*picture credit: Anna Lewandowska (IFY community)
Bradford is a city situated in West Yorkshire, at the foot of the Pennine hills and with a population of 522,500 people. It is currently known for its multi-culturism, tourism and for once being the “wool capital of the world.” There are also many well- known landmarks and tourist attractions in Bradford.
The cathedral was built in the 14th century, after two previous churches on the site had fallen into ruin or destroyed by invading Scots. It was originally a parish church but gained cathedral status in 1919 and increased in size during the 1950s, after further work led by Sir Edward Maufe. The facilities inside were further modernised in 1987 to cope with a larger amount of visitors at the site.
Saltaire is a world heritage site and based around the model village built by Sir Titus Salt for his workers at his mill in 1851. The houses were built of stone, along with a library, church, baths and Roberts Park for its residents to enjoy. The location of the site, three miles out of the city, next to the River Aire and Leeds- Liverpool Canal meant that he could easily export his alpaca wool products plus keep his workers away from the slums of Bradford. Famously he allowed no pubs or ale shops in the village to prevent drink affecting the health of his workers.
Salt’s Mill, which spun its last wool in 1986 is now home to a series of independent shops, businesses, restaurants and the David Hockney art gallery It gained World Heritage status in 2001 and visitors can enjoy the landmarks that Salt built as well as guided walks and these days a drink at one of its now thriving pubs. Uniquely the original houses are still present along its narrow streets, named after Salt’s children and relatives. It is still a working village today and much of the property is highly sought after because of its rail links and pleasant environment.
Another of Bradford’s old mills, Moorside in Eccleshill hosts the Industrial museum, which celebrates the city’s manufacturing past. It shows how the owners and workers of the factories would have lived in different time periods. Moreover the museum has several galleries dedicated to each sector of industry in Bradford, such as spinning wool, printing and transport. The attraction also hosts exhibitions over the course of the year.
Moving into the city centre, The National Media Museum, opened in 1983, is a very popular attraction. It contains seven floors of galleries covering every aspect of the media, starting with the history of photography at the bottom, through television, the internet, cinema and animation. The museum is also interspersed with independent exhibitions and art collections, which are seasonal. The Kodak gallery opened in 1989, while the TV Heaven feature, which allows visitors to watch old episodes of their favourite programmes opened four years later. The building also houses three cinemas, the Pictureville, The Cubby Brocoli, named after the famous James Bond director and the IMAX. These form the centrepieces for both the Bradford International film and Animation festivals. Since 2010 the museum has added two new galleries, namely the Video Games Lounge and another about the history of the Internet and mobile phones.
Across the road from here stands the historic Alhambra Theatre, opened in 1914 and seats nearly 1,500 people. The venue shows a mixture of plays, ballet and a yearly pantomime. In 1986 the venue was refurbished and extended to create a larger stage and dressing room area. Moreover a smaller auditorium, The Studio Theatre was created to host more intimate events such as comedy shows. In 2012 a restaurant was opened overlooking the new Bradford City Centre Park.
Another famous entertainment venue in Bradford is The St George’s Hall. Opened in 1853 it is one of the oldest surviving concert halls in the UK and is still a major venue on the entertainment circuit. Acts such as David Bowie, Bon Jovi and Iron Maiden have played here and it continues to attract a number of top names to its programme, including Jools Holland, Mumford & Sons and Paul Weller. The venue also hosts comedy, amateur plays and a yearly pantomime.
Bradford is a very multi-cultural city and home to a high number of ethnic populations. In the 2011 census it showed that 20.4% of residents were of Pakistani origin, while nearly 25% of people were Muslims. There were also other significant South Asian and Black communities recorded in the census.
Bradford is therefore a city of many different religions. It currently has 83 mosques and is also home to the Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple, opened in 2008 and the largest of its kind in Northern England. Moreover religious festivals are celebrated, such as Diwali and Eid, with lights in the city centre.
The Bollywood film industry has flourished here since the 1960s with some of their films screened alongside their Hollywood counterparts in the city’s commercial cinemas. The year 2013 saw Bradford celebrate 100 years of Indian Cinema, with events around the city culminating in a live televised Bollywood influenced performance of the musical Carmen in the City Centre Park. There were also exhibitions of Bollywood film posters in museums and galleries around the city.
Each year Bradford holds a festival in the city centre park which aims to bring together all the communities of Bradford. There are international stalls, music, and food from all sections of the city’s society, culminating in a “mela” day or coming together, which features a programme of multi-cultural music, performance and dance.
