“Bradford is a crackin’ city filled with crackin’ people.”
Bradford is a city in West Yorkshire with a population of over 530,000 people. Situated at the foot of the Pennine Hills, it is currently known for its multiculturalism, tourism, and being the wool capital of the world. Bradford also has many well-known landmarks and tourist attractions.
Bradford Cathedral was built in the 14th century. Before the cathedral, there were two churches that had previously
been built on the same site. One had fallen into ruin and the other was destroyed by invading Scots.
Originally a parish church, it was given the cathedral status in 1919. Then, during the 1950’s, it increased in size after work was carried out by Sir Edward Maufe. The facilities inside the cathedral were further modernised in 1987 in order to cope with the large number of visitors.
Saltaire is a well known world heritage site. It’s based around the model village built by Sir Titus Salt specifically for his employees who worked at his mill in 1851.
The houses built within Saltaire were made from stone. Salt wanted to provide for his employees and decided to also build a library, church, baths, and Roberts Park for its residents to enjoy.
Located three miles out of the city, the village was next to the River Aire and Leeds Liverpool Canal. This 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. He didn’t want alcohol affecting the health of his workers.
Mills in Bradford
It gained its World Heritage Status in 2001. Visitors can enjoy the landmarks that Salt built as well as guided walks. These days, visitors can also have a drink in one of its now thriving pubs.
Uniquely, the original houses are still present along its narrow streets. Each street is named after Salt’s children and relatives.
Salt’s Mill is still a working village today. Much of the property is highly sought after because of its rail links and pleasant environment.
Another of Bradford’s old mills is Moorside in Eccleshill. It’s now home to the Industrial Museum.
Museums in Bradford
What was once Moorside in Eccleshill is now Bradford Industrial Museum. It celebrates the city’s manufacturing past and hosts exhibitions over the course of the year.
People visiting the museum will learn about how the owners and workers of the factories would have lived in different time periods. The museum also has several galleries dedicated to each escort of industry in Bradford such as spinning wool, printing, and transport.
In 1983, the National Media Museum opened in the city centre. It’s a popular attraction that contains seven floors. They
cover every aspect of media starting with the history of photography, then moving on to television, the internet, cinema, and animation. You’ll also find seasonal independent exhibitions and art collections.
The Kodak gallery opened in 1989. Four years earlier, the TV Heaven feature opened allowing visitors to watch old episodes of their favourite programmes.
The building is also home to three cinemas called Pictureville, The Cubby Broccoli, – which was named after the famous James Bond director – and IMAX. These are the centrepieces for the Bradford International film and Animation festivals.
Since 2010, the museum has added two new galleries. One being the Video Games Lounge and the other which focuses on the history of the internet and mobile phones.
Theatres and Venues in Bradford
Across the road stands the historic Alhambra Theatre which opened in 1914. The venue seats nearly 1,500 people and 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.
Adjacent to the Alhambra Theatre Main House is The Studio Theatre. It has 200 seats and hosts more intimate events such as comedy shows and can be hired out for workshops, meetings and exhibitions.
Another famous entertainment venue in Bradford is St George’s Hall. It opened in 1853 and is one of the oldest surviving concert halls in the UK. To this day it is still a major venue for hosting entertaining shows.
Acts such as David Bowie, Bon Jovi, and Iron Maiden have played here. The venue continues to attract a number of top names including Jools Holland, Paul Weller and Mumford & Sons. Similar to the Alhambra Theatre, it also hosts comedy and amateur plays as well as a yearly pantomime.
Religion in Bradford
Bradford is a multicultural city and welcomes ethnic populations. In the 2011 census, it showed that 26.8% of people were Asian / Asian British, 1.8% were Black / Black British and 0.7% were Arab.
It’s a city that is also home to many different religions. According to the 2011 census, the top three main religions were Christianity at 45.9%, Muslim at 24.7%, and Sikh at 1%. Just over 20% were atheist.
Bradford is home to the impressive Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple. The temple opened in 2008 and is the largest of its kind in Northern England.
Many religious festivals are celebrated in Bradford. Diwali and Eid are just a few of the celebratory festivals that take place in the city centre.
Culture in Bradford
The Bollywood film industry has flourished in Bradford since the 1960’s. It’s done so well that some of the films screened alongside their Hollywood counterparts in the city’s commercial cinemas.
