Knowing Bradford: How can buildings tell a story?

This resource uses the historic built environment to demonstrate how pupils can learn about the social, economic, cultural and political history of their town through the exploration of its buildings.

Six buildings in Bradford have been selected, each of which has a story to tell and collectively they cover different aspects of Bradford’s past.

The story of each building is told through the eyes of people associated with that building and produced in a script.

Follow up activities enable pupils to explore the significance of these places to their own heritage, Bradford and beyond. The activities involved are all cross curricular and use a range of media such as drama, literacy, art, historical enquiry and presentations.

The resource, whilst set in Bradford, is an approach which could be adapted to any town.


Teaching idea

How can buildings tell a story?

The script is designed to be interactive with accompanying questions and activities which enable students to perform it themselves, or to use it as a template to create their own versions.

Teachers can use the activities to further explore Bradford’s history. The activities are linked to scenes in the script and can be mixed and matched according to time, ability and numbers. They cover a range of topics. Exploration and investigation are through visits to buildings/locations, games, research, discussions and hands-on creative/arts-based activities.

Activities have been divided into subject areas, although most are related to more than one curriculum area, e.g. historical research includes reading and concentration skills and may lead to writing, art, design activities, etc. Maths is integral to many of the activities.

Each scene could be performed individually by students to recap knowledge before choosing follow-up activities related to those scenes.

Students could use the information gained from activities to develop and present their own script. This could be done in pairs; small groups; or individually using a speech, poem, short story, etc., created through these discovery activities.

Students could watch this short film of Irene Lofthouse acting out the section of the script based on the Midland Hotel for inspiration’

Learning aims and outcomes

  • To know more about the built environment and how it relates to the heritage and story of a place.
  • To raise awareness of Bradford’s industrial and cultural heritage.
  • To investigate why key historical sites in a local area are important.
  • To encourage the use of local maps, plans and historical evidence to find out about an area in the past.
  • To create opportunities for cross curricular thinking and learning relating to the local built environment.
  • To think about, describe and explain how we can care about historic sites in our local area and can continue to use them in the future.

Prior knowledge

  • An awareness of the role of ‘place’ in our lives.
  • A geographical understanding of Bradford in the local, regional and national context.

Extended learning and useful links