By Andy Hirst

People will be able to see behind the scenes at more of the Kirklees area’s historic buildings than ever before this September … and there will be tours of Huddersfield Railway Station for the first time.

The annual national Heritage Open Days Festival will see a record-breaking 77 venues, talks and activities across the district … and half of them are new to the programme.

This year the national theme is Astounding Inventions for the festival which runs from Friday, September 9 to Sunday, September 18.

This year marks 175 years since the first passenger service at Huddersfield Railway Station, described as “a stately home with trains in” by one architectural writer.

Guided tours of the station will include a visit to the former signal box to see unique views of the station and the old signalling panel with an experienced Network Rail member of staff to answer questions.

There will also be a display by the Penistone Line Partnership, a pioneer of the community rail movement, illustrating the history of the Huddersfield-Sheffield railway.

Huddersfield Railway Station

Other heritage highlights include a David Brown heritage walk and tour in Meltham which finishes at the David Brown Tractor Museum. Meltham will also feature an exhibition displaying the history of the Brook family who were manufacturers of cotton thread – Jonas Brook & Bros – and built mills and schools locally.

Colne Valley Museum will be open in Golcar with demonstrations ranging from baking to spinning and churches open will include St John’s Church and Providence Methodist Church, both in Golcar, St Mark’s in Longwood, St Mary’s in Honley, Holme Sunday School, All Hallows in Almondbury, Huddersfield Parish Church, St John’s in Birkby and St Stephen’s in Lindley.

In Slaithwaite one of the Colne Valley’s oldest churches has come alive again as a magnificent centre for children with additional needs. Grade II-listed Providence Baptist Chapel was built on Hollins Row just off Manchester Road, Slaithwaite, in 1816 but closed down several years ago due to dwindling congregations.

It was bought by the Shabang! arts organisation that was looking for bigger premises in the village and you’ll be able to go on a guided tour.

There will be a celebration of locally born scientist Joseph Priestley at Bagshaw Museum in Birstall.

Both Huddersfield and Dewsbury offer a broad range of activities as part of the towns’ Heritage Action Zones funded by Historic England and Kirklees Council.

In Huddersfield, the conservation and renovation work on the historic George Hotel will be revealed in an evening presentation, walks will explore the town’s modernist architecture and heritage mile and 20 costumed dancers will celebrate the Windrush Generation in St George’s Square on Saturday, September 10 from 12noon to 1pm.

The festival will include a varied range of the district’s historic churches, some coinciding with Yorkshire Churches Day on September 10 organised by Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust.

St John’s Church in Golcar

Dewsbury Minster, founded in 627AD, will reveal its Anglo-Saxon relics, tower tours and links with the Brontes. As well as the key Anglican churches across the district, visitors can discover quirkier gems such as Quaker Meeting Houses at Wooldale and High Flatts and an Arts and Crafts Baptist Church in Birkby, now the Vajrapani Kadampa Meditation Centre for Buddhists.

Historic and unique buildings open include Lindley Clock Tower, Briarcourt in Lindley, Holmfirth’s Owd Towser jail, Kirkburton’s energy efficient Passivhaus, while garden lovers can explore the seven acres at Paddock Farm, Slaithwaite, discover ‘allotments, orchards, dikes and shrogs’ in Birkby and visit both Greenhead and Beaumont Parks in Huddersfield.

Kirklees Heritage Open Days committee chairman David Griffiths said: “This year’s programme offers a most amazing choice for all age groups and interests. It offers a unique opportunity to discover some of Kirklees’ finest locations and, above all, it’s free for everyone.”

Although all venues and events are free, because of limited capacity some have to be booked in advance. See the brochure HERE.

Details of all 77 events and the booking process can be found in the Kirklees Heritage Open Days brochure which is being distributed to information points and libraries across Kirklees in the last week of August or by going to the national website

* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.