Open Doors launches undercover at South Wales Police Heritage Centre

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Wales’s much-loved museums, historic attractions and unusual landmarks will welcome thousands of visitors next month with the return of Open Doors.

Funded and organised by Cadw, the annual and ever-popular festival will see hundreds of historic sites across Wales offer free entry, activities and events to visitors throughout September. 

From historical castles of Welsh Princes to Roman gold mines and abandoned churches, the people of Wales and beyond will have the opportunity to peek inside iconic buildings, explore hidden gems and unlock access to some of the country’s best-kept heritage secrets.

With over 300 sites gearing up to take part in the Wales-wide scheme, Open Doors has, today (29 August), officially launched at the South Wales Police Heritage Centre — one of the more unusual heritage premises taking part in the celebrations this year.

Held under tight security and located in the basement of Police Headquarters in Bridgend, the newly re-opened Heritage Centre will offer visitors a unique glimpse into the history of South Wales policing, complete with a chance to step inside a Victorian police cell and criminal charge room.

Guests to the Centre’s official Open Doors event on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 September will also be given rare access to one of the largest police artefact collections in the UK. 

Dating from the Celtic age to present day, the collection boasts communication devices of years gone by, nineteenth-century dress uniforms, extensive policing equipment including truncheons and cutlasses, and even a locked cabinet of criminal weapons, which have been confiscated from the modern-day streets of Wales.
Other unusual sites participating in Open Doors include the beautiful Gardens at Gwaenynog Hall in Denbighshire, which inspired the famous Beatrix Potter tales of Peter Rabbit, and St Michael’s Church in Ceredigion, a redundant structure which is usually not open to the public.
Visitors can also enjoy breathtaking views across the Breacon Beacons and Wye Valley from The Kymin in Monmouthshire — a quirky, hilltop Georgian property complete with a 200-year-old bowling green which is holding an Open Doors event on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September.
Meanwhile, on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September, peaceful afternoon strolls can also be enjoyed through Dyffryn Gardens — a 55-acre, tranquil oasis and exceptional example of Edwardian design in the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan.  

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “Cadw is committed to making Wales’s heritage accessible to everyone and Open Doors is a fantastic way to showcase our iconic heritage sites, but also our hidden, and perhaps less obvious, historic gems.
“With such a rich blend of historic landmarks on our doorstep and an abundance of fascinating stories to discover, I hope that local people and visitors alike will be inspired to explore the wealth of heritage that Wales has to offer and make the most of the free activities and events taking place throughout September”.
South Wales Police’s Chief Constable Matt Jukes said: ““We are delighted to host the launch of Open Doors 2018. Our own heritage is important, not just to the Force but to its communities. Our newly refurbished Heritage Centre reflects the role of policing across south Wales through times of war and periods of tremendous social upheaval. 

“The tragedies and achievements of our communities are reflected in our history and we are proud to be part of an initiative that seeks to reveal the stories, places and people that connect us to our past.”

Some venues have limited numbers of spaces or require advance booking. Visit www.cadw.gov.wales/open-doors/ for full events listings and details of all properties taking part in the Open Doors 2018 programme.