Bradford

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Bradford (/ˈbrædfəd/) lies at the heart of the City of Bradford, a metropolitan borough of West Yorkshire, in Northern England. It is situated in the foothills of the Pennines, 8.6 miles (13.8 km) west of Leeds, and 16 miles (25.7 km) northwest of Wakefield. Bradford became a municipal borough in 1847, and received its charter as a city in 1897. Following local government reform in 1974, city status was bestowed upon the wider metropolitan borough.

Bradford has a population of 293,717, making it the fourteenth-most populous settlement in the United Kingdom. Bradford forms part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area conurbation which in 2001 had a population of 1.5 million and is part of the Leeds-Bradford Larger Urban Zone (LUZ), the third largest in the UK after London and Manchester, with an estimated population in the 2004 Urban Audit of 2.4 million.

Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Bradford rose to prominence during the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture, particularly wool. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and amongst the earliest industrialised settlements, rapidly becoming the “wool capital of the world”. The area’s access to a supply of coal, iron ore and soft water facilitated the growth of Bradford’s manufacturing base, which, as textile manufacture grew, led to an explosion in population and was a stimulus to civic investment; Bradford has fine Victorian architecture including the grand Italianate City Hall.

The textile sector in Bradford fell into decline from the mid-20th century. Since this time, Bradford has emerged as a tourist destination with attractions such as the National Media Museum and Cartwright Hall. However, Bradford has faced similar challenges to the rest of the post-industrial area of Northern England, including deindustrialisation, housing problems, social unrest and economic deprivation. Bradford is cited as a prime example of ‘parallel communities’, where the population is effectively segregated along ethnic, cultural and faith lines.

The name Bradford is derived from the Old English brad and ford the broad ford which referred to a crossing of the Bradford Beck at Church Bank below the site of Bradford Cathedral, around which a settlement grew in Saxon times. It was recorded as “Bradeford” in 1086.

Bradford was settled in Saxon times and by the middle ages had become a small town centred on Kirkgate, Westgate and Ivegate. After William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North, the manor of Bradford was described as waste in the Domesday Book of 1086. It became part of the Honour of Pontefract given to Ilbert de Lacy for service to the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. There is evidence of a castle in the time of the Lacys. In 1316 there is mention of a fulling mill, a soke mill where all the manor corn was milled and a market. During the Wars of the Roses the inhabitants sided with House of Lancaster. Edward IV granted the right to hold two annual fairs and from this time the town began to prosper. In the reign of Henry VIII Bradford exceeded Leeds as a manufacturing centre. Bradford grew slowly over the next two-hundred years as the woollen trade gained in prominence.

During the Civil War the town was garrisoned for the Parliamentarians and in 1642 was unsuccessfully attacked by Royalist forces from Leeds. Sir Thomas Fairfax took the command of the garrison and marched to meet the Duke of Newcastle but was defeated. The Parliamentarians retreated to Bradford and the Royalists set up headquarters at Bolling Hall from where the town was besieged leading to its surrender. The Civil War caused a decline in industry but after the accession of William and Mary in 1689 prosperity began to return. The launch of manufacturing in the early 18th century marked the start of the town’s development while new canal and turnpike road links encouraged trade.

At the turn of the 19th century, Bradford was a small rural market town of 16,000 people, where wool spinning and cloth weaving was carried out in local cottages and farms. The Industrial Revolution led to rapid growth, with wool imported in vast quantities for the manufacture of worsted cloth in which Bradford specialised, and the town soon became known as the wool capital of the world. Yorkshire had plentiful supplies of soft water, which was needed in the cleaning of raw wool, and locally mined coal provided the power that the industry needed. Local sandstone was an excellent resource for building the mills, and with a population of 182,000 by 1850, the town grew rapidly as workers were attracted by jobs in the textile mills.

Blast furnaces were established in about 1788 by Hird, Dawson Hardy at Low Moor and iron was worked by the Bowling Iron Company until about 1900. Yorkshire iron was used for shackles, hooks and piston rods for locomotives, colliery cages and other mining appliances where toughness was required. Low Moor also made pig iron and the company employed 1,500 men in 1929.

A major employer was Titus Salt who in 1833 took over the running of his father’s woollen business specialising in fabrics combining alpaca, mohair, cotton and silk. By 1850 he had five mills. However because of the polluted environment and squalid conditions for his workers Salt left Bradford and transferred his business to Saltaire in 1850, where in 1853 he began to build the workers village which has become a UNESCO World Heritage site. Other major employers were Samuel Lister and his brother who were worsted spinners and manufacturers at Lister’s Mill (Manningham Mills). Lister epitomised Victorian enterprise but it has been suggested that his capitalist attitude made trade unions necessary. Unprecedented growth created problems with over 200 factory chimneys continually churning out black, sulphurous smoke, Bradford gained the reputation of being the most polluted town in England. There were frequent outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, and only 30% of children born to textile workers reached the age of fifteen. Life expectancy, of just over eighteen years, was one of the lowest in the country. Like many major cities Bradford has been a destination for immigrants. In the 1840s Bradford’s population was significantly increased by migrants from Ireland, particularly rural Mayo and Sligo, and by 1851 about 10% of the population were born in Ireland, the largest proportion in Yorkshire.

