Buxton is to celebrate the national Heritage Open Days festival by demonstrating how its past is poised to bring a better future.
A university which created the UK’s first spa degree, an opera house staffed by volunteers, England’s answer to New York’s Central Park and the oldest hotel in the country will have their stories told with the help of some of the most colourful characters from the town’s past, brought back to life by actors.
The event will demonstrate Buxton’s resurgence as a spa town, underlined by the £46 million restoration of the last major piece of the jigsaw of the town’s heritage – the magnificent Georgian Crescent, which is currently being turned into the Peak District’s first five-star hotel.
The Crescent developers will be offering a sneak preview of The Pump Room, closed for decades, where the Victorians took the waters, while the University of Derby will show visitors how its Buxton campus has evolved from a stable into a hospital and now a seat of learning – all capped by one of the largest unsupported domes in the world.
Dr Sarah Rawlinson, the university’s Head of the School of Hotel Resort and Spa Management, said: “Businesses have a duty and responsibility to be in active partnership in preserving our heritage, and here the University of Derby gives an excellent example of how this can be achieved in terms of bringing this campus back to life with a new purpose.”
The Old Hall Hotel – England’s oldest – will open Queen Mary’s Bower, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned before her execution in 1587. A character actor in costume will tell her story.
And Buxton Opera House, saved by the public from dereliction and now run by volunteers, will have a guide playing the role of one of the actresses from its Edwardian hey-day. Next door is the Pavilion Gardens, 23 acres of pleasure gardens right in the town centre.
The Heritage Open Days run from September 8 - 11, and all the events are free. For more details, visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk.