A UNIQUE Bradford attraction celebrated its centenary as a museum with the help of Vikings, knights and historical figures from the First World War era.

Bolling Hall is Bradford's oldest surviving public building, dating back to 1370, and in 1915 it was opened to the people of Bradford as a museum and visitor attraction.

To mark 100 years as a museum, the hall held a celebration event yesterday featuring historical reenactments from periods throughout history on the grounds of the site. Inside the museum, staff took on the roles of characters who were involved in the building in 1915, guiding hundreds of visitors through the hall's grand rooms, including its infamous Ghost Room.

The hall, which has strong links with the civil war, was bought by Bradford Corporation in 1912 with a view to eventually restoring it and making it a museum. The plans were brought forward when the country became involved with World War One, and it opened in 1915 as a way of lifting the spirits of Bradfordians and providing some good news in the light of the horrific news they read about on a daily basis.

It has remained a free museum ever since, mixing traditional exhibits with National Trust style recreations of certain rooms, and is now home to a council run library.


During yesterday's celebration, which attracted crowds of families to the museum throughout the day, there were archery and gunnery demonstrations, infantry drill sessions run by medieval knights and talks from historic figures.

There was also a fun fair on the museum car park provided by the Marshall family, descendants of the last tenants of the hall before it became a museum.

Liz McIvor, Curator of Social History and Technology at Bradford Council, was one of the staff to take on a persona of someone from 1915, and said: "It has been a really busy day. There is a bit of a mix, outside we have reenactments from various periods in history and inside we have people dressed up from when the museum first opened. The staff are playing parts of real people and are talking about their real lives from 1915.

"We try and do reenactments here whenever we can, people really enjoy coming and seeing something they can't see every day."