Bradford City Hall

Bradford’s historic properties

admin Local news, Period properties

We’re lucky enough to have worked on many historic and period properties in the Yorkshire region and in our last blog post, we looked at the problems of damp in such properties.

Bradford, where the Multiskill Head Office is based, has a multitude of historic properties with interesting stories, so in this month’s blog post, we thought we’d take a better look at some of them.

Bradford Town Hall (now City Hall)

We have to begin with Bradford’s magnificent Town Hall, one of the oldest buildings in the city. Now known as City Hall, this Grade I listed building was designed by local architects Lockwood and Mawson and opened as Bradford Town Hall in 1873. 

It stands in the heart of the city in Centenary Square. It was built in Venetian gothic style and its distinctive clock tower was based on the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

It is a popular destination for filming and has stood in for the House of Commons and the Old Bailey, and featured in programmes including Peaky Blinders, The ABC Murders, Spooks, DCI Banks and Coronation Street. This is in part thanks to its beautifully preserved interior, including a magnificent Victorian court room, impressive council chambers and a banqueting hall that boasts a 19th-century carved overmantel and frieze.

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall is though by many to be the oldest building in Bradford with parts dating back to medieval times.

The house was for many years the seat of two important land-owning families, the Bollings and the Tempests. During the Civil War the household supported the Royalist cause, and the house provided a stronghold during the ‘siege of Bradford’.

Following a fire in the eighteenth century, parts of the house were modernised by the architect John Carr. Bolling Hall is a rambling mixture of architectural and historical styles, with rooms furnished and decorated to give an accurate taste of life at different periods of the house’s history. Furniture on display includes a bed made for Harewood House by Thomas Chippendale.

The Wool Exchange

The Wool Exchange is a grade I listed building and was built as a wool-trading centre in the 19th century. The grandeur of its gothic architecture is symbolic of the wealth and importance that wool brought to Bradford. There was a competition to design the building, won by local architects Lockwood and Mawson (who also designed City Hall).

The building is full of interesting features, including statues and busts of explorers, pioneers, one king, one saint and several free-trade evangelists. Some of its windows have a Star of David motif, probably because some of its key investors were members of Bradford’s German-Jewish community, who contributed much to Bradford’s booming wool trade.

The Wool Exchange now houses a branch of Waterstones and is considered by many to be the most aesthetically pleasing bookshop in the UK!

East Riddlesden Hall

Owned by the National Trust, East Riddlesden Hall is a Grade I listed manor house near Keighley. The hall was built in 1642 by a wealthy Halifax cloth merchant, James Murgatroyd. However, a manor has existed on this site since the 7th century. A medieval hall was built in the early 1300s by descendants of the Norman de Montalt family, where the now-ruined Starkie wing stands.

The house was extensively altered after its purchase by James Murgatroyd. He bought the manor and 2000 acre estate of Riddlesden from the Rishworth family in 1638 for approximately £6,000. The south end was remodelled to create the current two-storey block, and changes were made to the original medieval hall.  The Great Hall was built as a temporary weatherproof structure to link the new Murgatroyd block with the original medieval hall during the rebuilding programme.

East Riddlesden Hall is now a popular destination for day-trippers and hosts weddings and events.

Conditioning House

We can’t finish without mentioning Conditioning House, which we were lucky enough to survey in October 2019. We wrote a blog post at the time, which you can read here.

This grade II listed building has fallen into a shocking state of decay and disrepair over the last 3 decades but is now being redeveloped. It was built by the Bradford Corporation (Bradford Council) as a wool testing centre in 1902 after a special Act of Parliament. Its purpose was to quality-check and control the moisture content of textiles and certify their true weight and length. Nearly 70 per cent of all wool produced in the UK at that time was brought to Conditioning House for testing.

We have masses of experience in surveying historic and period properties and we’re the Yorkshire experts in property preservation. If you’d like to book a site visit or ask us for advice on remedial treatments for damp, timber rot or woodworm, please get in touch.