New volunteers sought to work in Bradford's Victorian police cells that appeared in Peaky Blinders

The courtroom dates from 1853
The courtroom dates from 1853
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Bradford Police Museum trustees are recruiting new volunteers to help take care of the preserved Victorian courtroom and cells.

The former police station can found deep within Bradford City Hall, and was in operation from 1873 until 1974 before becoming a museum dedicated to the history of crime and policing in 2015.

The cells have accommodated many notorious criminals - including a Nazi bomber crew whose plane crashed nearby

The cells have accommodated many notorious criminals - including a Nazi bomber crew whose plane crashed nearby

Hundreds of murderers passed through the site, as well as innumerable other common criminals, and the great escapologist Harry Houdini managed to break free from the jail in just 20 minutes during a publicity stunt in 1904.

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The Victorian courtroom has been used to film Official Secrets, Emmerdale, Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders and Peaky Blinders.

Today, the cells, courtroom and parade room are open to the public as the Bradford Police Museum, a sometimes-ghoulish visitor attraction which has become one of the city's hidden gems.

Many of the museum's volunteers are retired police officers, but trustees are keen to expand the workforce to include people from a wider range of backgrounds.

The staff look after a collection of memorabilia on display in the old parade room that includes an old Velocette 'Noddy' motorcycle, Victorian truncheons and other artifacts spanning 150 years of law enforcement in Bradford.

They also lead tours, man the ticket desk and run events such as the Halloween ghost walk and mock trials. A further collection of historic police vehicles is kept off-site.

The courtroom is preserved as it would have looked in 1900. Around 5,000 visitors per year are admitted to the museum, which is open on Fridays and Saturdays between March and November.

The museum tells the story of Bradford's pioneering police force, which was the first outside London to use fingerprint evidence to secure a conviction, the first to use a taped murder confession in court - it was recorded covertly in the City Hall cells - and the first to use colour photography in the 1930s.

An open morning will be held on Saturday February 15 from 9.30am-12pm for anyone interested in becoming a volunteer custodian.

Roles available include tour guides, curators, vehicle mechanics and meet and greet staff.

Museum director Martin Baines said:-

“We’re an independent museum staffed purely by volunteers, so we really do rely on people who are passionate about preserving Bradford’s heritage to help us run the place. Volunteering at the museum is incredibly rewarding, and people tend to learn something new and fascinating every time they come here.

"It’s such a unique and historic space to work in, truly one of Bradford’s hidden gems. I would like to welcome anyone who’s interested in joining us to come along to our open morning and find out a bit more for themselves. There’s no obligation to volunteer, and we promise not to lock you in the cells!”