Heritage open days

By | Category: Travel destinations

Today sees the end of the heritage open days that we see every September in England.

The Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham was one building of the heritage days’ listings

Except this September has been unlike any in most people’s living memory.

Usually about 50,000 volunteers turn up to help organise various displays and events.  Last year there were 5,700 events and nearly 2.5 million of us visited different sites.

This year the numbers haven’t been maintained. Partially that is due to a large number of sites only being open for pre-booked events. In addition some sites haven’t been open such as my local castle which suffered not just from the pandemic but because of a small collapse of an outer wall. It hasn’t stopped tourists coming and having a moan outside the locked gates about why they cannot enter to wander around the grounds.

It is also partially due to the age of those volunteers. Many are in age groups that might be severely affected by the virus. Many have health problems requiring a little bit of diligence in what they should do and so they are not yet returning to the volunteering roles upon which so many heritage sites depend.

Another issue has been the fact that, whilst the grounds around heritage sites are open, many have yet to re-open the buildings themselves. Then there are areas in the UK where local lockdowns have made it nigh on impossible to re-open.

On top if that there is the problem with social distancing itself.

Walking up the spiral towers of castles makes it difficult to stay two metres away from anyone. Anyone with less than an athletic build usually uses the handrails and these have to be sanitised regularly. If there is only one way up and the same way down, how to do you control visitor movements?

As one person told me on an unconnected issue, opening is more trouble than its worth!

We aren’t alone in facing this. In EU countries it has been European Heritage Week. It has been like any other year in some countries whilst others have been muted affairs.

Now that I have told you that it has been a week of heritage days, how many readers actually knew that it was happening?

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