AN early Suffragette who worked with Emmeline Pankurst and a man who painted the tower and spire of Bradford's City Hall are among those highlighted in a film celebrating unsung stories of people of the district.

The film is part of a Bradford archive of family stories collected during lockdown.

It was the brainchild of New Focus - the young people's collective at Bradford's Impressions Gallery - which put a call-out for family stories back in May.

Now the collective has amassed more than 60 photographs, some of which appear in a short film being revealed this week.

The Bradford Family Archive film will be launched on Friday July 31 on YouTube from 4.30pm-5.15pm, with a live premiere and Zoom party.

Family portrait of Zafar Kayani’s father, his brother and himself on the right

Bradford Suffragette Lilian Armitage

“Due to lockdown, staying connected with families has proven difficult. To help bring people together, we created the Bradford Family Archive. We invited people to share photographs and stories with us on Facebook and Instagram," says Sara Aherne of New Focus. "The project gave young people a reason to pick up the phone to a loved one and start a conversation about their family history."

The creative journey has unveiled many unsung local heroes - not least Lilian Armitage, the first secretary of the Women’s Social and Political Union in Bradford who worked with the Pankhursts. She marched with them to Parliament in 1906 to support votes for women and was arrested due to an altercation with a policeman.

Lilian Armitage represents "the resilience and determination of Bradford"; breaking down barriers and refusing to back down from a challenge. Her inspiring story has led Bradford Council to name a street after her.

The film reveals journeys to Bradford, with contributions from members of Community Works’ Nani Ji group (a social group for older Asian women) who have shared objects they brought to the city to remind them of their homes in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Among the stories highlighted in the short film are those of Robert Clegg and Sarah Jane Horn.

Imogen Sullivan of Beckfoot Thornton School shared photographs of her great grandad Robert Clegg who, as the foreman painter and decorator for Bradford Town Hall, was contracted to paint the spire and do the paintwork on the tower of the spectacular building. The film shares photographs of him painting the tower in 1958.

And Robert Hoyle shared the story of his great great grandma, Sarah Jane Horn, who, on the occasion of the first local elections after the Second World War in about 1946, was the oldest person to vote in Eccleshill - and had her photo taken by the Telegraph & Argus.

Robert Hoyle’s great-great grandmother, Sarah Jane Horn

Asiya Hussain, New Focus Assistant, says: “During these difficult times, we have been able to bring people together through photography, video chats and personal stories shared on different platforms.

"We've received numerous submissions and the stories have been incredible, along with the photographs sent in online. They truly represent the diversity and culture of Bradford.

"Overall we've collected over 60 photos and some date back to the early 1900s. We have learned so much more about the diversity and resilience of Bradford and we’ve been able to unveil so many hidden gems about the city’s history and of the people.”

The project has been funded by Bradford Council’s Response grant, helping individuals, groups and communities to be creative and connect digitally during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, and supported by Arts Council England

* Impressions Gallery, at City Park in Bradford, will re-open to the public on Wednesday, September 2.

For more about the film screening go to impressions-gallery. com/event/film-premiere-bradford-familyarchive/