The Highland Doors Open Days programme for 2015 has been launched, with a total of 47 North buildings – new and old – opening their doors in September this year to allow the public to see inside them and find out about their stories.
Participating buildings will be opening in different Highland Council areas over the four weekends in September, with free admission to all venues and many offering special events and activities.
Doors Open Days venues making their first appearance in the Highland programme this year include Bona Lighthouse (Loch Ness); Dalarossie Church (by Tomatin); St John the Evangelist Church (Inverness); St Michael and All Angels’ Church (Inverness); Fearn Abbey (by Tain); Fingal Lodge of Freemasons (Dingwall); Berriedale Church and Cemetery (Caithness); the new Links Studio for artists (Nairn); Nairn Museum; St Paul’s Church (Strathnairn); and Nevis Radio (Fort William).
Chris O’Connell, Senior Heritage Advisor at Scottish Canals, said: “The Doors Open Day festival offers the public the perfect chance to step back into the rich history of the Caledonian Canal and experience some of its 200-years-worth of stories for themselves.
“Along with our partners the Scottish Waterways Trust, we’ll be inviting people to take a look inside one of Loch Ness’ most iconic buildings – beautiful Bona Lighthouse. Designed in 1815 by Caledonian Canal engineer Thomas Telford, Bona was the smallest manned inland lighthouse in Britain before technology overtook it and it fell into disuse. It’s now been brought back to life as a unique holiday cottage just in time for its 200th birthday, safeguarding the rich heritage of the lighthouse for future generations to enjoy. The building really is an incredible part of the history of the Highlands and we’re delighted to be able to open its doors and allow the public to explore its many stories.”
Other Doors Open Days venues making return appearances in the programme this year (some after a year or two’s absence) include historic churches, castles, museums and heritage centres; the underground Emergency Centre in Inverness; Eden Court Theatre; the Jim Savage-Lowden Observatory at Culloden; Inverness Sheriff Court in Inverness Castle; HMP Inverness; the award-winning Highland Archive and Registration Service in Inverness; MAKAR’s ecological house building workshop near Inverness; Wardlaw Mausoleum (Kirkhill); Cromarty Lighthouse; Cromarty House; the Aviemore Shed of the Strathspey Steam Railway; the Am Fasgadh stores of the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore; and the aluminium smelter power houses in Kinlochleven and Fort William.
Many of the venues will be offering guided tours or exhibitions, music recitals, talks about their history or work, or other activities. In Caithness, the Waterlines Heritage Centre in Lybster will be teaming up with the Moray Firth Partnership’s “Seafood – see here” programme for a special focus on the area’s fishing heritage. And in Strathnairn, there will be the chance to attend a Gaelic Eucharist at St Paul’s Church.
Chair of The Highland Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Audrey Sinclair, said: “Highland Doors Open Days has gone from strength to strength with more venues being added to the programme each year. The number of visitors taking part has also risen – to around 3,250 last year. This is a great opportunity to see and learn about some of the Highlands architectural and historical gems covering a diverse range of designs and uses, past and present. There is something interesting for everyone – so why not use the programme to plan a day out with a difference?”
Doors Open Days is co-ordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust. It runs throughout Scotland every September as part of European Heritage Days, and aims to give people the chance to see inside some of the country’s most interesting buildings, many of which are not normally accessible to the general public. For more information see www.doorsopendays.org.uk and www.scottishcivictrust.org.uk. The programme in the Highlands is co-ordinated by The Highland Council’s Development and Infrastructure Service.
Further details are available in the Highland Doors Open Days programme – available from local libraries, museums, service points and visitor information centres, or online and at www.doorsopendays.org.uk.