How Bradford City Hall could lead city to a 'new golden age' in tribute to great leaders of the past

BRADFORD is preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its City Hall – with the area around the iconic building set to undergo some major changes.

This weekend the public will be invited to tour the inside of hall – the first section of which was opened on September 9 1873.

The open days on Saturday and Sunday will give people the rare chance to see areas of the hall that have welcomed kings and queens, see parts of the building that have been used for TV and film and also glimpse town treasures collected over the years, including elaborate cigar lighters and a pair of asparagus tongs gifted to the city.

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Built mainly in a medieval gothic style, with touches of Venetian and Italian, the Grade I-listed building is the crowning achievement of architects Lockwood & Mawson, who designed Titus Salt’s Mill and model village at Saltaire among others. Originally called the Town Hall, it was hailed as a “magnificent architectural triumph” and showed the rest of the globe its sense of importance as “Worstedopolis” the textile capital of the world.

Razwana Mahmoon, who will be taking visitors on guided tours of the Hall.Razwana Mahmoon, who will be taking visitors on guided tours of the Hall.
Razwana Mahmoon, who will be taking visitors on guided tours of the Hall.

And this week, business leaders from across the region were invited to the building to learn about its past and hear about the plans for the future of the city centre.

The hall – home to Bradford Council, was built in three parts – with the first section completed in 1873.

Inspired by the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the Victorian building is famous for its 35 7ft-high statues of British monarchy that stand on the building’s exterior – Queen Victoria being the most recent.

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Its interior has been used as a film set for everything from Bollywood to Peaky Blinders, and it was even used as a courtroom until 1975.

Bradford City Hall celebrates its 150th anniversaryBradford City Hall celebrates its 150th anniversary
Bradford City Hall celebrates its 150th anniversary

In the 150 years since it opened it has been a constant in a rapidly changing city centre.

David Shepherd, Bradford Council’s director of place, said the anniversary of City Hall was a chance to look at Bradford’s past, but also reflect on its future, including the year of City of Culture festivities in 2025.

He said: “The built environment outside this building is rapidly changing.

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“This building reminds us of the importance of safeguarding our heritage, something we are going to do more than ever in the City of Culture year.

The Mayoress's parlour.The Mayoress's parlour.
The Mayoress's parlour.

“If you lose your identity you can become invisible. We have an amazing opportunity with City of Culture to remind people what Bradford stands for.”

Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “I look at this place and think about all the great leaders we’ve had before and their ambition.

“Many of the buildings nearby were fashioned in the same time and we’ve worked hard to preserve them.

“We have to make sure we match that ambition with our future plans, and that we create a new golden age for the Bradford district through new investment. ”