6th Sep 2019
This weekend, the Barr Group are excited to join the Oxford Preservation Trust in their annual celebration of our great city. This, the twelfth Oxford Open Doors event, sees the most impressive list of cultural, historical, architectural and scenic spaces open yet (and without charge!). Click here for the full programme for 14th and 15th September.
In the words of Debbie Dance, OPT director, Oxford Open Doors is for everyone, the young and the older, individuals - or with family and friends, everyone is invited. The whole event is free to ensure that it is accessible to all - there is always something more to learn about our great city and its heritage. The event themed MADE IN OXFORD is a magical mix of ‘town and gown’, old and new, hidden treasures, stories, and people, as well as, of course, some of the extraordinary research and scientific achievements coming from the city.
Oxford Open Doors is an example of the very best in collaborative working. The Oxford Preservation Trust team spend countless hours agreeing on the places and dates, balancing the events across the weekend, liaising with the old-timers like Magdalen who support the event each year, and working with those less practiced, and could justifiably be a little daunted when they learn of the likely visitor numbers. In 2018, 30,000 people took in 150,000 visits. Thanks to the team’s exceptional organisation and to the 200 strong team of volunteers who will be out and about over the weekend, offering support, things will doubtless go as smoothly as ever.
Oxford Castle & Prison
It all began with OPT contributing to the ‘Thousand years of Oxfordshire’ celebrations and what was then ‘Opening Doors, Opening Minds’ funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, held in June with twenty-five venues opening ‘offering behind-the-scenes glimpses of some of the city's most fascinating places’. The original Open Doors two paged leaflet has now almost become a book!
All Souls College
Up there on this year’s ‘must visit’ list are All Souls College, who open on Sunday just as they did for the very first event, a silver band playing to add to the atmosphere. St. John’s, Nuffield, Somerville and Wolfson Colleges and many of the museums are also taking part then just as they did in 2007. The Iffley Road Track where Sir Roger Banister famously ran the first four minute mile, with his Gold Olympic medals on display, will be open - why not have a go yourself.
The Painted Room
One great example of what OPT has achieved over the years is the Painted Room – which, back in 2007 saw around 30 visitors. Now leased by the OPT it is expected to receive over 2,000 visitors this year. There is also a walk to the LMS Swingbridge which will be opening just prior to the big restoration programme for which OPT has raised the funding (the Swingbridge is now OPT owned).
The BMW visitor centre opens for the first time, and Oxford Brookes, who opened Headington Hill Hall in 2007, will this year include their Harcourt Hill Campus. If you are going, do look out for the little 17th-century Conduit House which you’ll pass on the way, once providing water to the Carfax Conduit, now in Nuneham Park which is also opening.
There are also lots of events around the Covered Market including OPT’s own restoration project, with family trails both there and at the Castle (including prizes for everyone!). New and contemporary architecture also features strongly, with Beecroft building in the University’s Science Area, Parks Road, which was just won the RIBA South Building of the Year and a RIBA National Award 2019.
The Barr Group are to be proud members of the Oxford Preservation Trust. Having worked on numerous projects, in and around the City, we are huge supporters of the incredible work they do behind the scenes. In conjunction with OPT, Historic England, Oxford City Council Conservation and other specialist experts, our construction and joinery work becomes both meaningful and fulfilling. We look forward to taking this weekend to step back and appreciate many of the cities wonders.