Bradford is a city in West Yorkshire, originally the West Riding of Yorkshire, and has a population of over 530,000 people. It is at the foot of the Pennine Hills and known for its multiculturalism, tourism, and being the wool capital of the world. Bradford has many well-known landmarks and tourist attractions on offer.
- Bradford Cathedral
- Mills in Bradford
- Museums in Bradford
- Theatres & Venues in Bradford
- Religion in Bradford
- Culture in Bradford
- Food in Bradford
- Travelling In & Out of Bradford
- Transportation in Bradford
- Education in Bradford
- Sports in Bradford
- Shopping in Bradford
- Re-development in Bradford
- History of Bradford
- Bradford Gallery
- Bradford Trivia
In the 14th century, the city’s residents built Bradford Cathedral on the same site, which was home to two churches before it. One of these churches fell into ruin and the other destroyed by invading Scots.
Originally a parish church, the building gained cathedral status in 1919. During the 1950s, Sir Edward Maufe carried out work to increase the cathedral in size. The facilities were further modernised in 1987 in order to cope with the large number of visitors.
Saltaire has become a well-known world heritage site which is visited and loved by many. The site is based around the model village built by Sir Titus Salt in 1851 and designed for his employees who worked at the mill.
Sir Titus Salt built the houses within Saltaire from stone. The main purpose of building this site was so Salt could provide for his employees. He included a library, church, baths, and a park within his plans for his residents to enjoy.
Located three miles out of the city, Salt built the village next to the River Aire and Leeds Liverpool Canal. This meant he could export his alpaca wool products while keeping his workers away from the slums of Bradford.
Famously, Salt did not allow pubs or ale shops within the village. His reason behind this being that he didn’t want alcohol affecting the health of his worker.
In 1986, Salt’s Mill spun its last wool and later gained its World Heritage Status in 2001. It’s now open to visitors and is home to a series of independent shops, businesses, restaurants, and the David Hockney art gallery. People can enjoy the landmarks that Sit Titus Salt built and take part in guided walks. These days, visitors can also have a drink in one of its now thriving pubs.
The original houses are still present along its narrow streets, which are each named after Salt’s children and relatives. Salt’s Mill is still a working village today. These properties are highly sought after because of its rail links and pleasant environment.
Another mill in Bradford is Moorside in Eccleshill. John Moore built Moorside in 1875, which comprised a mill and a house. The worsted spinner expanded the mill, which changed ownership several times over the years. In 1970, Bradford City Council and opened Bradford Industrial Museum four years later in 1974.
Bradford Industrial Museum
Moorside in Eccleshill is now the 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.
National Media Museum
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.
Across the road stands the historic Alhambra Theatre, which opened in 1914. The venue seats around 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.
The Studio Theatre
Next to the Alhambra Theatre Main House is The Studio Theatre. It has 200 seats and hosts more intimate events such as comedy shows. People and businesses also hire it for workshops, meetings and exhibitions.
St George’s Hall
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 several 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.
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 religions. According to the 2011 census, the top three 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.
People celebrate many religious festivals in Bradford. Diwali and Eid are just a few of the celebratory festivals that take place in the city centre.
The Bollywood film industry has flourished in Bradford since the 1960s, some films screened alongside their Hollywood counterparts in the city’s commercial cinemas.
In 2013, Bradford celebrated 100 years of Indian Cinema and held events 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, and Bollywood film posters were put up around the city.
Each year, Bradford holds a festival in the city centre park to bring people from different communities in Bradford together. There are international stalls, music, and food. This “mela” day, or coming together, features a programme of multicultural music, performance, and dance.
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 where chefs and exhibitors make dishes from all over the world. The city has been voted curry capital of Britain for several years in a row, beating twenty-one cities for the coveted title, including their nearest rivals, Glasgow.
Bradford is a well-connected town and has easy access to other towns and cities in Yorkshire. The building of the M62 in the 1970s 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 at the raised Staithgate roundabout. 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.
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
Forster Square station was originally built in 1906. However, in 1990, it was demolished and rebuilt 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 and renamed 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.
Bradford University was founded in 1832 as a Mechanics Institute because there was a demand within the town for skilled workers. 50 years later, it was renamed Bradford Technical College. In 1966, the university was given a royal charter and became the UK’s 40th university.
Since opening, the institution has created itself a reputation for its research in peace and conflict. It became an established course in 1973, making it the university in the country to allow people to study and specialise in this area.
In 1979, the institution took part in the University Challenge and won. Bradford took home the title after beating Lancaster University in the final.
During the 21st century, Bradford University underwent a radical transformation. In 2006, it significantly reduced its carbon footprint and became the world’s first “ecoversity”. “The Green” student village opened in 2011 and was soon followed by upgrades to areas such as its sports facilities, library, and laboratories, to name a few.
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
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.
Bradford City F.C
Close to 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 stand at Valley Parade set alight during the last 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.
The Bradford Bulls
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.
The city centre is home to two major shopping centres. One of these is Kirkgate, which opened in the 1960s and is home to 65 shops. The other is Forster Square shopping park which opened its doors in 1995 and features 20 shops.
German Jews establish Little Germany just outside of the city centre in the 19th century. They constructed large warehouses in the area to store and export their goods.
Little Germany is a now commercial hub for Bradford. It’s home to 110 businesses that use its redeveloped buildings with 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.
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 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 its 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 below the site of Bradford Cathedral.
The city was listed as Bradeford in the 1086 Domesday book. During this time, William The Conqueror’s harrying of the north laid the area to waste. This was a revenge attack on Northern uprisings against Norman rule.
By the Middle Ages, Bradford was a tiny town with a few streets. These were Kirkgate, Westgate, and Ivegate.
Slowly, Bradford grew because of 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 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 ballooned 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 to export 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.
Founding of the Independent Labour Party
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 one of the largest supermarket chains in the country – Morrisons. Its headquarters remain in Bradford to this day.
World War II
After the Second World War, immigrants from Commonwealth countries came to Bradford. They took jobs in its textile mills because of 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.
Competition caused the decline of the textile industry throughout the late 20th century. Different countries were producing different, more synthetic, textiles which were fashionable during this time.
Throughout the late 20th century, the textile industry declined. Other countries began 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. They are now 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.