English Heritage’s annual Heritage Open Days event takes place from September 8th-11th (full details at www.heritageopendays.org/directory). Scores of buildings around the region that are normally closed to the public will be opening their doors and offering a behind the scenes look. Museums, town halls, churches, country houses, Victorian factories, there’s a wealth of secret and largely unknown architectural gems awaiting your visit – and all for free! Steve Beauchampé looks at which local sporting venues will be making themselves available for your delectation.
Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Club, 14a Westbourne Road, Birmingham
The world’s oldest lawn tennis club still playing at its original location, EALTS grass courts date from 1872. Come and learn about the early history of lawn tennis in the city where it was first played. Includes display of historical tennis artefacts. Sunday 11th 14:00-17:00
Leamington Spa Tennis Court Club, Bedford Street, Leamington Spa
Hidden in a back street with a modest exterior and not to be confused with the town’s venerable lawn tennis club, this is one of the oldest Real Tennis courts in Britain, built in 1846/7 by Jackson on Leamington and featuring original club rooms.
Tours: Thursday 8th 11:00/Friday 9th 11:00 Pre-booking essential: 01926 456 508
Molineux Stadium Tours, Molineux, Wolverhampton
Though comprehensively redeveloped in recent years, Molineux has been home of Wolverhampton Wanderers for over 120 years. Learn about the great Wolves sides of the 1950s that pioneered European football under captain and England legend Billy Wright, go behind the scenes, view trophy cabinets and see the first stage of the stadium re-development which began in May.
One Hour Tours: Thursday 8th 16:00; 18:00/Friday 9th 10:00; 11:00
Molineux Hotel, Whitmore Hill, Wolverhampton
This was the original focal point of the Molineux sports and leisure grounds, destined to become home of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club in 1889, and once with its own boating lake, skating rink and bowling green. After years of dereliction in the shadow of the football stadium the Grade II* listed hotel, parts of which date back to 1750, has now been restored and turned into the home of the city’s Archives & Local Studies Service. An exhibition of local sporting history is taking place during Heritage Open Weekend. Pre-booking required for tours; Tel: 01902 429 212
Thursday 8th 10:00-17:00; Friday 9th 12:00-17:00; tours 13:00; 14:00; 15:00; Saturday 10th 10:00-12:00; tours 10:00; 11:00
Moor Pool Festival, Moor Pool Estate, The Circle, Harborne, Birmingham
This charming example of early 20th century social housing includes two tennis clubs, a picturesque bowling green, a snooker room and the unique ‘hidden’ dual skittle alley, 99 years old and still going strong. As featured in Played in Birmingham Sunday 11th 11:00-17:00