Welcome to Visualising Heritage’s webpage dedicated to heritage in the centre of the City of Bradford.
The page contains digital information (3D models, videos, 360 degree photographs and words) that have been created to enhance the brilliant Visit Bradford ‘City Centre Heritage Trail’ and the hugely informative Statues of Bradford webpage (https://bradfordlocalstudies.com/2605-2/). The intention is to allow you to see the City’s fine heritage from a unique perspective. To download the Heritage Tour go to the Visit Bradford website (https://www.visitbradford.com/bradford-museums-heritage.aspx).
The City of Bradford has a wealth of architecture designated as being of special or historic importance, with some 5800 listed buildings and 59 conservation areas, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire and the World’s first UNESCO City of Film.
If you haven’t been to Bradford yet, then we hope that the digital models and videos will entice you to Bradford. If you are walking around the city now, we hope that the information on our page will add to the experience. Some of the videos and models show details inside buildings that cannot usually be visited without prior arrangement…they are a great bonus to the tour!
If you have found this page by browsing, then you might want to have a look at https://www.visitbradford.com/bradford-museums-heritage.aspx where you can download the heritage trail and see what the city has to offer.
Most of the items that we have on this page are interactive – the 3D models can be made full screen and you can get up close to the monuments using your mouse or finger (if you have a touch screen).
The videos can be made full screen as should the 360 ° photographs – please do ‘twist’ the images around so that you can see the whole 360 degrees.
All of the digital information also has text to give you more details if you want them, and there are links to other sources of information.
J. B. Priestley (3)
Photograph of the J.B. Priestley statue which is outside The National Science and Media Museum
3D model of the J.B Priestley statue. Press the start button in the centre of the image and use your mouse or finger (on a touch screen) to explore the model. You can make the model full screen and zoom in.
Stood in front of the National Science and Media Museum is a statue of Bradford’s own J. B. Priestley. Although he began work in a ‘wool office’ in the centre of Bradford (https://jbpriestleysociety.com/biography/) he became a celebrated novelist and playwright. Works by Priestley, such as The Inspector Calls are still part of the school curricula and many of us will be familiar with Priestley’s ideas of equality and welfare which is attributed to inspiring calls for change in, for example, national health provision. His influence did not stop there as he was also a popular commentator on the BBC during WW2 and was a founding member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. In the spirit of this, The City of Bradford has a museum dedicated to telling the story resulting from that movement – the Peace Museum (https://www.peacemuseum.org.uk/)
In honour of Priestley’s life’s work and a champion of social equality, he was awarded the honorary title of Doctor of Letters by the University of Bradford in 1970. Subsequently the University named the campus library named after him, and in 1973 he was awarded The Freedom of the City of Bradford. In 1986, two years after his passing, his statue was unveiled by his widow Jacquetta Hawkes, an eminent archaeologist known for popularising her subject through poetry and other literary accomplishments. The University of Bradford also holds the archive of both Hawkes and Priestley which can be accessed via
For more information on Priestley and his statue visit : JB Priestley – Bradford and District Local Studies (bradfordlocalstudies.com)
3D model of the War Memorial. Press the start button in the centre of the image and use your mouse or finger (on a touch screen) to explore the model. You can make the model full screen and zoom in.
The outpouring of grief after the Great War resulted in many thousands of memorials being built across the UK. In Bradford, The War Memorial was unveiled on the first of July 1922 by Lt-Col Alderman Anthony Gadie, on the six-year anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme, the bloodiest battle in British history. The sculpture was erected in remembrance to those who lost their lives in World War One, and incorporated the wings of the RAF, and a soldier and sailor poised with rifles, which ordinarily had bayonets attached. In 1969, the memorial had a remembrance plaque for World War Two added to it, however, not long after, the bayonets were damaged. As a result, the city removed them, and although they were repaired, they are only re-fitted for special ceremonies such as Remembrance Day. As time has passed, remembrances for later conflicts were added and with or without its bayonets, it continues to stand in testament to the memories of those who lost their lives.
To find out more about our memorial have a look at the following webpages:
Imperial War Museum (unknown) Memorial Bradford. Imperial War Museum. https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/2029. Accessed 07/07/21.
