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We love a cheap and frugal day out, don’t you? So maybe you have a lovely trip away booked. Or maybe you just want a few ideas of where to get out and about near you? What do you do if money is tight? Well, here are some free things to do in Bradford.
Free Things To Do In Bradford
We are very lucky that although we live in Leeds, we are practically on the Bradford border, and with some brilliant rail and bus links we can be in the centre of Bradford within an hour. Whether you are after history, art, education or just good old fresh air, there is something for everyone.
National Science and Media Museum
Situated right in the centre of Bradford is the National Science and Media Museum. This museum is devoted to the fascinating history and technology behind TV, film and video games. From the basics of how lenses work to displays of old sets and favourites from the past, there is something here for all the family. Here are Zippy and George, characters from the popular 70s children’s TV programme “Rainbow”.
And if you fancy spending a few more pounds, you can see one of the films on the IMAX screen.
Enjoy interactive Museums? See our review of Eureka! The Children’s Museum in nearby Halifax.
Lister Park And Cartwright Hall
Just outside of the town centre in Manningham, stands one of the largest green parks in West Yorkshire. Lister Park. Once the estate of a wealthy mill owner, Samuel Lister, it is now the home to a wealth of events held throughout the year.
The park has a wealth of landscapes and areas of greenery to discover. But it also encompasses Bradford Civic Art Gallery in Cartwright Hall. Here are Bradford’s art collections, and admission is free.
There is a boating lake with pedals and rowing boats, a bandstand that hosts many concerts throughout the season, and a cafe.
There are ball courts, tennis courts, bowling greens and a large children’s play area.
Saltaire, Salt’s Mill and Roberts Park
Saltaire is a Victorian Village, built by Titus Salt in the 1850s to house his workers. On the banks of the Aire river and the canal is this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site. Salt built small but clean houses for his workers instead of them having to live in the slums of central Bradford. He provided a library, schools, concert halls, churches, parks and bath houses. This wonderful little village is still a great place to visit, with lots of history, and lots of regular events.
But dominating the area is Salt’s mill. This large Victorian Mill building is now home to galleries, shops, a bookshop and a restaurant/cafe. A lot of the galleries and artworks feature the work of David Hockney, who was born just down the road.
The canal and river are a lovely place to stop and sit, and just over the water is Roberts Park. On the death of Titus Salt’s son, the village was run by a cooperative, one of which was Sir James Roberts. On his death his son gave the parkland to Bradford council. It now is home to a lovely sandy adventure playground, a cricket ground, and some great gardens.
For a few pounds, you can also take a short walk over the road behind Roberts Park, where you will find the Shipley Glen Tramway. This 1895 tramway runs up a steep hill through woodlands. At the top you can walk on up to Shipley Glen.
And walk further down this canal and you will eventually reach Leeds. Learn more about this historic canal.
A little further afield in Keighley, Cliffe Castle was once the home of the textile manufacturer Henry Isaac Butterfield. As his shipping business took his goods to Europe, America and the Far East, the Butterfields traveled widely and collected a lot of treasures for their stately home. The Butterfield family had connections with Napoleon’s descendants and the Roosevelt’s in America.
The house was built in the 1880s, but in the 1950s the house was bought by Sir Bracewell Smith. He remodelled the house to become a free museum. Not only are there several rooms dedicated to how the Butterfield Family would have lived, there are galleries of art, local history, natural history, and a wonderful collection of William Morris stained glass.
Cliffe Castle also boasts a fabulous park and estate. There are lots of ornamental garden features, and a brilliant play area for children. It is a perfect place to spend a day.
Other exciting attractions in the area that aren’t free? If you love history, whilst you are in Keighley why not visit East Riddlesden Hall? This is a National Trust Property, an interesting 17th Century manor house. Historic and picturesque, it is a lovely place to spend the afternoon with a wonderful adventure playground and large duckpond. Or take a trip up to Howarth on the Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway, which makes regular trips from near the main railway station in Keighley itself.
Just about a mile to the south of Bradford centre is the quiet suburb of Bowling. However, on a quiet road is a small 14th century building that has played an important part in the history of the region. Passed between the Polling and the Tempest families, this house has seen action as a Royalist base during the English Civil War.
A small house, it has many nooks and crannies to explore, and even has a tower. It is a little gem hidden away, but well worth a visit.
Bradford Industrial Museum
Finally the last on my list of my free things to do in Bradford is a visit to Bradford Industrial Museum. Bradford was built upon the wealth of the wool and cloth industries, as you can see from a lot of the free attractions being bequeathed by old mill owners! So it is not surprising to find that the industrial museum has a large section about how the mills were operated. There are rooms where original machinery can still be seen in action. Experience how loud the machinery was, and why people developed a lip reading ability over the noise of the looms.
Also there is a reconstructed set of terrace houses that take you back to several times in history from the First World War to the 60s.
And there is a large display of vintage vehicles, including Scott and Jowett cars and vans that were made locally. Here is a rare Scotts Sociable 3-wheeler car.
So whether the weather be good or bad, there are plenty of free things to do in Bradford. I hope that one of these appeals to you.
Fancy some other free places to visit in West Yorkshire? Why not see my post on Free Things To Do In Leeds?
Or slightly further afield see some Free Things To Do In York.
Have you visited any of these? What did you think? Have I missed any places that you love? Why not comment, or find me on social media?
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