News from Played in Britain

Heritage Open Days - from a sporting perspective

September 3 2011

English Heritage's annual Heritage Open Days event takes place from September 8 -11 and includes several sports-related venues that may interest Played in Britain readers. Here's a round up of some places you might like to visit.

Please note that some venues require advance booking and are open for only part of the four day HODS event.

East Anglia

Broomhill Pool, Sherrington Road, Ipswich

Sadly still lying derelict since it closed in 2002, this is a wonderful 1938 Modernist lido with a 50m pool. Following the completion of a feasibility study, fundraising has commenced to return the pool to its former glory. Open for viewing only. As featured in Liquid Assets. Saturday/Sunday 10:00-17:00

The Old Skating Rink, Bethel Street, Norwich

Now used as a retail outlet for oriental carpets and objects, this beautifully restored Victorian roller skating rink was built in the 1870s, during the first wave of 'rincomania' and has served many purposes since. A rare surviving example. Thursday - Saturday 09:30-17:00

North East

Central Library, Prince George Square, South Tyneside

Lecture: South Shields - Played in Tyne and Wear. Played in Britain author Lynn Pearson talks about her research for Played in Tyne and Wear. Saturday 14:00-15.30

Newcastle City Libray, Charles Avison Building, 33 New Bridge St West

Lecture: Newcastle - Uppies & Downies and Other Football Games. Played in Britain author Hugh Hornby talks about his book Uppies & Downies and other football games in the north east and across Britain since the 12th century. Saturday 10:30-12:30

Albert Park Skating Rink, Albert Park, Linthorpe Road, Middlesborough

Free skating at this recently refurbished skating rink located in a beautifully restored Victorian Park. Sunday 11:00-13:00

A Night at the Dogs: Sunderland Greyhound Stadium, Newcastle Road, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

Visit Sunderland Greyhound Stadium on race night and view our special exhibition on the track's varied history. Pre-booking required; Tel: 0191 568 6200. Friday 18:30-22:30

Night falls as the dogs race round Sunderland Greyhound Stadium

Night falls as the dogs race round Sunderland Greyhound Stadium, featured in Played in Tyne and Wear. (© Simon Inglis)

Gateshead Bowling Green Club, Prince Consort Road, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear

Behind the front door of an ordinary house, set into an anonymous stretch of wall on a roundabout passed by thousands of motorists every day, lies the home of the Gateshead Bowling Green Club, founded in 1865 and Tyne and Wear's the oldest bowls club. Facilities for beginners will be available. Friday/Saturday 10.00-16.00

Jesmond Dene Real Tennis Club, Matthew Bank, Jesmond, Wear side

This Grade II listed Real Tennis Court was built in what was then the garden of Jesmond Dene House in 1894. One of only around 25 Real Tennis Courts in the UK and still in daily use. Thursday - Sunday 12:00-16:00

Jesmond Lawn Tennis Club, 102 Osborne Road, Jesmond, Tyne and Wear

Jesmond Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1883 and its distinguished history includes member Muriel Robb winning the Ladies Singles title at Wimbledon in 1902. A plaque has recently been erected at the Club in her honour. Visit for a tour and talk, with an opportunity to play a free game of tennis afterwards! (Appropriate clothing and footwear required). Pre-booking; Tel: 0191 277 8003. Tours: Thursday 14.00/15.00

The Palace Green Pavilion, Palace Green, 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. Saturday/Sunday 11:00-16:00

Stepney Bank Stables, Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear

The oldest working stable-yard in Newcastle, Stepney Bank Stables will be offering 'open doors' throughout the HODs weekend, and special tours of the yard with the opportunity to meet the horses. Pre-booking; Tel: 0191 261 5544.

Thursday/Friday 09.30-20.00 (tour 18.00)
Saturday/Sunday 09.30-16.30 (tour 14.00)

Taking the Plunge: North Tyneside's Swimming Heritage, North Tyneside


Visit Tynemouth Pool as it celebrates 40 years of service and enjoy an exhibition of memories and photographs recalling where and when the people of North Tyneside have swam. Enjoy a free swim as part of the HODs weekend. Organised as part of the Played in Tyne and Wear project celebrating our sporting heritage.


