Bradford has an Anglo-Saxon name that means the broad ford. Throughout the Middle Ages Bradford was, like Leeds, an important woollen and textile centre but the town did not really begin to grow until the nineteenth century. The industrial growth of Bradford was to attract labour from all over Europe and the British empire so that Bradford ha become famed as a cultural melting pot with people of Irish, German, Italian, Eastern European, Caribbean and Asian descent.
Most of Bradford's famous buildings are Victorian, but one of Bradford's oldest buildings is its fifteenth century cathedral in Church Bank, which was Bradford's parish church of St Peter until Bradford was created a diocese in 1919. It is a large church reflecting Bradford's size and status in medieval times.
A steam powered mill was erected at Bradford in 1798, but the real growth of the town was in the nineteenth century. Most of the impressive buildings of the city date from the Victorian period including the Wool Exchange of 1864 and Bradford City Hall of 1873 which were both designed by the Bradford architects Lockwood and Mawson. The style of the City Hall is Victorian Gothic with a huge clock tower based on the Pallazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Bradford's Victorian buildings were often influenced by classical European styles. Even industrial buildings were influenced by such styles including Lister's Mill (1873) in the Manningham area of Bradford, with its 250 feet high chimney styled like an Italian bell tower.
Perhaps the most famous Victorian building in Bradford is Lockwood and Mawson's St George's Hall, a concert hall in Bridge Street dating from 1851. A more unusual feature of Bradford's Victorian history, occasionally promoted as a tourist attraction, is the Undercliffe Cemetery which is famous for its extravagant and outstanding Victorian funereal art and architecture.
Buildings of the more modern era include the National Media Museum which opened in 1983. It has claimed to be the home of the world's biggest lens, the smallest camera and the first ever photographic likeness.
The population growth of Bradford in the Victorian age was as follows - 13,000 in 1801 growing to 104,400 in 1851, to 280,000 by 1901.
FAMOUS PEOPLE OF BRADFORD
Famous folk born in Bradford include the novelist and playwright J.B.Priestley (1894-1984). His full name was John Boynton Priestley. Priestley's works reflect his typical blunt Yorkshire characteristics. Staying on the literary front, the Bronte family of nearby Haworth, can almost be claimed for the Bradford area.
Social campaigners connected with Bradford include Richard Oastler who campaigned against the use of child labour in the mills and the Bradford MP, W.E Forster who was the man behind the Compulsory Education Act of 1870. On the artistic front Bradford is famed as the birthplace of the artist David Hockney who was born in the town in 1937 as well as being the birthplace of the composer Frederick Delius (1862-1934) whose parents were German immigrants.
SALTAIRE AND BRADFORD'S SURROUNDS
One of the most interesting places in the neighbourhood of Bradford is Saltaire near Shipley, three miles north of Bradford. Saltaire was a model village built in the 1850s by Sir Titus Salt and it was one of the first model villages in the world. The village stands at the entrance to Lister park, a healthy location chosen by Sir Titus for his new alpaca and mohair cloth mill - the famous Salt's Mill of 1853.
The model village was built for the workers at the mill. Eight-hundred or so houses were built, along with a public dining hall, schools, a hospital, a church and almshouses. Almost every provision was built except for a pub. Salt's Mill is now a gallery which displays the work of the Bradford born artist David Hockney.
Bolling Hall in Bradford's Bowling park was built around a fifteenth century pele tower, a fortified tower house more typical of Northumberland. The building was extended in the 17th century and then in the 18th century by the architect John Carr. Families connected with Bolling Hall include the Bollings, Tempests and Saviles.
Bingley is a town to the north west of Bradford on the road to Keighley. Here to the north is Ilkley Moor and beyond the moor Ilkley itself, but there are no roads directly across.
Fulneck Moravian settlement lies to the west of Bradford near Pudsey on the outskirts of Leeds. Another Moravian settlement can be found at Wyke on the road south towards Brighouse and Huddersfield.
Search the site