WALKING around the streets of Bradford, it is hard to imagine the most brutal period in the district’s history.

Between October 1642 and March 1644, Bradford - which was then little more than a large village - saw several bloody encounters between the Royalist forces of King Charles I and those on the side of Parliament and Oliver Cromwell.

At the start of his reign King Charles I sold the manor of Bradford to the citizens of London to help pay off his huge debts. This greatly angered the local population. Voicing opposition to the king led them to fear for their lives.

A body of the king’s men was billeted in the town, attacking the townspeople and smashing up taverns and lodging houses.

Local chronicler Joseph Lister wrote: ‘Not any of us ate a morsel of bread for twenty-four hours together, and mother and child expected daily to be dashed to pieces, one against the other’.

But the people of Bradford did not take this lying down, as men, women and children took on their enemy.

In the months to come untrained men would took on the entire Royalist army in a fight to the death, leaving their own positions and striking out at the very heart of the enemy. From the church they swarmed and as they went shouted: ‘Conquer or die!’

Incredibly, the Royalists in their way were soon on the run, fleeing into the adjoining fields.

Historian and expert on the Bradford Civil war Siege, Malcolm Hanson is giving a series of talks about Bradford’s Civil War siege, beginning next Saturday.

He is bringing his in-depth knowledge to provide a captivating look at the terrifying chain of events that happened in Bradford.

“For me, the second encounter, called the Battle of the Steeple, really demonstrated the strength and fortitude of the Bradford people as they gathered to take on a fully-trained, fully-armed fighting force, twice their size, and armed with nothing more than farmyard implements and a few birding guns,” says Bradford-born Malcolm, who has written a number of books on the subject and given talks to children at primary schools across Yorkshire.

“At first it was just 300 Bradfordians, but then from the villages - particularly around the Bingley and Halifax area - came 300 clubmen. They were the equivalent of a dad’s army - except they were fully trained to kill with clubs, and they were fearless.”

Passionate about the subject, Malcolm describes it as “Bradford’s finest hour.”

“When I first read the account of the battle, written as it actually took place, I was overcome with emotion from it. I had never before read anything quite like it, and so I knew I had to tell this story. I’ve made it my mission.”

His talk on Sunday 16, at Bolling Hall, throws further light on the legendary ‘woman in white’ who is said to have appeared in the hall, before Royalist commander the Earl of Newcastle, asking him to pity the town. This encounter was the basis for the ‘Pity Poor Bradford ‘legend. He will unravel the mystery next to Newcastle's bed, in the hall's 'ghost room'.

*The free talks will be held on September 15 at 2pm at Keighley Library; Bolling Hall on September 16 at 2pm; Denholme Mechanics Institute at 3pm on September 22; Eccleshill Library on 29 at 2pm; Bolling Hall on October 14 at 2pm; Margaret Macmillan Tower at 2pm on October 20; Wibsey Library on October 22 at 2pm; Ilkley Library on October 27 at 2pm; Wyke Library on November 3 at 2pm. On October 10 at 10am a talk for children will be given at Bradford Industrial Museum

Helen Mead.