Children investigate the Bankfield Museum mystery for “The Chronicle”

Children from Rawson Junior and Infant School, Boothtown, take part in The Bankfield Chronicles at Bankfield Museum. 'From the left, Ruby Kilner, 11, Georgia Gunn, 11, Jack Cavanagh, 11, and Beatriz Surguy, 11, with costume characters Michael Magner and Hayley Hill.
Children from Rawson Junior and Infant School, Boothtown, take part in The Bankfield Chronicles at Bankfield Museum. 'From the left, Ruby Kilner, 11, Georgia Gunn, 11, Jack Cavanagh, 11, and Beatriz Surguy, 11, with costume characters Michael Magner and Hayley Hill.

Children have been travelling back in time to investigate a whodunit murder mystery at Bankfield Museum to encourage them to write their own mystery stories and have the chance to become published authors.

Since April, more than 600 pupils aged 10-13 from 20 Calderdale schools have been taking part in the Arts Council-sponsored “Bankfield Chronicles”, developed and delivered by the discovery team in Calderdale Libraries, Museums and Arts.

The project unites the schools, museums, libraries and local authors in an interactive story that the children can shape themselves.

The scene is set in 1871 and along with governess Miss Hayley Hill, and mysterious war veteran Michael Magner, groups of up to 30 pupils are thrown headlong into a whodunit adventure taking place around the museum.

By listening, reading and using their detective skills the children must unravel the clues laid down and draw their own conclusions about the terrible events at Bankfield.

Following their adventure in the past, the schools are joined by one of four local published children’s authors, who lead a session to encourage the children to write their own murder mystery stories or poems.

Work from all the schools will be included in The Bankfield Chronicles, a book to be published this summer.

“This isn’t a museum visit, or just a story writing workshop,” said author and project writer Andrew Newbound.

“This is a real life adventure that the children step into and become totally consumed by for an entire morning.”

The other authors are Fiona Cummings, John Siddique and Mark Wright.

Discover Learning manager, Lynne Hackett, said: “Learning works best when children are totally engaged in what they are doing and are eager to succeed. The whole ethos of developing this piece of work was to make learning irresistible – to have children so involved that they cannot help themselves.

“The whodunit element of the Chronicles sucks the children into an adventure. Using a real historic building and artefacts, a mixture of truth and fantasy, makes the whole premise very real – as with a book or a film, participants move between reality and the created world.

The launch of The Bankfield Chronicles book will be celebrated with a special Victorian tea party for pupils at the museum in July.