PEOPLE are being given the chance to explore a traffic-free Dorchester town centre.

As part of the national Heritage Open Days, High West Street and High East Street will be closed to traffic from 9.30am on September 15 to allow people to enjoy Dorchester’s finest street without cars, noise and fumes.

Former prison officers will also be holding tours around the old town jail.

And the popular hokey-cokey in the street is set to return as well.

“You’ll be able to join a tour of the historic buildings of the street, hear about how the King’s Arms is being transformed and enjoy a free visit to Shire Hall”, said Steve Newman, clerk to Dorchester Heritage Committee.

“We’re delighted that Stepnell, the construction company working on the King’s Arms project, is the headline sponsor for this event.

“They have generously given both funding and time to make sure this event is a true celebration of our finest buildings.”

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like behind bars, this is the day to find out, as Dorchester Prison will be open to the public and guided tours will be led by former Dorchester prison officers.

Town Crier Alistair Chisholm said: “We’re really grateful to Andy Stevens of UCAP Valiant and local prison officers for making this possible.

“One of the most popular features of last year’s event was the mass hokey-cokey outside Tom Brown’s pub.

“It’s back again this year, which is fantastic.”

“Dorchester has an unusually rich heritage and we are delighted that The King’s Arms will soon be back to its best - another important piece in the local jigsaw,” said Rob Greacen of Stay Original, one of the other sponsors of the event.

Acheson Construction, C.G. Fry & Son, Dorchester BID, PGP, Christmas and Brugge and Porter Dodson have all provided funding to allow a range of events to take place.

Tours by Roman soldiers, pavement art, talks about Dorchester’s historic past and displays by Dorset History Centre are all part of the programme this year and former Mayor, David Taylor, will be giving his popular ‘Secret Tunnels of Dorchester’ talk.

The event runs from 11am to 4pm on Sunday 15 September (the road closes to traffic at 9.30am).

The full programme will be available soon.

It is a Dorchester Heritage Committee initiative, developed in partnership with local heritage organisations and businesses.