In 2013, Bradford celebrated 100 years of Indian Cinema. Events were held around the city culminating in a live
televised Bollywood influenced performance of the musical Carmen in the city centre park.
Exhibitions also took place around Bradford. Bollywood film posters in museums and galleries could be found around the city.
Each year, Bradford holds a festival in the city centre park. It’s main aim is to bring people from different communities in Bradford together.
At the festival, you’ll find international stalls, music, and food. This creates a “mela” day or coming together which features a programme of multicultural music, performance, and dance.
Food in Bradford
Bradford has many South Asian restaurants that you can enjoy. These include Akbar’s, Mumtaz, The 3 Singhs, and The Kashmir to name a few.
Each year, Bradford hosts the world curry festival in the city centre park. Chefs and exhibitors can be seen making dishes from all over the world.
Bradford has also been voted curry capital of Britain several years in a row. It beat twenty-one other cities for the coveted title including their nearest rivals, Glasgow.
Travelling in and out of Bradford
Bradford is a well connected town and has easy access to other towns and cities in Yorkshire. The building of the M62 in the 1970’s and the construction of the A6120/6110 Leeds ring roads connect the 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. It is a purpose built route into the city from Junction 26 of the M62.
The M606 opened in 1973 and ends abruptly at the raised Staithgate roundabout. Originally, the road was supposed to go underneath the 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. This enabled vehicles with more than one person in the car to use it as a fast track onto the M62.
The north of Bradford is also connected through the A658 and the A650. It makes it easy for people to access Harrogate, Keighley and Skipton.
Transportation in Bradford
Surprisingly for the city of its size, it has two railway stations. These are Bradford Forster Square and Bradford Interchange. In the past, other stations existed but have since been demolished.
Forster Square station was originally built in 1906. However, in 1990 it was demolished and rebuilt slightly further along the line. It currently carries passengers to local areas such as Leeds, Skipton, and Ilkley
In 1971, Bradford Interchange was built and is a combined bus and train station. The original was called Bradford Exchange which was constructed in 1850 but later re-sited further south as Bradford Interchange.
The Interchange is on the Calderdale Line and runs services much further afield to places such as London Kings Cross, Blackpool North, and Manchester. Under the government’s northern hub project, it now also provides services to Liverpool Lime Street, Chester, and Manchester Airport.
Although there’s only a ten minutes walk between the Interchange and Forster Square, they are not linked by rail. There is however a free city bus service that runs between the two.
Unlike other Yorkshire cities, more notably Huddersfield, Leeds, and Wakefield, the bus and train stations are combined at the Interchange. This allows for greater flexibility of transport out of the city.
Some of the bus services run to local destinations and suburbs of the city. Other services, such as the National Express coaches, travel nationwide while the Bharat buses take passengers to places such as Derby, Leicester, and Slough.
There are free city buses available throughout the city centre. These run to the city’s university, college, and Forster Square station.
Education in Bradford
Bradford University was founded in 1832 as a Mechanics Institute. 50 years later it was renamed Bradford Technical College. Then, in 1966, it was given a royal charter and became the UK’s 40th university.
The institution has created a reputation for its research in peace and conflict. In 1973, this was established as a course making it the first in the country to study this area.
In the 21st century, the university has enjoyed radical transformation. In 2006 it became the world’s first “ecoversity”,
meaning Bradford University has significantly reduced its carbon footprint.
“The Green” student village was first opened in 2011. Bradford University also made several upgrades to areas such as its sports facilities, library, and laboratories to name a few.
In 1979 the institution won the University Challenge. Bradford took home the title after they beat Lancaster University in the final.
Bradford College is another higher education institution. It offers a variety of courses and degrees validated by the University of Teesside. Former students include singer Tasmin Archer and artist David Hockney.
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.
Sports in Bradford
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 as a result of Manningham RLFC changing 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. A devastating 56 people were killed and a further 265 people were injured. Each year, a memorial service is held for the victims at Bradford Cathedral.
In 1995, Bradford City F.C. won their promotion to the Premier League for two seasons. In the end, they suffered from a financial meltdown which meant several relegation’s to League 2. In 2013, they became the first club from the fourth tier of English football to play in the 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, The Bradford Bulls, originally named Bradford Northern, currently play at the Odsal stadium. They were formed in 1907 after splitting with local football outfit Bradford Park Avenue.
Shopping in Bradford
The city centre is home to two major shopping centres. One of these is Kirkgate which opened in the 1960’s and is home to 65 shops. The other is Forster Square shopping park which opened its doors in 1995 and features 20 shops.