During the 1820s and 1830s there was immigration from Germany. Many were merchants and became active in the life of the town. The Jewish community numbered about 100 families but was influential in the development of Bradford as a major exporter of woollen goods from their textile export houses mostly based in Little Germany and the civic life of Bradford. Jacob Behrens (1806–1889) exported woollen goods and his company developed into an international multi-million pound business.

To support the textile mills, a large manufacturing base grew up in the town providing textile machinery, and this led to diversification with different industries thriving side by side. The Jowett Motor Company founded in the early 20th century by Benjamin and William Jowett and Arthur V Lamb, manufactured cars and vans in Bradford for 50 years.

After World War II migrants came from Poland and Ukraine and since the 1950s from Bangladesh, India and particularly Pakistan.

The textile industry has been in decline throughout the latter part of the 20th century. A culture of innovation had been fundamental to Bradford’s dominance, with new textile technologies being invented in the city; a prime example being the work of Samuel Lister. This innovation culture continues today throughout Bradford’s economy, from automotive (Kahn Design) to electronics (Pace Micro Technology). Wm Morrison Supermarkets was founded by William Morrison in 1899, initially as an egg and butter merchant in Rawson Market, operating under the name of Wm Morrison (Provisions) Limited.

The grandest of the mills no longer used for textile production is Lister’s Mill, the chimney of which can be seen from most places in Bradford. It has become a beacon of regeneration after a £100 million conversion to apartment blocks by property developer Urban Splash.

In 1989, copies of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses were burnt in the city, and a section of the Muslim community led a campaign against the book. In July 2001, ethnic tensions led to rioting, and a report described Bradford as fragmented and a city of segregated ethnic communities.

The city played an important part in the early history of the Labour Party. A mural on the back of the Priestley Centre For The Arts (visible from Leeds Road) commemorates the centenary of the founding of the Independent Labour Party in 1893.

Topographically, it is located in the eastern moorland region of the South Pennines.

Bradford is not built on any substantial body of water but is situated at the junction of three valleys, one of them, that of the Bradford Beck which rises in moorland to the west, and is swelled by its tributaries, the Horton Beck, Westbrook, Bowling Beck and Eastbrook. At the site of the original ford, the beck turns north, and flows towards the River Aire at Shipley. Bradfordale (or Bradforddale) is a name given to this valley (see for example Firth 1997). It can be regarded as one of the Yorkshire Dales, though as it passes though the city, it is often not recognised as such. The beck’s course through the city centre is culverted and has been since the mid 19th century. On the 1852 Ordnance Survey map it is visible as far as Sun Bridge, at the end of Tyrrell Street, and then from beside Bradford Forster Square railway station on Kirkgate. On the 1906 Ordnance Survey, it disappears at Tumbling Hill Street, off Thornton Road, and appears north of Cape Street, off Valley Road, though there are culverts as far as Queens Road.

The Bradford Canal, built in 1774, linking the city to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal took its water from Bradford Beck and its tributaries. The supply was often inadequate to feed the locks, and the polluted state of the canal led to its temporary closure in 1866: the canal was closed in the early 20th century as uneconomic. ‘The Channel’ is another facet of the Alsop plan, envisaging the creation of a new canal-side community through its reopening.

Bradford’s textile industry has been in decline for many years and the city has suffered from de-industrialisation. It has some of the poorest levels of social deprivation in the UK, with widespread pockets of exclusion, and rates of unemployment in some wards exceeding 25%. However the economy is worth around £7 billion, contributing around 8.4% of the region’s output, and making the district the third largest (after Leeds and Sheffield) in Yorkshire & Humber. The economy has diversified and the city is home to several major companies, notably in finance (Yorkshire Building Society, Provident Financial), electronics (Pace Micro, Filtronic), engineering (NG Bailey, Powell Switchgear), and manufacturing (Denso Marston, BASF, Bailey Offsite). Supermarket chain Morrisons has its head office in Bradford.