Historic England (2016) Bradford War Memorial, including steps, screen wall and terminal blocks. Historic England. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1434527. Accessed 07/07/21.
Bradford Live (6)
Built on the site of the old Whittaker Brewery, what is now Bradford Live began life as the New Victoria cinema. In its prime it was the third largest cinema in the UK and claimed to be the first cinema purpose built for ‘talkies’. The cinema, owned by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres and Gaumont British Picture Corporation, was completed in 1930 and additionally housed a ballroom, restaurant, and tea rooms. William Illingworth, an Alderman of Bradford living on nearby Sunbridge Road, designed the exterior building to compliment Florentine Renaissance architecture. While the interior, unlike contemporary examples found in London, provided more classical influences while retaining a state-of-the-art design to rival all cinemas of the time. In later years, it would be called The Gaumont from 1950, and in that time, as well as running primarily as a cinema, it hosted a number of live acts, including big names such as The Beatles and The Rolling stones to the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1968, It was taken over by Odeon, and it by that name it is now remembered. By 2000 the building fell into dereliction; however, after being sold under the £1 building scheme, it is currently being restored to become a concert hall. And as of 2021, the newly named Bradford Live is in the final stage of its refurbishment and will re-open in 2022.
360° photograph of the Ballroom under redevelopment. Use your mouse or finger (on a touch screen) to explore the photograph. You can make the model full screen (arrows on the bottom right), spin the image around and zoom in.
The ballroom, located above the restaurant, was kitted out with decorative pillars, mirrored walls, and beautiful art-deco chandeliers. The ballroom from the day it opened held two sessions a day in the afternoon and evening while played out by The New Victoria Melody 5, and later for 22 years Billy Hey and His Band. Not even World War 2 could disrupt the dances, and on the evening of Saturday the 31st of August 1940, the Luftwaffe rained bombs down on the city, destroying the other nearby Odeon, Lingard’s, and Rawson market to name a few. Yet the evening dances continued through the air raid, and although the thud of the explosions were felt, after a momentary stop of dancing and music, the night continued, and thankfully no damage befell the then New Victoria.
If you would like to know more about this historic cinema and entertainment venue, then please have a look at https://www.bradfordtimeline.co.uk/newvic.htm.
City Hall (7)
A laser scan showing the key areas within City Hall
Found in the Banqueting Hall within City Hall, over the large fireplace, can be found the Progress Overmantle. Carved by C.R. Millar of Millar and Hobbs Stone Carvers, below the City’s crest and motto ‘Labor Omnia Vincit’ (‘Labour Conquers All Things’), a beautiful classically styled frieze scene depicts the virtues and values of Bradford.
Numbered from left to right we have:
Symbolised by a woman holding a ship, we have the travel which is key to Bradford’s textile industry. In the early days of a fledgeling Bradford relied on canal systems such as the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which spanning 127 miles and covering 91 locks, was completed in 1816 after 46 years since its construction began. If visiting places such as Saltaire or Shipley, the canal makes a beautiful walk and in Saltaire it is possible to go for boat rides. By the time this overmantle was installed, Bradford also benefitted from the Bradford-Leeds Railway, which was opened in 1846.
For more information on the canals and railways of Bradford, see:
- The Fruits of Labour
The next of these figures is The Fruits of Labour, which is represented by a boy holding a cornucopia of fruits. Of course, this ties perfectly with the city’s motto in which the message is that through hard work anything is achievable. In the Domesday book in 1086, Bradford was quoted as a ‘waste’, meaning that when Ilbert of Lacy took it over, it produced nothing at all and was completely uninhabited. From the record of the first woollen weaver in 1277, Bradford came a long way to become one of the most prosperous cities in Europe.