Thursday: Exhibition 07.15-21.30 (free swim 10.00-12.00)
Friday: Exhibition 07.15-19.00 (free swim 13.00-15.00)
Saturday: Exhibition 08.30-16.00 (free swim 10.30-12.30)
Sunday: Exhibition 08.30-14.30 (free swim 10.30-12.30)

This Sporting Life: Historic Field Sports of Northumberland, Market Place, Morpeth, Northumberland

Dr John Sadler delivers an interactive lecture on the history of field sports with practical demonstrations of archery, black-powder shooting, boar hunting and field-craft. This will be a journey through a millennium of field sports in Northumberland, crowded with anecdotes. Talk lasts approx 1-1.5 hrs. Thursday 19.30

Tour of Sunderland AFC's former Football Grounds, Main Foyer, Front Entrance, Stadium of Light, Sunderland

Sunderland AFC historian and publications officer Rob Mason leads a guided mini bus tour of each of the club's eight former grounds, from the Blue House field in Hendon where the club played its first game in 1879 to its new home, the Stadium of Light. Pre-booking required; Tel: 0191 553 2000. Friday tour 19.00-20.30; No children under 12

Whitley Bay Ice Rink, Hillheads Road, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

Enjoy a behind the scenes tour, exhibition of memories and photographs recalling nearly 60 years of Whitley Bay Ice Rink and a free skate (skate hire not included). Organised as part of the Played in Tyne and Wear project celebrating our sporting heritage. Thursday/Friday 10.00-12.00

North West

Birkenhead Park, Park Drive, 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. Saturday/Sunday 13:00 tours: meet Grand Entrance, South Lodge, Conway Street

Action at Upper Park, home of Birkenhead Park Rugby Club

Action at Upper Park, home of Birkenhead Park Rugby Club, one of Britain's oldest rugby clubs, established 1871 (© English Heritage)

Burnley FC, Turf Moor, Harry Potts Way, Burnley, Lancashire

Learn about the history of one of the founding members of the Football League. Pre-booking required; Tel: 01282 664 421. Friday 14:00/16:00

Central Leisure Centre, Entwhistle Road, Rochdale, Greater Manchester

Entwistle Road swimming baths were designed and built by the Borough surveyors department, and opened on 25th May 1937 and retain several original features. The centre is due to close in April 2012 and will be replaced with a new leisure facility. Pre-booking required; Tel: 01706 924213. Thursday 10.00-12.00 tour and opening times

Chester Racecourse, Chester, Cheshire

A guided walking tour of the famous Roodee, Britain's oldest racecourse, where racing and many other sports have been staged since 1539. Walking tour/talk by Chris Clayton explaining the history of the site since Roman times, right up to recent projects, including the Linenhall stables site, new Parade ring projects, grandstand extensions and 1539 restaurant. The tour also includes the Old Port site, its new stables and railway arches with associated developments and riverside path. Thursday 14:00-15:00

Pre-book at or email

Rochdale FC, Spotland Stadium, Sandy Lane, Rochdale

Behind the scenes tours including stands, tunnel and changing rooms. Pre-booking required; Tel: 01706 924 928. Thursday/Friday 10:00-15:00

Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester

No need to remind our regulars of this, arguably the finest Edwardian swimming baths in Britain, Grade II* and featured extensively in both Great Lengths and Played in Manchester. Phase One of the restoration works were completed in 2008 and now refurbishment of the Gala Pool is complete. Guided tours of the building available throughout the day. Friday/Saturday/Sunday 11:00-17:00

South and South East

Castle Green Bowling Club, Castle Grounds, Guildford, Surrey

A Played in Britain favourite (to be featured in Hugh Hornby's forthcoming book on bowling greens, Bowled Over) this lovely historic green in the castle grounds 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. Sunday 14:30-17:00

Cycling History in Surrey 1850-1950, Council Offices, Dorking, Surrey

Illustrated talk about a century of cycles and cycling from the pedal cycle's first appearance in Surrey in the 1850s until the 1950s. It will touch upon wooden-wheeled velocipedes with both 4 and 2 wheels, the days of the high bicycle, solid-tyred safeties and early pneumatics to the elegant lightweights of the 1950s, including the leisure activities associated with all of these types of bicycles. Thursday 19.30

Cyclox Bike Ride, Oxford Preservation Trust, 10, Turn Again Lane, Oxford

A gentle 10-mile historic river and canal bike ride taking in some of the sights of key historic and sporting interest. Finish with a drink at the pub. Lead by Cyclox member Andy Chivers. Sunday 10:00

