Historic doors across Midlothian are to open

Shine a light on Midlothian's mining heritage with a visit to the National Mining Museum Scotland.
Shine a light on Midlothian's mining heritage with a visit to the National Mining Museum Scotland.

The spotlight will be firmly fixed on Midlothian’s rich and varied heritage when almost 30 historic buildings take part in the annual Doors Open Day.

The annual event will be held in Midlothian on Saturday when a wondrous array of properties will fling open their doors to the public free of charge.

Some of the venues are firm favourites of Doors Open Day but there are a few new arrivals this year.

Joining in the fun will be Dalkeith Corn Exchange and Dalkeith Museum. Situated at the east end of Dalkeith High Street, the Corn Exchange recently re-opened following a £3.8 million refurbishment.

The Corn Exchange dates back to 1854, and at the time was the largest indoor grain market in Scotland.

Over the years it has witnessed a number of political meetings involving several British prime ministers including William Gladstone and Winston Churchill. It has also been used as a roller-skating venue, cinema, theatre and dance hall.

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to welcome the public to the restored Corn Exchange as part of this year’s Doors Open Day,” said Melville Housing chief executive Andrew Noble.

“The reception area and first floor balcony will be open and give a fantastic view of some of the unique features of the building. There will also be information boards and a slide show presentation showing how the work progressed.

“The new Dalkeith Museum, staffed by volunteers from the Dalkeith History Society, will also be open and can be accessed from the public entrance on St Andrew Street. We look forward to welcoming people on the day.”

Penicuik Community Development Trust has a major input into this year’s Doors Open Day. It will be hosting events at Penicuik Town Hall, Pen-y-Coe Press and Penicuik’s Lost Garden. There will be a chance to see progress at Penicuik Community Alliance’s Storehouse initiative.

Trust members will be telling the story of the town hall while at the Bridge Street printers, Pen-y-Coe Press, there will be a chance to visit the new Papermaking Museum.

The Lost Garden, a community food project to restore the walled garden, can be found on the Penicuik Estate.

The Storehouse, on the High Street, is an ambitious project to turn an empty shop into a community shop with cafe and meeting room.

Alliance and trust chairman Roger Kelly said: “We are working all out to put on a great show. Taking part in Doors Open Day is important from our point of view especially as we have got something such as the Storehouse and Papermaking Museum to show. It is a great opportunity.”

If you are looking for Doors Open Day themes, why not tour some of Midlothian’s most historic churches?

Taking part is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dalkeith; Crichton Collegiate Church, near Pathhead; Lasswade Church; Newbattle Church, Dalkeith; Rosewell Parish Church; and St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Dalkeith.

If you are looking for a handful of stunning venues within walking distance, then Dalkeith is probably your best bet. As well as the Corn Exchange, museum and St Mary’s Church, there is Dalkeith Masonic Lodge on the High Street, and Dalkeith Country Park, where the new Restoration Yard recently opened.

Dalkeith Fire Station, on Abbey Road, is well worth a visit for displays and the chance to sit in a fire engine.

Newbattle Abbey College’s must-see exhibition about World War Two is a special Doors Open Day feature. “Putting on the Blitz” celebrates the final stages of the college’s exciting Heritage Lottery-funded project.

The day will feature an exhibition, documentary screening, curator’s talk, WWII vehicles, pop-up from the Mobile Military Museum, NAAFI, 1940s entertainment, storytelling and children’s activities.

At Cousland Smiddy visitors can watch blacksmithing demonstrations throughout the day.

Guided tours of Vogrie House, near Gorebridge, are available while the National Mining Museum Scotland, Newtongrange, is offering special tours (which must be booked in advance by contacting 0131 663 7519).

Find out more about the work of the Gorebridge Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme or delve into the past of Arniston House, also near Gorebridge.

If you are looking for stunning views you’d be hard to beat a visit to the Midlothian Snowsport Centre at Hillend, or Soutra Aisle, near Fala, the site of a medieval hospital and friary.

Take a peek into the past at Old Pentland Cemetery, near Loanhead, which dates back to the early 17th century. And while near Loanhead pop into Lodge St Leonard Loanhead and Lasswade No 580 on Clerk Street.

Why not make a day of it? The full 2016 Midlothian Doors Open Day programme is available at www.facebook.com/MidlothianDoorsOpenDays or e-mail: doorsopendays@midlothian.gov.uk for more information.