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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Speed

Bradford Industrial Museum

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

Bradford Industrial Museum is a great place to explore the history of the city and to learn more about Britain's industrial past.


Don't need accessibility info? Jump to The Visit to find out more about this wonderful museum.


Location


Moorside Mills

Moorside Road

Eccleshill

Bradford

BD2 3HP


Access


Parking is available onsite free of charge, including disabled parking bays.


The Grounds are generally accessible, though some outdoor areas are cobbled, and there are steps up to Moorside House, and steps up to the doorway viewing screens for the workers' houses. Inside the museum, you'll find the floors in good condition and relatively easy to walk on, with only one part inaccessible due to steps down. Lifts are available to access the first floor but they are old service lifts so they are not easy to access, just ask a member of staff (I found them happy to assist). Seating is available at various points around the museum.





Facilities include an area with tables and chairs for eating and drinking, no cafe is on site but there is a hot drinks machine. An accessible toilet is available.


The nearest changing places toilet is located 1.4 miles away at Eccleshill Leisure centre.


A comprehensive accessibility guide for the museum can be found at AccessAble.


The Visit


Bradford Industrial Museum is a real gem. Visitors can gain an incredible insight into the city's past and the industries associated with it, particularly the spinning industry which was the original purpose of the mill building the site occupies.


Remarkable machinery is on display, with information boards to help visitors understand what they're seeing. The smell of these machines is overpowering, making one wonder what it must have been like when the mill was operational.


It certainly would have been a sensory overload, as the noise must have been tremendous. Visitors can activate the water wheel for just fifty pence to see and hear it in action (the video below doesn't do the auditory impact justice).





The use of life-sized dummies of children operating the machinery really has an impact, reminding visitors of the harsh reality of working-class life during the nineteenth century.





Upstairs, a video plays on a loop demonstrating the different looms over the years, and it's well worth the watch.


Visitors on weekends stand a good chance of seeing a volunteer from the Bradford and District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. I met and talked with this welcoming lady who happily answered my many questions and demonstrated her spinning skills.





In addition to the spinning industry and mill history, the museum also houses a wonderful print industry exhibition and a transport section, including a fine collection of Jowett cars. The Jowett brothers were born in Bradford and used their engineering skills to invent the Jowett light car.





Don't miss the Boys and Girls entrance stones from artist David Hockney's former school. Separate entrances based on gender: a reminder of how much society has changed.





Or the Appleton collection (as in Sir Edward Victor Appleton, Nobel Prize-winning physicist).





There is also a lovely exhibition about the city, its people and its past. I loved reading memories of residents who had lived through the Suffragette movement, as well as seeing the celebration of how multicultural Bradford has been for hundreds of years.


Outside, there are wonderful examples of transport on display, as well as workers' houses to peer inside representing life in three different eras, and a blacksmith's forge. There is a very skilled blacksmith who volunteers at the museum, who, if you're lucky enough to visit on a day when he is there, will demonstrate this fine skill.


You can also visit the mill manager's house, where a costumed volunteer might be available to greet you. This is the least accessible part of the site, unfortunately, but I always think it's worth contacting the museum ahead of your visit if the house is of interest to you, as they may be able to offer something such as a volunteer talk or photos of inside. I was able to access the ground floor of the house and enjoyed the list of duties for the servants and the time capsule feel of the rooms.





Bradford Industrial Museum is one of those sites that you really can't do justice to in a blog, it's a must-visit site for anyone able to get to it if you have an interest in the industrial revolution, working-class history, transport, printing, spinning or history in general.


If you're unable to get there yourself, I hope this blog has given you an insight into some of the remarkable histories on display there.


Top Tips


  • Visit on a Saturday for the best chance of finding volunteers to talk to

  • Contact the museum in advance to find out when the blacksmith, costumed volunteer, or Bradford and District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers members are scheduled if you want to be sure of meeting them

  • Contact the museum in advance if you'd like to know more about Moorside House where the mill manager lived, to see if they can help in any way

  • Ask staff for assistance using the lifts

  • The lifts are interesting in their own right


For More on the Site


Visit the museum's website for more information and news about new exhibitions.


Visit AccessAble for more accessibility information.


To learn more about the Bradford and District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, visit their website.


Final Note


Places like this are such an important part of our nation's history: visit them and connect to the past. If we don't use them, we lose them.


Click here to find out how to use Accessing History to find your next day out.


Until then, happy travels!



*Disclaimer: This blog is written as a travel blog with a disability focus and history theme. It is intended to entertain and inform but is in no way a comprehensive guide and I do not attempt to provide a full accessibility guide for any site. Readers planning to visit any sites should check site websites or contact sites directly for up-to-date information on opening times, facilities, accessibility and other required information.





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