To see more on Bradford’s early history, see:
- Cartwright and Lister
Next along is an artisan holding a model of a wool combing device associated with the names of Cartwright and Lister. This refers to the innovation of Cartwright and Lister who revolutionised the way we process textiles including wool and silk. In 1784, after visiting one of Richard Arkwright’s cotton spinning mills, Edmund Cartwright was inspired to adapt a similar technique for weaving, and so in 1785, he created the first power loom which would later revolutionise textile weaving across the country, and in Bradford especially. Samuel Cunliffe Lister admired him so much so that he named what was formerly Manningham Hall, to what we know as Cartwright Hall, in 1904 at a cost of £40,000. Today we enjoy the hall for its beautiful park, gardens and its fantastic art galleries. Lister himself was no stranger to innovation. After producing worsted wool material in 1838, he devised a wool-combing machine which separated long from short strands so efficiently, that he was able to use the shorter strands for other uses which allowed for effective mass production across the textile industry.
For more on Cartwright, Lister, and Cartwright Hall, see:
Depicted as an agricultural labourer holding a scythe, this figure represents the connection Bradford, or more specifically the textile industry, has with land. For Bradford’s trade to expand the way it did, would not have been possible without trade with farmers from all over Yorkshire.
- Age and Experience
Behind and between ‘Land’ and ‘The Textile Industry’ is the likeness of an old woman, it goes without saying that were it not for inheritance of skills, knowledge, and the wisdom from our elders through time, we would not be here as we are today. Her position between the two represents the influence of experience on the production of raw materials and a finished product over time. As we have all doubtless learnt in school, that one of King Henry VIII’s best known acts was the dissolution of the monasteries and their lands. What he didn’t foresee was the impact on one of Britain’s largest exports, wool. Up to the point of the dissolution, the processing of wool may have been in the hands of cottage industry, however most flocks of sheep were cared for and reared by the monasteries. Unfortunately, once they were gone, the skills went with them, and as a result for many years, wool quality was poor, breaking the relationship between land and industry. However, they say time is the greatest healer of wounds, and through successive generations and experience, the advancements witnessed during the industrial period were made possible.
- The Textile Industry
Next to Age and Experience, represented as a woman holding a shuttle in one hand and a roll of fabric in the other takes on the symbolism of The Textile Industry. Without which, Bradford would still be a collection of little villages and towns. From the Dunkirk Mill, the first mill to open in Bradford at around 1800, the then town boomed. Not only did its prosperity bring great amounts of jobs and workers from around the country, but also visionaries such as Oastler, Forster and Salt They not only made Bradford a richer city, but also a better city, with improved living conditions, access to education, better public health and much more.
- Wool Trade
Facing ‘The Textile Industry’, is a child holding a fleece representing the wool trade. While still a cottage industry, typically farming communities in the winter, particularly women and children would card and spin the wool to yarn, while the man of the house wove it to material. Eventually this process would move from the farmsteads and into the factories.This figure of a child harks back to the humble beginnings and its handover to The Textile Industry.
To read more on this, see:
Directly in the middle, we have a winged female figure holding a wreath and winged sphere or globe, symbolising the reward of successful exertion and its world-wide application – reward. When it comes to Bradford’s history, it is certainly true to say that it had taken a lot to bring the city from very literally nothing to the wool capital of the world of its time. It goes without saying that although de-industrialisation was Bradford’s undoing, in its hay-day none of its success could have been achieved without the hard work of everyone within the city. From the lowest of workers to the highest of businessmen and politicians who believed in the dream and reaped the rewards.
Next to her on the right, is a youth buckling on the belt of work and responsibility. It was certainly true then as it is now that Bradford still has a very high younger population, which is to be said that Bradford has always relied on. Were it not for the hopes of young people in the early days to come to Bradford and make their mark, it would have been a very different place. In those days, it was not uncommon to be in full time or part-time employment from over the age of 12. Much of this was attributed to lower class families needing their children to work in order to support their families, thus taking on these responsibilities.
Above responsibility, we have the small, winged figure of Icarus, who, as we know from school, impulsively flew too close to the sun and burnt his wings. This figure refers to the opposing side to ‘Responsibility’ who took on the belt of work and responsibility, to the potentially hasty side of youth without guidance to ground hopes and dreams to be attainable.
- Wisdom and Experience
The next on, and complimenting responsibility is an elderly man is wisdom and experience. Similarly to Age and Experience, most ventures and development are guided from Wisdom and Experience of our elders and our own personal growth. In this context however, the figure represents almost a pride towards responsibility and how it compliments founded choices as opposed to impulsiveness.