Dorking Cricket Club, Cotmandene, Pixham Lane, Dorking, Surrey

'Owzat!' - A celebration of 240 years of cricket in Dorking (Dorking Cricket Club itself club was established in 1771), the centrepiece of which will be a recreation of an 18th century 'two stump' cricket match using a curved bat and underarm bowling. This year's opponents will be Newdigate Cricket Club. In addition, Dorking Museum have produced a free information sheet outlining the importance of Cotmandene to cricket in Dorking and this will be available to visitors on the day. Sunday 14:30-17:00

Falcon Rowing and Canoeing Club, Donnington Bridge Road, Oxford

Opening canoeing taster sessions (60 mins) at one of the oldest clubs on the Thames. Pre-booking required; e-mail: Saturday 10:30/12:00/13:30/15:00

Hilsea Lido, London Road, Hilsea, Portsmouth

A great chance to see this 1935 Modernist lido and learn more about local efforts to re-open it for swimming. As featured in Liquid Assets. Saturday/Sunday 13:00-16:00

Hinksey Sculling School, Hinksey Lakes, Hinskey Parks, Oxford

Have a go at sculling or indoor rowing. Saturday 11:00-14:00

King's Meadow Swimming Baths, Reading, Berkshire

An opportunity to visit these 1902, Grade II Listed, semi-open air baths. Special for their cast and ironwork and Reading-style brickwork. The pool tank is 120ft x 45ft and ranges from 3ft 6" to 7ft 6" in depth. It was last open for public swimming in 1976 and is currently in a critical condition. The King's Meadow campaign is waiting to be granted permission to begin a community restoration. When complete, it is hoped to host summer swimming and then floor over the inner area for use as a winter ice rink. Friday/Saturday 10.00-16.00

Kingstonian Football Club, New Malden Library, New Malden, Kingston-upon-Thames

Exhibition on the 125-year history of Kingstonian FC, including memorabilia and artefacts. Thursday 09:30-19:00/Friday 09:30-18:00/Saturday 09:30-17:30

National Badminton Centre, Bradwell Road, Loughton Lodge, 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. Saturday 10:30-15:30

Oxford Brookes University: Centre for Sport Open Day, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane, Oxford

Try your hand at the climbing wall, racket ball and visit the health suite. Also come and watch basketball and hockey throughout the day. Pre-booking required: climbing; e-mail: racket ball; e-mail: Saturday: Climbing Wall: 10:00-13:00/14:00-17:00; Racket ball: 10:00-13:00; Health Suite: 0900-17:00

Oxford Brookes University: Westminster Sports Centre Open Day, Harcourt Hill Campus, Botley, Oxford

Free use of all sports facilities for everyone. First come, first served. Saturday 10:30-16:00

Oxford City FC, Marsh Lane, Marston, Oxford

Oxford's oldest football club celebrates its 130th season. Displays of photographs and memorabilia from 1882 to the present day. Clubhouse will be open, feel free to picnic in the stadium or the adjacent training pitches. Sunday 13:00-18:00

Oxford Fencing Club, Town Hall, St. Aldate's, Oxford

Members of the club will be giving demonstrations and answering questions on this ancient sport. Sunday 13:00-15:00

Oxford Gymnastics Club, Town Hall, St. Aldate's Oxford

Elite gymnasts including European and World medal winners will be demonstrating the spectacular sport of acrobatic gymnastics. Budding gymnasts of any age are welcome to have a go so bring your sportswear. Sunday 13:30-16:00 Displays 14:15/15:15 Workshops 14:30/15:30

Oxford United FC, Kassam Stadium, Grenoble Road, Oxford

Behind the scenes tours of this friendly club's new stadium (opened 2001), including the boardroom, director's box and dressing rooms. Pre-booking required; Tel: 01865 251 022. Stadium Tours Sunday 10:00/12:00/14:00

Oxford University Cricket Pavilion, University Parks, Oxford

Victorian pavilion built in 1881 to a design by T.G. Jackson. Saturday 12:30-14:30

Oxford University Rugby Club, Iffley Road, Oxford

One of the world's leading and renowned amateur rugby clubs with a long and illustrious history. Saturday 15:00-17:00

Oxford's Sporting History: Walk

Oxford has been home to many sporting greats including Roger Bannister, Colin Cowdrey, CB Fry, David Hemmings and Jack Lovelock. Join Alastair Lack on a sporting walk that begins at The Parks, where Oxford University play cricket and ends by the River Isis, home to town rowing clubs and college eights. Pre-booking required; Tel: 01865 251 022. Saturday 14:00/Sunday 11:00

