VISITORS FLOCK TO HERITAGE VENUES.
VENUES across Coventry and Warwickshire threw open their doors to the public at the weekend.
Popular and little-known buildings and attractions throughout the county welcomed people in for a free look around.
The events formed part of the national Heritage Open Days weekend which, for the 19th year, revealed hidden gems of the community such as Coventry's Charterhouse Building. The Carthusian Priory, off London Road, was among a long list of places of cultural interest to allow curious people inside - from Coventry Electric Museum, Weaver's Cottages and Coventry Transport Museum to Astley Castle, Nuneaton, Chesterton Windmill, near Harbury, and Bagot's Castle in Baginton.
Founded in 1831 as a monastery for a silent order of monks before it was demolished by King Henry VIII in the period after 1539, Charterhouse was used as a college building before The Charterhouse Coventry Preservation Trust (CCPT) took over the Grade I-listed building last year.
Self-confessed history enthusiasts Bob Airlie and his wife Gill joined a steady stream of visitors to tour the historic site yesterday. Bob, 67, of Ernesford Grange, said: "I last came here in the 70s for a health and safety course so I knew a bit of its history but I only really saw the training room.
"It's a wonderful place and I'm glad it now opens for the public to enjoy."
Ian Harrabin, CCPT chairman, said: "We had 500 visitors on Saturday alone. Events like this are hugely important for us to get people interested, recruit volunteers and generate donations."
Meanwhile, the National Express Coventry garage, opposite Pool Meadow bus station in the city centre, opened to the public for the first time yesterday to offer a rare look behind the scenes where buses are washed and maintained.
National Express Coventry driver Stuart Brown, 42, of Longford, snapped up the opportunity to show the area off to his family.
"They've come to the gate but they've never been allowed into the garage like this before," Stuart said.
Mum Kerry Merrett, 34, of Stoke, Coventry - whose eightyear-old son Ryan Merrett was keen to get behind the wheel - said: "It's brilliant because it's not like a museum, it gives kids the chance to touch and feel the buses - and what kid doesn't love a bus."
Sharon Challis-Brown, of National Express Coventry, said: "This event was a unique opportunity for people to experience what happens in a working bus garage for a company that provides a service to the local community."
HISTORICAL GEMS: The Charterhouse Building (left), off London Road, was among a long list of places which opened it doors to curious visitors, including Bob and Gill Airlie (below)
RARE LOOK: From top to bottom, Alan Cluff and Louise Cooper look at the remains of the 14th century Bagot's Castle in Baginton; Rheba Horsfall with her daughter Jenny and grandchildren Lauren, aged six, and Ben, aged two, in the cab of a battery driven shunter engine and Ryan Merrett, aged eight, behind the wheel of the Birmingham No 11 bus