- Music and Literature
The next figure on is the figure of a female who while holding a lamp of truth, she also symbolises music and literature. Bradford has always had strong connections to culture. Literature, for example, is highly celebrated in Bradford with events such as the annual Bradford Literary Festival. In our city, we have seen the likes of writers such as J. B. Priestley, and the Brontë sisters who have captivated the world with their words. On the musical side of this figure, it could be said that Bradford has always had an ear for music, with the first grand building of Bradford being our own St. Georges Hall, completed in 1853. It was built with the intention of bringing joy and awe to all the people of Bradford. Since its opening, although it has been a concert hall of many uses from political meetings to even boxing, it is still remembered by many as a music venue which has seen some of the biggest names – David Bowie, Tom Jones, Queen, and Blondie to name an extreme few. In fact, there was one very inspired young boy who used to come to St. Georges Hall, and listen to classical artists. That boy from Little Germany grew up to become the great composer Frederick Delius, known for beautiful operas such as ‘A Mass of Life’ and ‘A Village Romeo and Juliet’ and orchestral pieces such as ‘In a Summer Garden’ and ‘On Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring’. In meaning from the bible, the lamp of truth means that Bradford’s celebrated artists of music and authors of literature were gifted to Bradford by the light and guidance of God himself.
Depicted as a man holding a church and set of plans, this figure symbolises architecture. By the time the Town Hall was completed in 1873, Bradford was filled with the buildings and grandeur of a Victorian city, but one thing the then town did not have was city status. Traditionally a town could only become a city if it had a cathedral, however at the time it did not have one. Despite this, the bid for city status was granted in 1894, and we officially gained a cathedral in 1919.
- Fine Arts, Painting, and Sculpture
Lastly on this over mantle, represented by a woman holding a palette in one hand and small figure in the other symbolises the fine arts, painting and sculpture. Just by looking around the city, artisanal works can be seen all around, from the architecture and sculpture work on most buildings, to the sheer amount of statues located throughout, if you are interested in these there is also Bradford’s Sculpture Trail which is worth following. Aside from that, Bradford also has a number of art galleries, including the former Salts Mill and Cartwright Hall. Apart from our Galleries however, we have also had a number of celebrated artists such as, Walter C. Foster, whose art was displayed at Cartwright Hall in 1911, and most famously, David Hockney, and Simone Malik who gained a National Asian Women of Achievements award for her amazing work through raising awareness in her paintings, and her children’s books.
To see more about more of Bradford’s fantastic artists, see:
Movie of a trip around North Parade and Northgate. Pratt’s department store is highlighted, as is the eastern façade of North Parade. The video stops at the statue of Richard Oastler.
The area known as North Parade contains many listed buildings that were built during the second half of the 19th century. The first major building to be constructed in North Parade can be traced to 1868, with the opening of The Institute For The Blind. Designed by Knowles and Wick, the institute provided charitable support to blind and visually impaired people and continued to serve Bradford into the middle of the 20th century. The next significant building to be completed in 1873 was the Church institute by architects Andrews and Pepper, the purpose for this building has not entirely been lost, as it now serves as a diocesan house. The Christopher Pratts furniture shop opened in 1887 and the store was a significant landmark on North Parade for about a hundred years. The Yorkshire Penny Bank was built in 1895, designed by James Ledingham, the bank marks the beginning of North Parade. The Yorkshire Penny Bank was built in 1895 and was designed by James Ledingham. This was followed in 1898, by Devonshire House as business offices. Then from 1907-1910, numbers 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, and 28 were also completed by James Ledingham.
Statue of Richard Oastler
3D model of the Richard Oastler statue which is in Oastler Square, next to North Parade. Use your mouse or finger (on a touch screen) to explore the model. You can make the model full screen and zoom in.
