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Platinum record: Bradford Museums and Galleries’ Jubilee displays

To celebrate the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, Bradford District Museums and Galleries have put together four displays across their sites using objects in their collection and photos from Bradford District Photo Archive. Photo Archivist John Ashton and Assistant Curator of Collections Dr Lauren Padgett have put together an online version of some aspects of the displays.

In 2022, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her platinum jubilee, having reigned for 70 years. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning and longest lived monarch in Britain’s history. To celebrate this historic milestone, a bank holiday from the 2nd to 5th of June 2022 was declared for four days of public events and community activities. 

To celebrate the platinum jubilee, Bradford District Museums and Galleries have jubilee displays across their sites using collection objects and photographs. At Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, find out about the televised coronation. Discover nursery rhymes with royal connections at Bolling Hall Museum. At Cliffe Castle Museum and Bradford Industrial Museum, learn about Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and royal visits to Bradford District, and see a range of coronation souvenirs, from tins to tea towels and table cloths, mugs to magazines, a jigsaw puzzle to pencils.

Coronation Collecting

Here are some examples of objects in our collection relating to the coronation and royal visits with links to the Bradford District:

Visitor Book

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, visited Bradford in 1954. They went to Perseverance Mills at Dudley Hill to meet employees of J. Cawthra & Company Limited, a worsted textiles manufacturer. Her Majesty and his Royal Highness signed a specially-made visitor book to commemorate the visit. 

Certificate and Invitation

This certificate was presented by the Yorkshire Observer, in celebration of the coronation year, to Miss M. B. Williams for her 40 years’ service as an employee of John Priestman and Co. Ltd, a Bradford worsted spinning and manufacturing company. Miss Williams was also invited to a presentation lunch in the canteen on the 3rd of July 1953.

Keighley Coronation Programme

This is the official programme for the coronation celebrations that took place in Keighley in 1953. It details the different events that took place, such as processions and performances. 

Oil painting

On display at Cliffe Castle Museum is this oil painting by William D. Dring shows ‘Princess Elizabeth Receiving the Freedom of the City of London from the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Bracewell Smith’ on the 11th of June 1947.

Bracewell Smith was born in Keighley in 1884. After attending Wesley Place Primary School in Keighley, he became a pupil teacher before attending Leeds University. Smith went into the property business, owning and having shares in London hotels. He entered politics in 1922, becoming Sheriff of the City of London in 1943, then Lord Mayor of London in 1946. He presented the freedom of the City of London to Princess Elizabeth in 1947. In February 1952, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II when her father, King George VI, died. Her official coronation took place on the 2nd of June 1953.

In 1950, Bracewell Smith bought the Cliffe Castle estate for Keighley Corporation for the sum of £18,000. The grounds were opened up as a public park but the house, in a state of disrepair and suffering from dry-rot, needed extensive work. Bracewell Smith donated £50,000 for the renovation costs in 1955. The building opened as Cliffe Castle Museum on the 14th of April 1959 ‘for use as a museum and art gallery to be enjoyed in perpetuity by the citizens of his native town’. He died in 1966.  The octagonal hall within Cliffe Castle Museum is named the Bracewell Smith Hall in his honour.

Royal Visits to the Bradford District

Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal family have visited the Bradford District. On Thursday 28th October 28 1954, nearly 18 months after her Coronation at Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth II made visit to Bradford with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. Among the people in town that Thursday was 17-year-old David Hockney. In 1954 he was in his second year at Bradford Art College.


Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal family have visited the Bradford District. On Thursday 28th October 1954, Queen Elizabeth II made a royal visit to Bradford with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. Amongst the people in Bradford to catch a glimpse of the Queen that day was 17-year-old David Hockney, in his second year at Bradford Art College. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Bradford (Park Avenue) cricket ground where they heard 30,000 school children sing. They then visited Perseverance Mills, Dudley Hill, where several hundred millworkers welcomed them. This visit was part of a nationwide tour, followed by state visits lasting nearly six months to 11 Empire and Commonwealth countries.

In 1974, Queen Elizabeth II came to Bradford again to unveil a plaque to open the new Civic Precinct and visit the Odeon cinema, greeting well-wishers outside City Hall. Queen Elizabeth II returned in 1997 when Bradford was celebrating the centenary of receiving a Royal Charter to become a city. During this visit she unveiled a plaque in the new Centenary Square and visited Valley Parade football stadium. There was another visit in 2007 and one in 2012 as part of her diamond jubilee tour when she visited Saltaire.

Here is a sneaky peek at some of the photographs in Bradford District Photo Archive which illustrate the jubilee displays. There are two collections relating to Queen Elizabeth II. The C H Wood collection has photos of places in Bradford decorated for local coronation celebrations in 1953, while the newly-acquired Barrie Rawlinson collection has photographs of Queen Elizabeth II during her visits to Bradford in 1954 and 1974.

To see more information, photographs and objects relating to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and royal visit, please visit the jubilee displays across our sites. Information about the displays can be found on our What’s On page: https://bradfordmusgal.wpengine.com/whats-on/

To see more photographs from the Bradford District Museums’ Photo Archive, visit: https://photos.bradfordmuseums.org/.

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