Unlocking years of history as doors to unique venues open

Take a step back in time...and enjoy the 1940s House in Cupar.
Take a step back in time...and enjoy the 1940s House in Cupar.

If you fancy taking a peek behind the doors of a former theatre, old jail cell or a house from the 1940s, you will have a unique opportunity to do so next month.

For these buildings and many more besides will be open, free of charge, as part of the annual Doors Open Days which starts in Fife on September 3.

Outside the Kings Theatre in Kirkcaldy -  Kings Hub launched by Dave Clark and Stephen Barbour. Credit  - Fife Photo Agency

Outside the Kings Theatre in Kirkcaldy - Kings Hub launched by Dave Clark and Stephen Barbour. Credit - Fife Photo Agency

Whether you are interested in the old or new, this year’s diverse range of venues and guided walks guarantees something to intrigue locals and visitors of all ages.

Each day promises access to strange, unusual and interesting places which are often closed to the public for the rest of the year.

Doors Open Days will take place in Fife across three weekends next month – East Fife on Sunday, September 3, Central Fife on Sunday, September 10 and West Fife on Sunday, September 17.

There will be 14 different places in East Fife opening up on Sunday, September 3.

Inside The Kings Theatre. Credit  - Fife Photo Agency

Inside The Kings Theatre. Credit - Fife Photo Agency

The 1940s House in Cupar is just one of the venues set to welcome visitors.

An example of a then modern, comfortable home, it was originally built as a private dwelling in 1936.

The house has changed little since it was first inhabited with the current owners continuing to sympathetically reverse any modernisations that have taken place in subsequent years.

It’s still lived in with the owners embracing the lifestyle, furnishings, technology and pastimes of the 1940s.

The main entrance to Kirkcaldy Galleries.

The main entrance to Kirkcaldy Galleries.

Janice Laird, community manager of North East Fife, said: “This is a hidden gem of a property that many would not even know exists.

“Doors Open Days give you the chance to explore places and buildings that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to see.

“In this instance, it even gives visitors a chance to step back in time.

“I encourage everyone to come out and discover this and the many other buildings and sites that are open for one day only across North East Fife.”

Visitors will be able to see inside Cambo Heritage Centre.

Visitors will be able to see inside Cambo Heritage Centre.

Another venue which will be accessible to the public for the first time as part of the event is Cambo Heritage Centre (pictured above, far right).

The historic stable block, dating from the 1760s, is currently being transformed by builders into a visitor centre, cafe, shop and learning hub.

The centre will open in October but this is a chance to see behind the scenes a few weeks early. It will open from 10.30am to 4pm.

Also taking part in Doors Open Days for the first time is Watts Old Jail Cell in Cupar’s Station Road.

People will be able to access the old jail cell and view local photographs. It will be open from noon to 6pm.

Other local highlights include the opportunity to go inside Fife’s last remaining windmill in St Monans, the Isle of May and Fife Folk Museum in Ceres.

Meanwhile, in central Fife, 15 buildings will be opening their doors on September 10 including Kirkcaldy’s King’s Theatre.

Tours of the building – which started life in 1904 and is currently undergoing a major refurbishment – took place last year and proved to be a big hit with the public who were keen to see work being done to restore the theatre to its former glory.

Stephen Barbour, head of events for the King’s Theatre, said: “We’ll be running two 45-minute tours per hour from 9am to 9pm.

“All 24 tours are now fully booked – they all went in three days! But, because of that, and due to the ongoing demand for tours of the Kings Theatre Kirkcaldy, we have decided to add an extra day for visitors.

“That will take place on Sunday, September 24, and can be booked by emailing stephen@tktk.co.uk or by sending a direct message to our Facebook page.

“The former YW building will also be open and people are welcome to visit between 9am and 9pm and have a walk through.

“There will be volunteers throughout the building ready to share all the future plans for the site and what people can expect.

“The tours will take in a lot more of the theatre than we were able to show last year – there’s now access to the projection room areas.”

Tours will leave from the King’s Hub beside the theatre.

Other local venues taking part for the first time are Kirkcaldy Galleries; Lochgelly Centre and Rothes Halls in Glenrothes. Visit www.doorsopendays.org.uk.

Doors Open Days: brief history

Doors Open Days is Scotland’s largest free festival celebrating the built environment. It gives free access to hundreds of venues across the country throughout September. Its objective is to promote architecture and heritage sites to a wider audience. It gives people access to buildings not normally open to the public and also offers tours and interactive events to allow Scots to discover their history. In 1990, as part of the European City of Culture celebrations, the Scottish Civic Trust co-ordinated the first Doors Open Days in the UK. Its popularity encouraged several other areas to take part the following year.