Bradford has many South Asian restaurants and hosts the world curry festival in the city centre park, with exhibitors making dishes from right around the world. Moreover, Bradford has also been voted curry capital of Britain for three years in a row, from 2011-2013, beating off twenty-one other cities, including nearest rivals, Glasgow for the coveted title.
Bradford is well connected to other towns and cities in Yorkshire, thanks to the building of the M62 in the Seventies and the construction of the A6120/6110 Leeds ring roads, which connect these two cities together at the Dawson’s Corner road junction near Pudsey. One of the most interesting features of Bradford’s road network is the M606, purpose built as a route into the city from Junction 26 of the M62. It was opened in 1973 and ends very abruptly at the raised Staithgate roundabout. Originally the road was supposed to go underneath this junction and end in the city centre, but this never happened. In 2007 the motorway became the first to have a car-sharing lane in the country, which enabled vehicles with more than one person in the car to use it as a fast track onto the M62. North Bradford is well connected to Harrogate, Keighley and Skipton by the A658 and A650 respectively.
Surprisingly for a city of its size it is served by two railway stations, Bradford Forster Square and Bradford Interchange and several others have existed beforehand, since demolished. Forster Square station was originally built in 1906 but was truncated in 1990, meaning it was demolished and re-built slightly further along the line. It carries passengers to local places such as Leeds, Skipton and Ilkley.
Bradford Interchange is a combined bus and train station and much newer, opening in 1971 after being re-sited south from the original Bradford Exchange, built in 1850. The station is on the Calderdale Line and runs services much further afield to London Kings Cross, Blackpool North and Manchester. Under the government’s northern hub project extra services to Liverpool Lime Street, Chester and Manchester Airport have been announced.
Although it is only a ten- minutes’ walk from the Interchange to Forster Square they are not linked by rail, although a freecity bus service runs between the two. However unlike some other Yorkshire towns, notably Huddersfield and Leeds the bus and train stations are combined at the Interchange, meaning a higher flexibility of transport out of the city for passengers.
Some bus services run to local destinations and suburbs of the city, while others such as the National express coaches go nationwide and Bharat buses take passengers to destinations such as Derby, Leicester and Slough. FreeCity buses run to the city’s university and college as well as Forster Square station.
Bradford University is an old institution which was founded in 1832 as a Mechanics Institute and then re-named Bradford Technical College 50 years later. In 1966 it was given a royal charter and became the UK’s 40th university. The institution has built up a reputation for its research in Peace and Conflict, establishing the first course in the country to study this area in 1973. In the 21st century the university has enjoyed radical transformation and in 2006 became the world’s first “ecoversity,” which means it significantly reduces its carbon footprint. “The Green” student village was opened in 2011, while the university has upgraded its sports facilities, library and laboratories to name but a few. In 1979 the institution won University Challenge by beating Lancaster University in the final.
Bradford College is another higher education institution, which offers a variety of courses and degrees, validated by the University of Teeside. Former alumni include artist, David Hockney and singer, Tasmin Archer.
Bradford Grammar School was founded in 1532 and is based in the suburb of Frizinghall. It was rebuilt just before World War II and currently has over 1,000 pupils in its junior and senior school.
Not far from the Grammar school, lies Valley Parade, the home of Bradford City F.C., nicknamed The Bantams. The club was formed in 1903 and were the result of Manningham RLFC changing both its code and name. Famously the newly-formed Bradford City was admitted to the football league without ever playing a game. On May 11th 1985, one of the stands at Valley Parade set alight during the final home game of the season, killing 56 people. A memorial service is held every year for the victims at the cathedral. In 1999 they won promotion to the Premier League for two seasons, before financial meltdown meant several relegations to League 2. In 2013 they became the first club from the fourth tier of English football to play in a Wembley Cup final when they lost to Swansea City in the League Cup final.
Rugby league also plays an important part in the city’s history in the shape of The Bradford Bulls, who currently play at the Odsal stadium. Originally named Bradford Northern it was formed in 1907 after splitting with local football outfit, Bradford Park Avenue.
The city centre is served by two other major shopping centres, Kirkgate, opened in the 1960s, housing 65 shops while the Forster Square shopping Park opened its doors in 1995 and features 20 stores.
Little Germany, just outside the city centre was established by German Jewish settlers in the 19th century, who constructed large warehouses in the area to store and export their goods. It is now a commercial hub of Bradford, with 110 businesses using its re-developed buildings employing approx. 3,000 workers.