Born in 1789, Richard Oastler had originally trained as a Barrister. After his father died, he became a steward of an estate in Huddersfield. In 1830, Oastler met John Wood, a mill owner from Bradford who shared his concerns around child labour. Like many other industrial towns and cities, country folk flocked into Bradford, expecting better pay and opportunities. Unfortunately, despite the prosperity of places such as the mills of Bradford, many ended up in poor housing and earning minimal pay. Although it was not unusual for children to go to work, the industrialisation often forced poorer families to send their children to work at ever younger ages to help the family make their way. As for the working conditions, they were far less than adequate. Oastler and Wood discussed these issues and compared child labour to slavery. Not long after, Oastler began on his mission to reduce children’s working hours and improve working conditions, which was soon brought to the attention of Parliament. There were many struggles throughout this process to pass what would become known as the Factory Acts and included Oastler thrown in prison for unpaid debts. However, some grateful workers cobbled together the money to bail him out of jail. Oastler never lived to see the true outcome of his work realised. The 1847 Factory Act only reduced the hours that children worked in some parts of the textile industry. By 1867, children between 13 and 18, and women, were not allowed to work more than 10 hours a day, and no more than 58 hours per week was applied to all manufacturing. This was six years after his death.
For more information on Oastler and his statue visit: Richard Oastler – Bradford and District Local Studies (bradfordlocalstudies.com)
Laser scan showing the eastern façade of North Parade. The properties with numbers above them are described below.
1 – Penny Bank
The Yorkshire Penny Bank was built in 1895, designed by James Ledingham, the bank marks the beginning of North Parade. The first Yorkshire Penny Bank was opened in 1859 by Lieutenant Colonel Edward Akroyd, a philanthropist, with the hopes of providing a service to the working class, so they could have savings. At its peak, The Yorkshire Banks reached a staggering 955 Branches by 1866, which earned Akroyd a commemorative statue in Halifax. Our own Branch on North Parade also provides patronage to with a bust of Akroyd above the entrance to the far-right hand-side. With him, on the far left, Sir Henry Ripley, also a philanthropist and politician, who personally funded the branches construction and its running. Between them, are Peter Bent the General Director and John Ward the Manager of their times, though unfortunately which busts they belong to has been lost to time. It does however remain a stunning reminder of Bradford’s past.
For more, see:
2 – 36 And 38 North Parade
Built between 1895 to 1897, 36 and 38 North Parade were designed by James Ledingham who had them built to reflect Flemish Renaissance architecture.
For more information, see:
3 – Devonshire House
Comprising of address numbers 30,32, and 34, is Devonshire House, which completed in 1898. With its three storeys, it was built in order to house business offices.
For more, see:
4 – 24,26,28 North Parade
Another group of buildings part of the 1907-1910 developments by Ledingham, addresses 24, 26, and 28 were built with accents of Jacobean and renaissance influence. This set most notably has a decorative Parapet between the attic windows of the three properties.
For more, see:
5 – 20 and 22 North Parade
Part of the collection of Ledingham’s designs built between 1907 to 1910 along North Parade, numbers 20 and 22 are among the more notable for the sheer amount of windows on the two properties. Yet despite the differences in sizes, each is adorned with aprons below every windowsill.
For more, see:
6 – 14, 16 and 18 North Parade – https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1314498
Built between 1907 to 1910 and the last of the Ledingham designs on North Parade, are buildings 14, 16, and 18, which stand out for the three large arching windows of the set. Once Again, these properties were designed with hints of Renaissance and Jacobean influences. Above these three windows, there is also a row of festoons full of exotic fruit, which is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Similar examples can be found all over the city, most noticeably on the front of St. Georges Hall.
For more, see:
7 – Church House
The next significant building to be completed in 1873 was the Church institute by architects Andrews and Pepper, the purpose for this building has not entirely been lost, as it now serves as a diocesan house.
For more, see:
8 – Institute For the Blind
The first major building to be constructed in North Parade can be traced to 1868, with the opening of The Institute for The Blind. Designed by Knowles and Wick, the institute provided charitable support to blind and visually impaired people and continued to serve Bradford into the middle of the 20th century.
For more, see:
In recognition of his work, the statue of Oastler and two working children was unveiled, though originally in Forster Square, to stand in his memory.
For more information on this great campaigner for children’s rights and his statue have a look at:
Little Germany (31)
Movie of an aerial view of Little Germany, model created from a laser scan. The mural celebrating the formation of the Independent Labour Party, and some street art is highlighted.