Little Germany, just outside the city centre, was established by German Jews in the 19th century. They constructed large warehouses in the area to store and export their goods.
Currently, Little Germany is a commercial hub for Bradford. It’s home to 110 businesses that use its redeveloped buildings and employs approximately 3,000 workers.
On the 5th of November 2015, Westfields shopping centre, The Broadway, opened its doors for the very first time. Due to the global financial crisis, construction stopped in 2008 and was later restarted on the 4th of January 2014.
Re-development in Bradford
Since 2003, Bradford’s city centre has undergone a major transformation. It is one of the few Yorkshire cities to have its own dedicated “city centre park”.
The six acre site is located near to the Town Hall. It features the Centenary Square and mirror pool which has 100 fountains, the middle one being the tallest in any UK city.
In summer, visitors can paddle in the water and when drained can hold large public events such as The Bradford Festival and other stage performances. The area was officially opened in 2012.
There is a lot to love about Bradford. From it’s fantastic mix of culture to the innovative city park, it is one of the most multicultural places in Yorkshire that is definitely worth a visit.
Bradford got its name from the old English words “Broad ford”. This refers to Bradford Beck which is situated below the site of Bradford Cathedral.
The city was listed as Bradeford in the 1086 Domesday book. At this time, the area was laid to waste by William The Conqueror’s harrying of the north. This was a revenge attack on Northern uprisings against Norman rule.
By the Middle Ages, Bradford was a very small town with a few streets. These were Kirkgate, Westgate, and Ivegate.
Slowly, Bradford grew due to the birth of the woollen trade in the 18th Century. At this stage the trade was produced in local cottages and farms.
In 1801, Bradford had a population of just 6,393 people. It was smaller in size than neighbouring Keighley, Halifax, and Huddersfield. The villages of Manningham and Great Horton were still separated from the town by the countryside.
This Industrial Revolution dramatically increased the size and population of Bradford. Its sandstone rock was used for building woollen mills which still stand to this day. On the other hand, the soft water of the Aire Valley was perfect for cleaning raw wool to make it ready to be spun.
By 1850, the town’s population had increased to 182,000. Transportation developments soon followed and included railway lines and canals. This helped exporting products and made Bradford into the wool capital of the world.
During this period of massive economic change, Bradford experienced its first association with immigration. Irish workers and German Jewish merchants travelled across the sea to Bradford.
The Irish workers formed the largest Gaelic community in Yorkshire. In addition, the German Jewish merchants came to manufacture and export their goods created in the city, mostly around Little Germany and Manningham. They brought with them the city’s first synagogues.
In 1893, the Independent Labour Party’s founding conference was held in Bradford . To this day they are still an influence within the British Socialist movement to this day. A mural commemorating this can be found at The Bradford Playhouse.
Roughly the same time, an egg and butter merchant called William Morrison set up a provisions company. His son, Ken, would later establish the city’s first self-service shop and eventually one of the largest supermarket chains in the country – Morrisons. Its headquarters remain in Bradford to this day.
After the Second World War, immigrants from Commonwealth countries, such as Pakistan, came to Bradford. They took jobs in its textile mills due to a national labour shortage.
Many who came to Bradford settled in the Manningham area of the city near Lister Mills. At the time, this was one of the city’s largest employers.
The decline of the textile industry throughout the late 20th Century was caused by competition. Different countries were producing different, more synthetic, textiles which were fashionable at the time.
Throughout the late 20th Century the textile industry declined. Other countries were starting to compete with Bradford.
Changes in textiles were also a contributing factor. Fashion was moving more towards synthetic material rather than wool. This led to high unemployment and made wool less popular.
In 2001, Bradford hit national headlines after riots between white and asian youths. This prompted the creation of a “people’s plan”. It helped bring different ethnic communities of the city together again.
Bradford continues to have a bright future. With the creation of the city park along with various events, it’s a city with a sense of community at its core.
Some people in Bradford still say they live in The West Riding of Yorkshire. Up until the local government reorganisation in 1974 they did. Currently they are part of West Yorkshire.
People first settled in Bradford during the Saxon times.
Bradford was originally called “Broad Ford”.
In the Middle Ages Bradford became 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 first and only time. Jimmy Speirs scored a goal in the 15th minute which was enough to win the replay against Newcastle United.
Bradford grew dramatically 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 men 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.