CULTURE lovers can have a blast with the past in South Tyneside this month.
A host of venues across the borough will be swinging open their doors as part of the annual Heritage Open Day scheme.
Guided tours, film showings, history walks and even a period costume tour of South Marine Park will all be on the agenda from Thursday, September 12, to Sunday, September 15.
Heritage Open Days is an annual celebration of England’s architecture and culture that allows visitors free access to sites that are not usually open, or would normally charge an entrance fee.
Arbeia Roman Fort, in South Shields, Bede’s World in Jarrow, South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, Jarrow Town Hall, The Customs House, Souter Lighthouse and South Marine Park will be among attractions offering a glimpse into yesteryear.
Coun Alan Kerr, lead member for culture and leisure at South Tyneside Council, said: “The Heritage Open Days prove a real winner as they provide people with unique opportunities to go behind the scenes at some of the borough’s major venues.
“It also gives people the opportunity to learn something new about the place in which they live, work and visit.”
There will be viewings at a number of local churches, South Tyneside Council’s countryside officer will lead a stroll of discovery around Station Burn Local Nature Reserve, near Brockley Whins Metro station in Jarrow, and there will be a Fort to Fort History Walk between Arbeia and Segedunum in Wallsend.
Local film-maker Gary Wilkinson will be playing a key role in this year’s festivities, with his short films offering snapshots into life in the borough being screened at both The Customs House and Central Library.
Four films, titled Tyne Dock Borders, Tyne Harbour, Tyne Stories and Vanished will take centre stage.
Gary, from Tyne Dock, has been a film-maker for 25 years and is delighted to see his South Tyneside stories on the big screen. His film Tyne Harbour documents the dramatic seasonal weather changes experienced by the River Tyne.
It showcases the many ways in which the great river is used, from ferries bringing visitors to our shores through to fishermen who depend on the waters for their livelihood.
Gary said: “The Heritage Open Days play an important function as they give people a chance to get to know the area in which they live.
“It also gives film-makers like myself, an ideal platform to show our work.”
“Tyne Harbour will give people a valuable insight into the heritage fabric of the Tyne, and will hopefully evoke sentiments we all share about the amazing waterway, famous the world over.” Tyne Harbour will be shown at The Library Theatre, Central Library, South Shields, on Thursday, September 12, from 2pm to 2.30pm.
This will be followed by the showing of Tyne Stories another of Gary’s short films (54 minutes in duration – screened between 2.30pm and 3.30pm, Central Library).
Film fans can book a free place by calling Central Library on 424 7863.
Audiences can also catch two more documentary films by Gary at the Customs House on Friday, September 13, Vanished (18 minutes in duration, to be screened between 11am and 11.30am) and Tyne Dock Borders (70 minutes in duration screened between 11.30am and 12.45pm).
Booking is also required for free tickets by calling The Customs House box office on 454 1234 or online www.customshouse.co.uk. Both films are narrated by Jarrow born poet and writer, Tom Kelly with original music by Jarrow musician, Ron Smith.
Anyone interested in learning more about the various free Heritage Open Days events taking place in the Borough can visit South Tyneside Council’s website at www.southtyneside.info/heritageopendays or call the Tourist Information Centre on 0191 455 7411.