Weekly City Spotlight: Bradford


Skyline view of the city of Bradford

Situated in West Yorkshire in the North of England, Bradford is a city which has much to offer.  Located close to Wakefield and Leeds, at the base of the Pennines, in 1847 it became a municipal borough and achieved city status in 1897.  In 1974, this status was extended to the metropolitan borough of the City of Bradford, following the introduction of the Local Government Act 1972.

Internationally Acclaimed Textiles
Bradford takes its name from the Broad Ford, where the Bradford Beck was crossed at Church Bank.  In 1086, records show it referred to as Bradeford, and it grew from a Saxon settlement at this time to a town in the Middle Ages. History shows in the 1300’s Bradford’s growth was assisted by the annual fairs which were allowed to take place there following the approval by Edward IV.

During the 19th century Bradford became associated with manufacturing on a large scale, particularly within the textile industry.  Bradford received international recognition during the time of the Industrial Revolution, with part of its success attributed to its supply of iron ore and coal from the surrounding area.  Bradford experienced rapid growth of its population at this time, following its success within the textile field with wool being a key focus.   At one stage it was recognised as being the wool capital of the world, with a large number of sandstone mills built to cope with the increased demand for its textiles.

In 1883, Titus Salt followed in his father’s footsteps and began to run the family’s textile business.  Titus grew the business significantly to include 5 mills. The overall increased growth of manufacturing facilities within Bradford led to a high increase in pollution and in 1853, Salt set to work building a village to house his workers.  This was called Saltaire and located near Shipley, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a preserved Victoria village.

Samuel Lister
Born near Bradford on 1st January 1815, Samuel Lister was an innovator whose influence played a huge part in Bradford’s success.  The industrialist, together with his brother were worsted manufacturers. Worsted was the name given to the yarn and the type of fabric made from it, which Bradford was famous for producing.  Lister revolutionised the manufacturing of textiles and is famed for investing the Lister Nip Comb, a machine used to straighten and separate fibres.  Lister went on to become one of the most successful businessmen in the area, becoming a multi-millionaire and a major employer offering thousands of workers jobs.

The Bronte Sisters
The Bronte Sisters lived in the now famous village of Haworth which is within the Borough of Bradford. Born in Thornton, on the outskirts of Bradford, Emily, Charlotte and Anne lived in Haworth from 1820 – 1861 and became world famous for tales such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.   The beautiful home of the Bronte’s is now the Bronte Parsonage Museum which offers visitors a unique insight into the lives of the remarkable sisters.  It is filled with many of their treasured possessions.

Popular Culture
Bradford today is a vibrant and culturally diverse city, it offers visitors museums and galleries, as well as fantastic cuisine from many award winning restaurants.  The City Park now provides visitors with an incredible experience with a high tech water feature consisting of 100 fountains as well as laser and mist effects.

Films & TV
Bradford houses the National Media Museum which explores the origins of television, film, photography and animation.  It is also home to Bradford’s two film festivals – The Bradford International Film Festival which takes place in April and the Bradford Animation Festival which is in November.  Many films have been shot in Bradford including Billy Liar, Room at the Top, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and Brassed Off.  The significance of Bradford in the history of film and television has led to Bradford becoming the world’s first UNESCO City of Film.

Canadian Award Winning Author Cory Doctorow’s novel, Pirate Cinema features Trent McAuley as the main character who lives in Bradford, following the Author’s visits to Eastercon – a British science fiction convention which has been held in Bradford.

Patricia Hall’s (Maureen O’Connor’s pseudonym) crime series which features Ackroyd and Thackerey are set in Bradford, with titles such as Devil’s Game (2009) and Death in a Far Country (2007) there are many more in this series.  Maureen O’Connor was born in Bradford in 1940.
Lesley Horton, born in West Yorkshire and who attended University in Bradford, is another Crime writer who features Bradford as a location for her novels, these include On Dangerous Ground (2004), and Snares of Guilt (2002).

Social Media
Bradford has its own official tourism website, Visit Bradford, as well as Facebook and Twitter  accounts.

Famous Faces
Adrian Edmondson – born in Bradford on 24 January 1957, is famous for his roles in programmes such as the Young Ones and Bottom, both of which starred Rik Mayall.  As well as starring in many of the Comic Strip films, he is a successful stand-up comedian, director and presenter. Adrian married actress and writer Jennifer Saunders in 1985.

Kimberly Walsh – born in Bradford 20th November 1981, a member of Girls Aloud which had 20 top ten hits in the charts.  Kimberly is also an actress and presenter and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2012.

Timothy West – born in Bradford on 20th October 1934, a renowned British Actor and Director of stage and screen, he is known for starring in such films as The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Cry Freedom (1987), and The Day of the Jackal. Timothy married actress Prunella Scales in 1963.


The Wool Exchange – The beautiful building, which features gothic design, has the appearance of a church and was built between 1864 and 1867, following designs by Lockwood and Mawson, architects from the local area.  Its purpose was to provide a centre for wool trading in Bradford. Visitors today can enjoy the shopping centre contained within this historic building.

The Bradford Alhambra – This grade II listed building is a theatre situated in Morley Street, which was officially opened in March 1914, it takes its name from the Alhambra Palace in Granada. The suitably named Restaurant 1914 was opened last year, where diners can enjoy amazing views from the top of this building.

Cartwright Hall, Lister Park – Opened in 1904, this art gallery which features baroque styling, houses collections which were kindly donated to Cartwright Hall by the likes of Samuel Lister. It offers visitors the chance to see sculptures and paintings by various artists in a remarkable setting.

Image credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/1430056096/