Bradford 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, west of Leeds, and 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 forms part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area conurbation which in 2001 had a population of 1.5 million and is the fourth largest urban area in the United Kingdom with the Bradford subdivision of the aforementioned urban area having a population of 293,717. Bradford is also 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, becoming the first UNESCO City of Film with attractions such as the National Media Museum, Bradford City Park, the Alhambra theatre and Cartwright Hall. However, Bradford has faced similar challenges to the rest of the post-industrial area of Northern England, including deindustrialisation, social unrest and economic deprivation.
Modern Local Area
Bradford was expanded in 1882 to include
In 1899 it was further expanded by adding
The current city boundaries date from 1 April 1974, when the county borough of Bradford was merged with a number of nearby boroughs and urban districts:
Kildwick was part of Bradford in 1974, but has since been moved into the Craven District (in North Yorkshire).
Most of Bradford is unparished, but there are parish and town councils for most of the outlying towns and villages in the District. From April 2004, the parishes still in existence are:
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.
After an uprising in 1070, during William the Conqueror's Harrying of the North, the manor of Bradford was laid waste and is described as such in the Domesday Book of 1086. It then became part of the Honour of Pontefract given to Ilbert de Lacy for service to the Conqueror, in whose family the manor remained until 1311. There is evidence of a castle in the time of the Lacys. The manor then passed to the Earl of Lincoln, John Gaunt, The Crown and, ultimately, private ownership in 1620.
By the middle ages Bradford, had become a small town centred on Kirkgate, Westgate and Ivegate. 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.
In 1801, Bradford was a rural market town of 6,393 people, where wool spinning and cloth weaving was carried out in local cottages and farms. Bradford was thus not much bigger than nearby Keighley (5,745) and was significantly smaller than Halifax (8,866) and Huddersfield (7,268). This small town acted as a hub for three nearby townships - Manningham, Bowling and Great and Little Horton, which were separated from the town by countryside.
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. The expansion took place along the routes out of the city towards the Hortons and Bowling and the townships had become part of a continuous urban area by the late 19th Century.
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. The Low Moor Company 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 Salts Mill in 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. This extreme level of infant and youth mortality contributed to a life expectancy for Bradford residents of just over eighteen years, which 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 Jewish merchants and they became active in the life of the town. The Jewish community mostly living in the Manningham area of the town, numbered about 100 families but was influential in the development of Bradford as a major exporter of woollen goods from their textile export houses predominately 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.
Independent Labour Party
The city played an important part in the early history of the Labour Party. A mural on the back of the Bradford Playhouse in Little Germany commemorates the centenary of the founding of the Independent Labour Party in Bradford in 1893.
The Bradford Pals
The Bradford Pals were three First World War Pals battalions of Kitchener's Army raised in the city. When the three battalions were taken over by the British Army they were officially named the 16th, 18th and 20th Battalions, The Prince of Wales's Own West Yorkshire Regiment.
On the morning of 1 July 1916, 2,000 young men from Bradford and District The Bradford Pals, the 16th and 18th Battalions of The Prince of Wales's Own West Yorkshire Regiment left their trenches in Northern France to advance across No Man's Land. It was the first hour of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Of the 2,000 men who left the trenches 1,770 (88.5%) were either killed or injured during the ill fated attack on the village of Serre.
Other Bradford Battalions involved in the Battle of the Somme were 1st/6th, 2nd/6th, 3rd/6th Territorial Battalions of The Prince of Wales's Own West Yorkshire Regiment, based at Belle View barracks in Manningham. The 6th Territorial Battalions of The Prince of Wales's Own West Yorkshire Regiment first saw action in 1915 at Neuve Chapelle before moving north to Yser Canal near Ypres.
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, now a nationwide chain of 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.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article City of Bradford.