charge, and perhaps sample some of Delia Smith's stadium catering!

Norwich Roller Rink

Now an oriental carpet warehouse, the Grade II listed Old Roller Skating Rink in Bethel Street, Norwich, dates from 1877 and is a rare survival from the first wave of Victorian rollermania. It is open to the public from September 10-12 as part of Heritage Open Days.

The Old Skating Rink, Norwich

Now used as a retail outlet for oriental carpets and objets, this beautifully restored Victorian roller skating rink was built during the first wave of rollermania in the 1870s and has served many purposes since. A rare survival.

South and South East

Castle Green Bowling Club, Guildford, Surrey

A Played in Britain favourite (due to be featured in Hugh Hornby's book on bowling greens, Bowled Over) this lovely historic green is open to the public, but for Heritage Open Days will be inviting people to watch, learn and join in on. The adjacent museum is also recommended.

Hilsea Lido, Portsmouth

A great chance to see this 1935 lido and learn more about local efforts to re-open it for swimming. As featured in Liquid Assets.


Made by FH Ayres and Co. around 1890-1911, these three splendid shuttlecocks are from the National Badminton Museum at Milton Keynes, as featured in A Load of Old Balls.

National Badminton Centre, Milton Keynes

Learn more about the history of badminton from the museum set up within the National Badminton Centre, normally open only to players and coaches. A good chance also to see the facilities where the likes of Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson trained.

Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire

See inside the jockey's weighing room and the royal box, built in 1905.

Real Tennis Court, Merton College, Oxford

Real tennis has been played on this site since at least 1675, though the present Grade II listed court dates from 1798 (only Falkland Palace and Hampton Court have courts that are older).

Reigate Priory Cricket Club, Park Lane, Surrey

A chance to see inside two pavilions, the original dated 1852 (one of the earliest in Britain and still in use by the club's football team) and the later 1930 pavilion, now home to the Reigate Priory Cricket Club.

Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham on Crouch, Essex

Lovers of 20th Century architecture will much enjoy this Grade II* listed yacht club, a RIBA design award winner in 1931.

The Settlement (former Skittles Inn), Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire

Delightful Arts and Crafts, former Temperance pub opened in 1908, as featured in Played at the Pub.

North East

The Palace Green Pavilion, Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland

An interesting Grade II listed former gentlemen's reading room, built in 1830 by a bowling green, with a later, purpose built billiard hall, lately used a scout hut.

North West

Birkenhead Park, Birkenhead, Merseyside

Guided tour of Britain's first municipal public park, designed by Joseph Paxton and opened in 1847, featuring one of the country's oldest cricket pavilions, opened c. 1849 by Birkenhead Park CC, and Upper Park, home of Birkenhead Park Rugby Club since 1886, as featured in Played in Liverpool.

Turf Moor, Burnley Football Club

A rare chance to take a Premier League stadium tour at no cost. Home to Burnley since 1883, Turf Moor is the only major football ground left in Britain with a cricket club adjoining. The oldest stand dates back to 1967 but there is plenty of historic interest around the place.

Chester Racecourse, Chester

A guided walking tour of the famous Roodee, Britain's oldest course, where racing and many other sports have been staged since 1539. Only one tour though and places are limited.

Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester

No need to remind our regulars of this, arguably the finest Edwardian swimming baths in Britain, featured extensively in Great Lengths. Even if you have been before, it is well worth revisiting to see how the Grade II* building has been cleaned up and restored since Phase One of the Restoration works were completed last year.

Note for members of English Heritage: on the eve of the Heritage Open Days, at 6.00pm on Wednesday September 9, Played in Britain series editor Simon Inglis will be delivering an illustrated lecture on Britain's historic baths at the Victoria Baths, followed by a tour of the building. For details 0161-224 2020.

Workington Town Rugby League Club, Workington, Cumbria

Not the most historic club, having formed in 1944, with a ground opened only in 1956, but nevertheless one of four sports venues that form part of the historic Cloffocks, an open space where the town's annual Easter games of festival football also take place, as featured in Uppies and Downies.

South West

Hulley grave

Britain's oldest lido, the 1815 Cleveland Pools in Bath, as featured in Liquid Assets.

Cleveland Pools, Bath

Another Played in Britain favourite, this delightful Grade II* open air swimming pool was opened in 1815 and is Britain's oldest lido, as featured in Liquid Assets. Since it closed to the public in 1984 chances to visit are few and far between, so this year's open days offers a great opportunity to learn more about current plans to refurbish the site, which in 2007 was placed on English Heritage's Heritage at Risk Register.

The Lido, Clifton, Bristol

Another Grade II* historic open air pool featured in Liquid Assets but this time one that has been restored and re-opened recently for swimming. Originally known as the Clifton Pool and opened in 1850 the Lido is now a private club, so this is a good opportunity to see an important revival at first hand.

Gloucester Rugby Club, Kingsholm Gloucester

Formed in 1873, Gloucester have played at Kingsholm since 1891, and although there are no buildings of architectural interest, the Shed terrace is well known in rugby circles.

Trowbridge Cricket Club and County Ground Pavilion, Wiltshire

Grand Edwardian pavilion stuffed with memorabilia.


Leamington Tennis Court Club, Leamington Spa

Hidden in a back street with a modest exterior and not to be confused with the town's venerable lawn tennis club, this is one of the oldest real tennis courts in Britain, first used in 1847 and featuring original club rooms.

Rugby School Museum, Rugby, Warwickshire

Charming, homespun museum with plenty of interest to fans of rugby and 19th century sport. The museum is a short walk from the fields where the game of rugby is purported to have originated.

Molineux Hotel, Wolverhampton

This was the original focal point of the Molineux sports and leisure grounds, destined to become home of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club in 1889, and once with its own boating lake, skating rink and bowling green. After years of dereliction in the shadow of the football stadium the Grade II* listed hotel, parts of which date back to 1750, has now been restored and turned into the home of the ciy's Archives & Local Studies Service.


Northern Racing College, St Leger Horse Park, Rossington Hall, Doncaster

A chance to tour around the college where would-be jockeys and trainers learn their craft, set in the grounds of the Grade II listed Rossington Hall.

The Rugby Football League, Red Hall, Leeds

Red Hall is a mainly late 18th century Grade II listed house, parts of which date back to 1650. It is now the headquarter of the Rugby Football League and the Rugby Football League's Hall of Fame.

Pontefract Racecourse, Pontefract

A guided tour and talk at a course where racing has taken place since 1801, and where the track is said to be the longest continuous track in Europe. Good mix of stands and a quirky triangular and domed building that carries the results.

Ripon Spa Baths, Ripon

Recently under threat, this splendid baths dates from 1905, with an 1936 extension. The Grade II listed entrance hall is particularly fine.

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