Twenty years ago, on Sunday, August 31, 1997, the nation woke to the shocking news that Princess Diana had been killed in a horrific car accident in Paris. Alongside a gallery of archive pictures, we take a look back at the impact the People's Princess had on Bradford and the legacy she left.

The anticipation rippling through the crowds at the Shipley Resource Centre on the morning of September 12, 1991, must have been at fever-pitch by the time the Princess of Wales arrived to take a tour of the building.

The day centre for adults with learning disabilities had long been preparing and was teeming with staff, service users, their families and volunteers, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal guest.

The visit had been postponed from an earlier date when, instead of coming to Bradford as planned, Diana rushed to tend to her eldest son, Prince William, who had been hit on the forehead by a golf club on his school putting green.

But finally the wait was over, and, as Rosie Hawley, the manager at Shipley Resource Centre in 1991 recalls, the princess did not disappoint.

"She looked round the whole of the centre and spent a lot of time with the service users," she said. "I think that was the most memorable thing, to be honest. She just had a very natural rapport with all the people who used the service.

"It was unusual for somebody to be able to walk into a situation and be totally at ease with a very large group of people. She was not going to be hurried. She gave people the time they needed to express themselves to her.

"I think her aides were getting a bit hot under the collar; they were supposed to get off to Damart, but she wasn't going to be hurried away from the service users and their families. It was a fabulous day."

She said the memories of Diana's visit, the photographs taken on the day and the stories recalled by those involved, were still treasured by people at the centre.

"I think it's fair to say that she did touch the lives of the people she met. I think her death was sad for everybody at the centre and for everybody who had ever met her," she said.

On that same day Diana also met employees at thermal underwear manufacturer Damart in Bingley - an event captured in some detail on this promotional video produced for the company.

During her time in the public eye, as the wife of the future king and latterly as Britain's Queen of Hearts', Diana had an impact on people across the district. During visits she created memories treasured by those who met her.

Her first official trip to the area was in September, 1986, when she looked round Greenfoot residential and day care centre before moving on to Castleberg Hospital for the Mentally Handicapped in Giggleswick.

In 1988, Diana visited the northern headquarters of Barnardo's in Horsforth and also met the Churches and Neighbourhood Action Project, organiser of Bradford Nightstop network.

Joanne Longden, the senior sister at Sue Ryder Care Manorlands Hospice, in Oxenhope, recalled the comfort the princess provided to patients and their families when she was shown round the building in 1989.

"She particularly stressed that she wanted to spend time talking to patients," she said. "She went round the rooms of patients who couldn't get out of bed. Those who couldn't communicate because of their illness, she just sat alongside and held their hands. They got such a sense of comfort her being there."

Memories also include the Princess' 1989 visit to Airedale General Hospital and her tour around National Breakdown in Pudsey, now known as Green Flag. But for those whose only contact with the princess was via the television and the pages of magazines and newspapers, the 20th anniversary of her death will also be a time for recollection.

Tony Cairns was Lord Mayor of Bradford at the time of Diana's death and the first of hundreds to sign his name in the city's book of condolence.

He said: "It was quite a shock - it was for everybody wasn't it? She kind of humanised the royal family while they kept her there, and something went out of the royal family when she went."

Ishtiaq Ahmed, the spokesman for Bradford's Council of Mosques, said: "Princess Diana, I think, symbolised everything that is good about humanity. She cared about the poor and for people who were ill - she represented all the right values.

"I think people were absolutely shocked and very moved by her tragic death."

  • Adapted from an article by Rebecca Wright originally published in 2007 to mark the 10th anniversary of Diana's death, with additional archive photographs curated by Odele Ayres.