City Hall – Bradford’s Jewel in the crown

Bradford is an increasingly sought-after filming location and our very own City Hall could be described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the many fantastic filming locations across the district.

City Hall is a popular site for TV production companies and has been used to film some of the country’s best-loved soaps and popular dramas.  This year alone we have welcomed cast and crew from ITV’s soap opera, Emmerdale, Channel 4’s drama, National Treasure and most recently ITV’s drama, DCI Banks, starring actor Stephen Tomkinson, which filmed on 27 April 2016 in the Civic Reception Rooms.

(Picture above shows Stephen Tomkinson and co-star Caroline Catz outside the Reception Rooms during filming.

Bradford has been a popular film location since the beginning of cinema and showed some of the first film screenings outside of London at the People’s Palace, on the site where the National Media Museum now stands.  Many years ago the Bradford District was home to 56 cinemas and has been host to over 100 TV and film shoots.

The widely acclaimed 1959 film Room at the Top featured City Hall and it was reshot for a modern audience in 2010.  Other popular locations in City Hall are the Victorian courtroom, the civic reception rooms as well as the corridors and front steps.

Coronation Street filmed the famous murder trials of Gail MacIntyre and Tracy Barlow who both took to the stand in City Hall’s historic Victorian court rooms.

BBC1 drama, The Syndicate starring Lenny Henry was filmed in City Hall as was the ITV production, The Great Train Robbery, starring Oscar winning actor Jim Broadbent.

Filming crews not only descend upon City Hall, but many communities, landmarks and neighbourhoods across the district.  The city’s Crown Court was recently home to the BBC docudrama Moorside Project, a two part series airing this autumn about the disappearance of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews, starring award winning actress Sheridan Smith.

Len Palmer, City Hall’s Facilities Manager said:  “City Hall is a beautiful building and is a popular venue in the city to facilitate filming for popular TV production companies.  Filming at City Hall has merited national coverage – the benefits of which include positively promoting Bradford and adding to the region’s ever increasing rich filming heritage.”

Bradford City of Film
Bradford was the world’s first UNESCO City of Film.  Bradford has a long history associated with film and filmmaking dating back to the birth of cinema and has long been acknowledged by the film industry as a film-friendly city.  Bradford is a key location for film and TV production and further information can be found by visiting the Bradford City of Film website.

City HallAbout City Hall
The heritage of City Hall dates back to 1847, when Queen Victoria signed a Charter of Incorporation which brought together the then-separate towns of Bradford, Manningham, Horton and Bowling as a single borough.

This expanded authority needed a council, and with the charter came the permission to elect a body of 42 councillors, 14 aldermen and a mayor. Their original home wasn’t at City Hall however.  It was on Swain Street, in Fire Station House.  This was Bradford’s first Town Hall, which remained in operation for more than a quarter of a century.

As the new borough grew, it quickly became apparent that a bigger, more “fit for purpose” building was required. Rather than simply plough ahead and commission a new home, the Council in 1869 took the rather forward-thinking decision to organise a competition for prospective designers and architects to submit their plans.

There were 32 entries received, and the winning design was judged to be that submitted by Lockwood and Mawson, a Bradford architect firm which was given the commission and contracted John Ives and Son of Shipley to build it on the present site.

It took three years to build, and the final bill was £100,000. The building was 70ft high and 275ft long, with a 217ft clock tower. It was officially opened by the Mayor, Alderman Matthew Thompson, in 1873.

But the borough and the Council continued to grow, and before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 the Town Hall had been extended several times – notably in 1909 when a new Council chamber, committee rooms and Banqueting Hall were built, and in 1914 when the entrance was redesigned and a staircase incorporated.

The next major development took place in 1965 when a £12,000 refurbishment and facelift took place.

Bradford became a city in 1897 and finally had the City Hall it is now so proud of.

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