Gosport Heritage Open Days’ programme launched

Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas explores what’s in store for us for free in mid-September…

GOSPORT Heritage Open Days are almost upon us and the programme of more than 70 ‘free to explore’ events is now available.

This annual celebration of the history and tradition which is all around Gosport will be spread over ten days from September 10 to 19, allowing time for many events to be repeated and for people to visit, walk around or look at as many as possible.

The Vice-Chair of GHOD, Peter Cardy OBE, told The Globe the main aim is, “to enable people to see local heritage close up”.

And some of these heritage ‘close ups’ are rarely available to the public, including the ability to go inside Fort Brockhurst and Fort Blockhouse, or to have guided tours of a heritage site or area.

‘It is important to have new  events

which bring in new people’

An indication of how much heritage there is in the borough is that about half of this year’s programme is new because, Mr Cardy explained: “It is important to have new events which bring in new people.” Those previously featured in GHOD are being ‘rested’ or could not be offered this year for various reasons including lack of people to plan or run the event.

He also said an important part of the thinking behind this year’s programme was, “to wherever possible, get people into the outdoors” and, linked to that, to make sure as many as possible were accessible by disabled people.

All this is made evident in the programme with the use of symbols against each event though there are some differences in the colours used between the online version and the leaflet for ‘booking needed’ and ‘guided walk’.

The national theme for the heritage open days is ‘Edible England’ and, while Gosport is not rural and agricultural – about 70 per cent of the borough is urbanised – it does have allotments and Royal Clarence Yard which is remembered as the site for, “Feeding the Navy”

Discover Digital Gosport

There is even the opportunity for those who like to have their experiences ‘virtually’ to find out about selected aspects of Gosport’s heritage.

Throughout the ten days, it will be possible to click on the Discover Digital Gosport link in the GHOD’s website and view video clips, presentations, talks, local photographs and craft displays.

Peter Cardy made special mention of the History of Sail Training digital display because, “sail training in the post-World War II period began in Gosport”.

Booking a place from August 21

The digital displays are available without booking and so are the many events where people can just turn up. However, places for some must be reserved in advance. This is made clear in the programme and the booking line opens next Saturday – August 21 at 9.30am.

Reserving a place can be done online at: http://www.gosportheritage.co.uk/booking-2021

For those who prefer to use more traditional methods of obtaining information and making a booking, the Tourist Information Centre in Gosport bus station will offer assistance – it is open Monday to Saturday 09.30 to 17.00. Or people can telephone 02392 522 944 or 07849 399 823.

And it is worth checking whether events have been added to the programme. The leaflet, which is available from the Tourist Information Centre and other outlets around the borough, lists 66 events but since being printed, five more have been added.

With more than 70 events, Gosport is yet again showing how much it values its heritage and it has done so since 1992 when the borough ran pilot events before the annual national heritage celebration started in 1994.

As the website and programme make clear, GHOD is made possible by the many volunteers who, “give of their time, skills and enthusiasm”, plus some funding from Hampshire County Council and HMS Sultan Charities Fund, with Gosport Borough Council supporting the publicity.

Photo (above): Max Mudie (left) and Peter Cardy (right, blue shirt) at Lee-on-the-Solent’s Summer Festival telling people about this year’s GHOD