One of the city’s biggest employers is Provident Financial plc, a financial services group that specialises in Home Collected Credit (HCC) and owns Vanquis which offers credit cards. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. The company was established in 1880 by Joshua Kelley Waddilove to provide affordable credit to families in West Yorkshire. It has moved into a 250,000 sq ft (23,000 m2), £45 million, flagship headquarters building in the city centre creating hundreds of jobs for the city. The building also houses a 200-bed Jurys Inn hotel. Thomas Cook has its Tour Operators Head Office, which employs about 1000 staff in the city.

Bradford’s oldest building is the cathedral, which for most of its life was a parish church. Few other Medieval buildings have survived apart from Bolling Hall, which has been preserved as a museum.

There are some fine Victorian buildings: apart from the abundance of mills, there is the City Hall (with statues of rulers of England unusually including Oliver Cromwell), the former Wool Exchange, and a large Victorian cemetery at Undercliffe. Little Germany is a splendid Victorian commercial district just east of the city centre which takes its name from 19th century German Jewish immigrants who ran businesses from some of the many listed buildings. Following decades of decay there have been successful conversions to office and residential use. In mid-2005 renovation began on the prominent Eastbrook Hall in Little Germany. Bradford also has a number of architecturally historic hotels that date back to the establishment of the two railway lines into the city centre, back in Victorian times. The Victoria Hotel and the Midland Hotel were built to accommodate business travellers to the city during the height of the woollen trade.

Like many cities, Bradford lost a number of notable buildings to developers in the 1960s and 1970s: particularly mourned at the time were the Swan Arcade and the old Kirkgate Market. In recent years some buildings from that era have themselves been demolished and replaced: Provincial House, next to Centenary Square, was demolished by controlled explosion in 2002, and Forster House was pulled down in 2005 as part of the Broadway development.

Bradford’s main art gallery is housed in the grand Edwardian Cartwright Hall in Lister Park. The National Media Museum celebrates cinema and movies, and is the most visited museum outside London. It contains an Imax cinema, the Cubby Broccoli Cinema, and the Pictureville Cinema — described by David Puttnam as the best cinema in Britain.

Also in the city is The St George’s Hall – a grand concert hall dating from 1853 making it the oldest concert hall in Britain and the third oldest in the whole of Europe. The former Odeon cinema (Originally The New Victoria Theatre (Bradford)) was the recent focus of protests by Bradfordians who did not wish to see the old building close. Adjacent is the Alhambra theatre, built in 1914 for theatre impresario Frank Laidler, and later owned by the Moss Empire group (Oswald Stoll and Edward Moss). The theatre was refurbished in 1986.

Within the city district there are 37 parks and gardens. Lister Park, with its boating lake and Mughal Water Gardens, was voted Britain’s Best Park for 2006. Peel Park is the venue for the annual Mela — a celebration of eastern culture, and Bowling Park in East Bowling is the site of the annual Bradford Carnival celebrating local African and Caribbean culture.

In past centuries Bradford’s location in Bradfordale made communications difficult, except from the north. Nonetheless, Bradford is now well-served by transport systems. Bradford was first connected to the developing turnpike network in 1734, when the first Yorkshire turnpike was built between Manchester and Leeds via Halifax and Bradford.

Today Bradford is accessed by several trunk roads, the A647 between Leeds and Halifax, via Queensbury, the A650 between Wakefield and Keighley, the A658 to Harrogate and the A6036 to Halifax via Shelf. The M606, a spur off the M62 motorway, connects Bradford with the national motorway network. Although originally planned to go directly into the city centre it ends at the ring road.

The Bradford Canal was a 4-mile (6.4 km) spur from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Shipley. It was built to connect Bradford with the limestone quarries of North Yorkshire, the industrial towns on both sides of the Pennines and the ports of Liverpool and Goole. It opened in 1774, closed in 1866, reopened in 1871, and finally closed in 1922. There are plans to rebuild it as a key part of the regeneration of the city centre.

The Leeds and Bradford Railway opened Forster Square railway station on 1 July 1846 with a service via Shipley to Leeds. The station was rebuilt in the early 1850s and again, in 1890 and 1990.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway opened a station at Drake Street on 9 May 1850, between Manchester and Leeds. The Great Northern Railway opened a third terminus at Adolphus Street in 1854, but the station was too far from the centre, and the two companies built a joint station, Bradford Exchange which opened in 1867. Adolphus Street remained as a goods terminal. In 1973, Exchange station was rebuilt on a different site and in 1983 renamed Bradford Interchange and a bus station built alongside. Forster Square and Bradford Interchange stations are part of the West Yorkshire Metro.

There have been many schemes to link between Bradford’s railway terminals. The major redevelopment of the city centre in the 1960s provided an opportunity to connect the termini but was not pursued and large buildings were constructed on the alignment in the 1990s. The main difficulty in connecting the termini is the great difference in elevation: Bradford Interchange is at the end of a long slope, steep by railway standards, but is many feet higher than Forster Square. This gradient is not unprecedented in railway construction and the relocation of Forster Square Station further from the city centre has provided additional space in which the transition could be accomplished.

