Brighton & Hove Open Door 2010

When Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson kindly pointed out that the best things in life are free, I doubt that they had in mind Brighton & Hove Open Door which is due to take place on 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th September.

Events pretty much fall into two categories – those which require advance booking, and those which do not. As a new feature, similar events have been grouped together so that those interested in a particular subject can attend related events as a themed day.

New to the programme this year is ‘Documenting Brighton’s Heritage in 3D’ which, quite frankly, sounds fascinating. The University of Brighton is running this event as a workshop in which attendees are shown how to create three-dimensional digitisations of Brighton.

Last year’s event was the country’s biggest of its kind with 155 different attractions. This year there are 180! That includes a number of new buildings which are opening their doors to the general public for the first time. Furze Croft, a 1930s block on Furze Hill in Hove, is a personal favourite of mine as is the Coptic Church nearby. Each could be described as a hidden gem. Shoreham Power Station on the other hand is most definitely not a hidden anything but a tour is a fascinating proposition nevertheless.

To give some background, Brighton & Hove Open Door is our local offering to the national Heritage Open Days event which, in turn, is the UK’s offering to European Heritage Days. The national scheme is in its 16th year though our local programme is in its 17th as it started out as one of six trial events one year before the rest were set up. Nick Tyson should be mentioned for the huge amount of work that he has put into organising the event over the years.

Alongside the new, all of the regular favourites are included such as ‘Brighton’s Magnificent Sewers’, the Sussex Masonic Centre, the Middle Street Synagogue and the Regency Town House (where Nick and his team are based). Two favourites in the making are the Clayton Tunnel North Portal and ‘Graffiti: An Exploration with Heavy Artillery’ which appeared for the first time last year to great acclaim.

Not only are the Open Door events free, they are remarkably accessible as well. Some events require booking but with many it is simply a case of turning up – see www.rth.org.uk for details.