Reading FC, Madejski Stadium, Junction 11, M4, Reading, Berkshire

Fully guided tour with a chance to take photographs along the way. Pre-booking required: e-mail Sunday 11:00-16:00

Real Tennis Court, Merton College, Merton Street, 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). Demonstrations on the hour. Saturday 11:00-15:00

Roger Bannister Running Track, Oxford University Sports Club, Iffley Road, Oxford

400 metres athletics track where Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier on May 6th 1954. Visit the gallery in the grandstand to see memorabilia and displays relating to this historic achievement. Saturday/Sunday 12:00-16:00

Southborough Cricket Club, The Pavilion, London Road, Southborough, Kent

Exhibition of photographs and memorabilia dating back to the mid-1850s. Saturday 13:00-17:00

Watford FC, Vicarage Road, Watford, Hertfordshire

Guided tours of Vicarage Road, home to Watford FC since 1922. Pre-booking required; Tel: 01923 232 297. Friday 10:30

South West

Benjamin Perry Boathouse, Bristol

Built in 1897 as a warehouse for goods unloaded from sailing ships in the floating harbour. Now an activity centre for the Scouts and Guides. Saturday 10.00-16.00

Cirencester Open Air Swimming Pool, Thomas Street, Cirencester

Opened in 1870, this historic pool uses natural spring water, heated to 81ºF (28ºC). Committee members will be on hand to show visitors around and tell them about the pool's history. Saturday 10:30-15:00 (tours 11:00/13:30)

Cleveland Pools, Cleveland Row, Hampton Row, Bath

Another Played in Britain favourite, this delightful Georgian 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. Friday - Sunday 14:00-17:00

Gloucester Rugby Club, Kingsholm Road, Kingsholm Gloucester

Formed in 1873, Gloucester has played at Kingsholm since 1891 and is one of the world's oldest rugby clubs, and although there are no buildings of architectural interest, the Shed terrace is well known in rugby circles. Pre-booking required; Tel: 01452 396 572. Tour: Thursday 10:30

Sandford Parks Lido, Keynsham Road, Cheltenham

Opened in 1935 Sandford Parks Lido retains nearly all of its historic features, including plant room machinery, and is one of the most complete examples of its kind in England. Saturday 11:00-19:00

West Midlands

Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Club, 14a Westbourne Road, Birmingham

The world's oldest lawn tennis club still playing at its original location, EALTS grass courts date from 1872. Come and learn about the early history of lawn tennis in the city where it was first played. Includes display of historical tennis artefacts. Sunday 14:00-17:00

Moor Pool Festival, Moor Pool Estate, The Circle, Harborne, Birmingham

This charming example of early 20th century social housing includes two tennis clubs, a picturesque bowling green, a snooker room and the unique 'hidden' dual skittle alley, 99 years old and still going strong. As featured in Played in Birmingham. Sunday 11:00-17:00

Leamington Spa Tennis Court Club, Bedford Street, 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, built in 1846/7 by Jackson on Leamington and featuring original club rooms. Pre-booking essential: 01926 456 508. Tours: Thursday 11:00/Friday 11:00

Molineux Stadium Tours, Molineux, Wolverhampton

Though comprehensively redeveloped in recent years, Molineux has been home of Wolverhampton Wanderers for over 120 years. Learn about the great Wolves sides of the 1950s that pioneered European football under captain and England legend Billy Wright, go behind the scenes, view trophy cabinets and see the first stage of the stadium re-development which began in May. Tours: Thursday 16:00/18:00; Friday 10:00/11:00

Molineux Hotel, Whitmore Hill, 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 city's Archives & Local Studies Service. An exhibition of local sporting history is taking place during Heritage Open Weekend. Pre-booking required for tours; Tel: 01902 429 212.

Thursday 10:00 -17:00/Friday 12:00-17:00 (tours 13:00/14:00/15:00)
Saturday 10:00-12:00 (tours 10:00/11:00)


The Bath House, Gledhow Valley Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire

A listed bath house, originally part of the Gledhow Estate. It has a small changing room and a small pool fed from a spring. Sunday, 12.30-16.30

The Rugby Football League, Red Hall, Red Hall Lane, Leeds

Red Hall is a mainly late 18th century Grade II listed house, parts of which date back to 1650. It is now the headquarters of the Rugby Football League and the Rugby Football League's Hall of Fame. Pre-booking required; Tel: 0113 823 9107 before September 8th. Saturday 10:00-13:00

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