A tram system was begun by Bradford Corporation in 1882. At first the vehicles were horse-drawn but were replaced by steam-driven trams in 1883, and by electric vehicles in 1898. On 20 June 1911, Britain’s first trolleybus systems opened simultaneously in Bradford, between Laisterdyke and Dudley Hill, and in Leeds. The last service in Bradford — and Britain — ceased operation on 26 March 1972. Ten Bradford trolleybuses are preserved at the Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum. In 1974 Bradford’s municipal buses were taken over by the West Yorkshire Metro. First Bradford and Arriva are the chief operators of buses in Bradford, with some routes using guided buses.

Leeds Bradford International Airport is 6 miles (9.7 km) to the north east of the city. Bradford and Leeds councils jointly opened the airport in 1931. There has been rapid expansion in recent years, and is the home base of economy Airline Jet2.com. In May 2007 the joint councils sold the airport to Bridgepoint Capital for £145.5 million. Bridgepoint announced that a further £70 million would be invested in airport improvements, to boost passenger figures to over 7 million by 2015.

The National Media Museum hosts the Bradford International Film Festival annually in March. In June 2009 Bradford was designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Film for its links to the production and distribution of films, its media and film museum and its “cinematographic legacy”.

“Becoming the world’s first City of Film is the ultimate celebration of Bradford’s established and dynamic history in film and media,” said Colin Philpott, director of Bradford’s National Media Museum. “With the UNESCO City of Film designation, Bradford will now go on to achieve inspirational projects in film.” Simon Beaufoy from Bradford, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire, said the city had played a crucial role in the story of cinema and deserved to be recognised.

The Bradford Animation Festival – the UK’s longest-running animation festival, held each November sees an array of screentalks, workshops and special events. The festival culminates in the annual BAF Awards which celebrate new animation from around the world.

The city has a heritage in film production and many films and TV productions have been filmed in the city including Room at the Top, Billy Liar and The Red Riding Trilogy. Bradford was the location for the films Yanks, starring Richard Gere, and The Railway Children, a 1970s classic about Victorian children whose father goes missing. Monty Python’s ground-breaking The Meaning of Life and the controversial hit Rita, Sue and Bob Too, about a married man who cannot choose between two teenage lovers, were also filmed in the city.

There are four theatres in Bradford: the Alhambra which has smaller studio theatre in the same complex. These are operated by City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. The Theatre in the Mill is a small studio theatre at the University of Bradford which presents student and community shows and small-scale touring professional work. The Priestley Theatre is a privately run venue with a medium-sized proscenium theatre and a small studio.

St George’s Hall is a concert hall dating from 1853 making it the oldest concert hall in Britain and the third oldest in Europe. Bradford Festival Choral Society was founded to perform at the inaugural Bradford Musical Festival that took place in August of that year, and the choir is still a part of the musical life of the city. The Bradford Mela, the biggest of its kind outside Asia, takes place in June. The word mela is Sanskrit for ‘a gathering’ or ‘to meet’. In the UK, melas provide an opportunity for communities to come together to celebrate and share their cultures. Mela festivals include a combination of markets, funfairs, food and drink, arts and workshops, children’s activities, strolling entertainment and a variety of music and dance performances on a number of stages. Bradford held the first mela in Europe in September 1988 and it has been held in Peel Park since then.

Bradford is home to the acclaimed National Media Museum (previously the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television) which celebrates cinema and movies, and is the most visited museum outside London. It contains the UK’s first IMAX theatre, the Cubby Broccoli Cinema, and the Pictureville Cinema — described by David Puttnam as the best cinema in Britain.

Bradford Industrial Museum was established in 1974 at Moorside Mills, a spinning mill in Eccleshill. The Museum celebrates and explains the significant achievements in Bradford’s industrial past, from textiles and printing to the manufacture of motor cars. A mile from the city centre is Bolling Hall Museum, a part medieval building which offers visitors a fascinating journey through the lives and times of the families for which it provided a home over five hundred years. Rooms are furnished and decorated to give a taste of life at different periods of the house’s history. Bradford’s main art gallery is housed in Cartwright Hall in Lister Park. Bradford 1 Gallery is a city centre art gallery opened in October 2007 in a new building in Centenary Square. The gallery shows four temporary exhibitions a year.

After a campaign in 2008 Bradford was recognized as a ‘City of Sanctuary’ on 18 November 2010. It is “ a place where a broad range of local organizations, community groups and faith communities, as well as local government are publicly committed to welcoming and including people seeking sanctuary.” The city has a history of welcoming and including newcomers from all corners of the world.

 

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