Rare glimpse inside Harrogate's nuclear bunker

The site of Harrogate's nuclear bunker - Harrogate Borough Council's offices at Crescent Gardens.
The site of Harrogate's nuclear bunker - Harrogate Borough Council's offices at Crescent Gardens.
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A nuclear bunker in Harrogate is just one of the historic buildings across the district set to open their doors to the public for free this weekend as part of Heritage Open Days.

This year's event runs from today, Thursday to Sunday and includes a huge host of historical and architectural treasures, offering everyone the chance to see some hidden places and try out new experiences.

An example of a nuclear bunker, in this case York's.

An example of a nuclear bunker, in this case York's.

From churches to cemeteries, museums, mills and school libraries, through to theatres, playhouses and art galleries - and that nuclear shelter - the variety of locations on offer is amazing.

This year's Heritage Open Days will mark the last opportunity to visit the Mayor’s Parlour in its current location at Crescent Gardens as part of Heritage Open Days.

Happening for the first time will be tours of Harrogate's Odeon Cinema, followed by a Question and Answer session about the cinema and the history of other local film houses.

Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for culture, Coun Stanley Lumley said: “The theme of this year’s Heritage Open Days is ‘Treasure Your Treasures’ and we’ve certainly got plenty to choose from across the Harrogate district.

“The Heritage Open Days offer a chance for local people and tourists alike to visit some amazing properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge admission, as well as meeting some of the volunteers who work tirelessly to bring local history and culture to life.”

Other attractions in 2016 include a guided tour of Harrogate's stunning Edwardian Royal Hall, a walk to the ‘Witch of the Woods’ cottage in Galphay, a tour of Pateley Playhouse, and a visit the Police Treatment Centre in Harrogate.

For full details of locations, access and opening times, go to www.heritageopendays.org.uk and search for the venue you would like to visit.

Heritage Open Days: Top 5 places to visit

1. Crescent Gardens Nuclear Shelter

Location: Harrogate Borough Council, Council Offices, Crescent Gardens, Harrogate.

A very rare opportunity to view the secure bunker in the basement of Harrogate’s Council Offices, which was created in the 1960s to provide a security hub for chief Council officials in the event of nuclear attack.

The bunker was decommissioned many years ago but offers a fascinating insight into a tense period of 20th Century international relations.

Event not suitable for children under the age of 12.

Time: Thursday, September 8: Tour - 2pm-2.30pm.1400-1430

Pre-booking: Required. Tour strictly limited to 8 people. Call 01423 556188 or email museums@harrogate.gov.uk

2. Harrogate Theatre

Location: Oxford Street, Harrogate.

Guided tours lasting approximately 45 minutes of entire theatre, including access backstage to see our fly floor and you may even meet our theatre ghost Alice! Please note access is via many stairs.

Elegant Victorian interior with Art Nouveau bas relief frieze in foyer and plaque listing famous artists who performed here. Meet in Theatre Foyer, Oxford Street.

Time: Friday, September 9: Tours at 10.30am, 11.30am and 1.30pm.

Pre-booking: There are 15 places per tour and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis on the day. Visit www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk

3. Harrogate Club

Location: 36 Victoria Avenue, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 5PR

Elegant double bow-fronted Victorian house where a gentlemens' club was founded in 1875, containing much original furnishing and decoration. Billiards room on first floor once patronised by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Titus Salt. Extensively redecorated last year with displays of portraits from the Borough Council's collection.

Time: Saturday, September 10: Tours at 11am, 2pm and 3pm.

Pre-booking: Required. Contact www.harrogateclub.co.uk/

4. Nidderdale Museum

Location: Nidderdale Museum, King Street, Pateley Bridge.

The Nidderdale Museum will be open free of charge to visitors as part of Heritage Open Days and is made up of 11 rooms of exhibitions on different aspects of local history. These collections and exhibitions include photographs, costumes and other artefacts to recreate an image of the Nidderdale area throughout its history.

Time: Sunday, September 11: 1.30pm-4.30pm.

Pre-booking: No booking required.

5. St Wilfrid's Church, Harrogate

Location: Duchy Road, Harrogate.

Harrogate town has plenty of historic buildings taking part in the Heritage Open Day but only one is Grade One listed – St Wilfrid’s church on Duchy Road.

The church was consecrated in 1914, and has been described as “the masterpiece” of renowned church architect Temple Moore.

All of this and more can be explored by visitors any day of the week but, with the aid of Harrogate Civic Society, curator Catherine Wright will be leading two guided tours of the site.

Time: Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11 at noon and 1pm.

Pre-booking: Required. To book your free place on the tour email bookings@stwilfrid.org with preferred time or call Rebecca Oliver on 01423 504629.

Teas and coffee will be available on the day.