FROM October 1642 to March 1644, Bradford, then little more than a large village, saw several bloody encounters between the Royalist forces of King Charles I and the Parliamentarians.

Hundreds were killed and wounded, but a rabble army of Bradfordians stared death in the face and took on, and beat, the King's soldiers. Now we can visit the places where Bradford made its stand, via a Civil War Siege trail.

It has been set up by historian Malcolm Hanson, who has created more than 100 heritage trails for Bradford schools. He has long been trying to get a Civil War walk off the ground.

"Finally, I got the powers-that-be to recognise my siege trail, thanks to Diana Greenwood, Senior Tourism Development Officer at Visit Bradford, who scrutinised everything I’d done and saw the potential in it," says Malcolm.

A pamphlet was published this week and an official launch of the trail is planned for later this summer. "Apart from inaugural guided walks, we intend to have City Hall, Bradford Cathedral and Bolling Hall featured," says Malcolm. "It will be the first celebration, in living memory, of our ancestors' stand against a hostile king."

He adds: "A few years ago when I was creating heritage walks for schools, I noticed that whenever I was researching Bradford something would come up about the Civil War siege. I needed to know more, but it was like a jigsaw puzzle; there were lots of books, but all with different takes on what happened. In the end I managed to build up the story which accompanies the trail."

It's the story of how Bradford people, armed with farmyard equipment and rudimentary guns, took on the King's armed soldiers. "It was a hard task getting anyone to listen, and with the cuts there was little chance of financing anything. As each year went by, the hope of ever getting this story out there diminished," says Malcolm. "With my 65th birthday looming this month, I made it a 'bucket-list' wish to give it one more go."

In the pamphlet, Malcolm writes of the Battle of the Steeple, December 18, 1642: "Newcastle’s army was over a thousand strong, bolstered by horse troops, dragoons, foot soldiers, pioneers and artillery, and when hostilities began they captured houses close to the church. As cannon bombarded the church tower, it became obvious the enemy could not be repelled. The solution was extreme: Bradford’s “rabble” army of just 300 would leave their positions to strike at the very heart of the enemy. Swarming from the church and shouting: ‘Conquer or die!’ they rammed their way into the Royalists, causing total disarray."

The Royalist dead and injured included 200 soldiers; captured were 26 soldiers, 100 horses, 180 weight of powder, and 40 muskets. Bradford suffered only two deaths and 12 casualties. No man was captured, nor even a single bullet lost to the enemy. It had been Bradford’s finest hour."