A SERIES of creative writing workshops are being held in Undercliffe Cemetery, using the historic site as inspiration.

Bradford writer, actor and storyteller Irene Lofthouse is facilitating nine writing workshops, Stories from Stone, at the renowned Victorian cemetery, starting this month.

The workshops are aimed at beginners as well as those with experience of creative writing, and will use the environs to “explore, experiment, stimulate and shape stories hidden in the stone, sculptures and statutory, as well as the flora and fauna”.

“It’s a fascinating location, atmospheric and full of surprises,” says Irene. “I used to wander through it when I was at Undercliffe Middle School and wonder who the people were, what their lives were like, what the sculptures meant and if any of the statues came alive at night.

“In fact, one if the time-shifting stories in my book Strange Tales in Bradford Dale is inspired by the sphinxes at the cemetery. There’s a story in every footstep you take - writers will have lots of ideas to choose from.

Undercliffe Cemetery is Grade II listed and contains a variety of Victorian graves and monuments and a number of prominent Bradfordians are buried there, including mill-owners and civic leaders. Scenes for many films and TV dramas have been shot there, from Billy Liar to Peaky Blinders.

The writing workshops will run on Mondays, 10am until 12noon, at the Cemetery Lodge. They will explore form and styles, from flash fiction to short stories, scripts and poetry. Participants will have time to write and share pieces in progress.

“I’d really like to have more men at the workshops,” says Irene. “It’s odd that there are many men writing, but courses and workshops have so few men on them.

“One aim is to create an anthology by the end of the course, giving writers the opportunity of having their work published. The Cemetery Committee is supporting a launch event of the anthology in May, 2018 where writers can perform pieces inspired by this unique location.”

Author of the Strange Tales children’s short story collection, Irene is also a Writer in Residence with First Story at Risedale Community College in Catterick, Storymaker with Historic England on its From Bradford with Love project, involving schools in the city, and is currently touring her one-woman show, Words, Women and War: Forgotten Female Voices of The Great War. Her stories, scripts, poems and articles have featured in magazines, anthologies; theatres, museums, on heritage buildings, even canal gates. Irene has performed at Edinburgh Fringe and appeared on TV, radio and in films.

* Stories in Stone takes place on January 15 and 22, February 12 and 26, March 5 and 19, April 9 and 23, and May 14 for a performance rehearsal. The cost is £120. Places are limited, booking and advance payment is essential. The venue is accessible and there is off-road parking. Email irenelofthousewriter@gmail.com