A record number of historic buildings and activities across Sunderland are taking part in this year's Heritage Open Days (7-10 September).

The annual nationwide programme, which is the largest free celebration of architecture, history and culture, is a chance for people to explore and experience their local heritage.

The Tyne and Wear programme, co-ordinated by local authorities and organisations across the region and in partnership with local history volunteers, began sixteen years ago and is one of the biggest events in the country. This year there are over 205 venues and activities taking part across Tyne and Wear, 48 of which are taking place in Sunderland.
On a national level, the event is managed by the National Trust and funded by the People's Postcode Lottery.

In Tyne & Wear, Heritage Open Days is co-ordinated by the Councils of Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland, in association with Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, NE1, RIBA North East, Sunderland Heritage Forum and the Newcastle upon Tyne Association of City Guides. This is the fifth year the event has been sponsored by the Port of Tyne.

Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Tyne, Andrew Moffat,said: "The Port of Tyne is pleased to be able to support Heritage Open Days once again and help visitors enjoy places that are not normally open to the public. The Port is joining in by opening up the historic Swing Bridge and the lighthouse on Tynemouth Pier.The Tyne and Wear programme is one of the country's best with something for everyone of all ages and interests. This is a great opportunity to be inspired to get to know more about the heritage of Tyne and Wear and enjoy some great experiences with all the family."

Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: "This annual event keeps getting bigger and bigger and shows the tremendous enthusiasm people have for finding out more about their local area, landmark buildings and history.
"We see a record number of buildings and venues across Sunderland taking part this year. We have such a rich cultural heritage in Sunderland and this is a wonderful opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes and get involved in a huge range of unusual and unique activities."

Councillor Kelly added: "We have so much going on this year, including the chance to see some rarely seen editions of Punch magazine, fascinating heritage walks through some of our most historic areas, and visits to buildings such as Guru Gobind Sing Gurdwara Sikh Temple.  As a shortlisted UK City of Culture nominee, Heritage Open Days gives Sunderland an opportunity to showcase its cultural venues and historical assets all of which support the city's chances of success."

Venues, events and activities in Sunderland include:

• Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Walkabout
• Tom Taylor with a 'Punch' - rarely seen editions of Punch magazine
• Guru Gobind Sing Gurdwara Sikh Temple
• Eagle Building
• Hetton & Rainton Heritage Walk
• Quaker Meeting House
• Sunderland's Urban Geology
• Church of the Good Shepherd
• Wor Poppy Walk
• NE Electrical Traction Trust
• Hard hat tours of Hylton Castle
• Houghton Le Spring in old photographs
• Ryhope Engines Museum Steaming Weekend
• Darwin Brewery open day
• Port of Sunderland guided tour

A Tyne & Wear Heritage Open Days 2017 guide giving details of all the participating buildings, tours and talks will be available at all local libraries and museums from the beginning of August. In addition, more information will be online on the website at www.heritageopendays.org.uk

*Please note that the the following tours are fully booked: Port of Sunderland, Historic Pub tour and SAFC former football grounds tour.*