The centre of Bradford has undergone a major transformation since 2003 and is one of the few Yorkshire cities to have its own dedicated “city centre park.” The six acre site near the Town Hall features the newly created Centenary Square and mirror pool, featuring 100 fountains, the middle one being the tallest in any UK city. In summer visitors can paddle in the water and when the pool is drained can hold large public events, such as The Bradford Festival and stage performances. The area officially opened in 2012. Moreover at the time of writing the much-delayed Westfield shopping complex has resumed construction and will be completed in 2015, holding 70 shop units.
There is a lot to enjoy about Bradford, especially its fantastic mix of cultures and innovative city park that make it one of the most multi-cultural and diverse places in Yorkshire.
The name Bradford derives from the old English for “Broad ford,” which refers to Bradford beck, situated below the site of Bradford Cathedral. It was listed as Bradeford in the Doomsday book of 1086, although at this time much of the area was laid to waste by William The Conqueror’s harrying of the north, a revenge attack on Northern uprisings against Norman rule. By the Middle Ages Bradford was a very small town of a few streets, Kirkgate, Westgate and Ivegate, but slowly grew due to the birth of the woollen trade in the 18th Century, mainly at this stage in local cottages and farms. Strangely by 1801, with a population of just 6,393 people, Bradford was smaller in size than neighbouring Keighley, Halifax and Huddersfield. The villages of Manningham and Great Horton were still separated from the town by countryside.
The Industrial Revolution however increased the population and size of Bradford dramatically. Its sandstone rock was ideal for building the woollen mills, which still stand to this day, while the soft water of the Aire Valley was ideal for cleaning raw wool, ready to be spun. By 1850 the town’s population had increased to 182,000 and the transportation developments that followed, including railway lines and canals to export its products made it into the wool capital of the world.
During this period of massive economic change came its first associations with immigration. Irish workers travelled across the sea and formed the largest Gaelic community in Yorkshire, while German Jewish merchants came to manufacture and export their goods created in the city, mostly around Little Germany and Manningham, bringing with them the city’s first synagogues. In 1893 the Independent Labour Party were formed in the city and are still an influence within the British Socialist movement to this day. A mural in commemoration of this can be found at The Bradford Playhouse.
Around about the same time an egg and butter merchant named William Morrison set up a provisions company. His son, Ken would go on to establish the city’s first self-service store and then one of the largest supermarket chains in the country. Its headquarters remain in Bradford to this day.
After the Second World War immigrants from Commonwealth countries came to Bradford to take jobs in its textile mills, due to a national labour shortage. Many settled in the Manningham area of the city near Lister mills, then one of the city’s largest employers.
The decline of the textile industry throughout the late 20th Century, caused by competition from other countries and changes in fashion to more synthetic materials, rather than wool, led to high unemployment and general dis-enchantment amongst all of its communities.
In 2001 Bradford hit the national headlines after riots between white and Asian youths in the streets of Manningham and other areas. This prompted a people’s plan to be created as part of an effort to bring the different ethnic communities of the city together.
The creation of the city park, which everyone can benefit from, plus the promotion of events such as melas have increased community cohesion and helped create a brighter future for the city.
If you ask the people of Bradford they may tell you they live in The West Riding of Yorkshire , which they did until the local government re-organisation in 1974. They now live in West Yorkshire.
People first started settling in Bradford in Saxon times , it was then known as ‘Broad Ford’
In the Middle Ages Bradford had become a small town centred on ‘the gates.’ Kirkgate, Westgate and Ivegate.
In 1070 Bradford was ‘laid waste’ by William the Conqueror during the ‘Harrowing of the North.’ This was a reprisal for an uprising against Norman rule.
Bradford gained City status in 1897
In 1911 Bradford City won the FA Cup for the only time in their history. A Jimmy Speirs goal in the 15th minute was enough to win the replay against Newcastle United.
Bradford grew enormously in the 19th Century when it became ‘Wool Capital of the World.’
Although the textile industry in Bradford fell into decline during the 20th Century Bradford has become a popular tourist destination. Bradford became the first UNESCO City of Film and is the location for The National Media Museum. Other tourist attractions included Bradford City Park and the Alhambra Theatre.
In July 1916 2,000 men from, The Bradford Pals, the 16th and 18th Battalions of The Prince of Wales and The Bradford and District regiments, advanced across No Man’s land towards the village of Serre. 1,770 of these med died on the battlefield.
In March, each year, The National Media museum hosts the Bradford International Film Festival.
Bradford was crowned once more ‘Curry Capital of Britain.’ It has many famous curry houses such as Prashad’s, Akbar’s, Mumtaz and ZOUK.
Bradford Bulls Rugby League Club play in The Super League. They have won the World Club Championship three times since 2002