For many years, Britain has had strong connections with Germany. Throughout time, migrations from there to England have cemented our culture, and even our language. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Germany was suffering from political upheaval between aristocratic militarism, and liberal movements due to the merging of the Germanic states. At the cost of the movements associated with this nationalisation, the country’s industrialisation was at a general low, despite originally booming. However, the cottage and rural industries were irreparably dying out, which left many struggling and unemployed.
As a result, many chose to make their way in Britain, where industrialization was creating opportunities across the board as the country continued to profit. At the time Bradford was a growing town, and massive investments in the woollen industry made the place a sanctuary for anyone to settle, with the security of employment, opportunities for investment, and the promise of better times to come. Today we can appreciate the cultural impact German migrants had on the city, from architecture, the mills, and mercantile trade which they invested in. Yet, even at its height, in 1911, there were only 553 German-born migrants living in Bradford, to say nothing of descendants from first generationers, including Frederick Delius the composer, for almost the whole of the 19th century.
The area that is now known as Little Germany is adjacent to the Cathedral (then a church) and the vicarage found on Church Bank. In 1797, Edmund Peckover, a wool stapler, quaker banker, and financier in construction of the Bradford Canal, bought the land to build a country house for himself; this is Eastbrook House on East Parade. After his death, in 1820, his nephew Charles Harris (founder of Bradford Old Bank) took over his estate and began to build a number of good-quality small houses which can still be partly seen on Chapel Street. By this time, Harris and Peckover had established Chapel Street, East Parade, Vicar Lane, Peckover Street and Harris Street which were based on old field patterns and routes found on the estate. By 1845, the area was a bustling region for shops, trade, textile warehouses, churches, schools and housing. In other words, despite its closeness to the centre of Bradford, it had become almost a town of its own.
Through the years, its migrant families who resided there and the majority of industry and businesses may have moved on, but Little Germany remains a beautiful reminder of Bradford’s industrial past. However, industry is not the only precedence Little Germany holds. After the Manningham Mills Strike of 1890-91, the largest strike of its time due to pay-cuts and workers rights, as a direct result to protect the interests of the working class, the Independent Labour Party was formed right here in Bradford in 1893. The magnitude of the party’s formation was one of the first early steps to protect the interests of the working class with their close work with the trade unions and the fact that the working class held office in the party. Even the head chairman Kier Hardie came from humble beginnings, and later went on to form the Labour Party itself in 1900. After ILP became associated with the Labour Party, and contributed a number of its own members, the party made waves to develop education, form social clubs, to improve housing and public health. In commemoration to this, on the side the Bradford Theatre Playhouse facing Leeds Road, close to the former Labour Institute on Peckover Street which held the party’s offices, a mural which celebrates the formation of the Independent Labour Party. Although the building is no longer there and has since been rebuilt on, on the plot is now the Biscor House, it’s former office stands to the pride of Little Germany.
In recent years, the location has also featured in media such as Downton Abbey as recently as 2018.
Daxbury-Neumann, S. (2015) Little Germany: a history of Bradford’s Germans. Amberley Publishing.
Hall, A. (2013) The Story of Bradford. The History Press.
For more information on the Manningham Mills strike, see:
3D model of Grandad’s Clock and Chair. Press the start button in the centre of the image and use your mouse or finger (on a touch screen) to explore the model. You can make the model full screen and zoom in.
Throughout the city can be found significant and quirky examples of public art. An excellent example can be found on Chapel Street in Little Germany. Here a sculpture called “Grandad’s Clock and Chair” can be seen. The piece was commissioned in 1991 by Bradford Council and Little Germany Action Plan from sculptor Timothy Shutter, and, £5,000 later, the sandstone sculpture was installed in 1992. Shutter reportedly said this about the piece: “the work looks back to the past, but the swinging pendulum of the clock indicates that time does not stand still and the past has an important contribution to make to the future.”
Winfrey, J. (2003) Bradford’s Sculpture Trail. Bradford City Centre Management.
Wool Exchange (26 and 27)
On the façades facing Market Street and Bank Street are thirteen roundels with portraits of notable people
Sir Titus Salt
Morley, near Leeds 1803 – Lightcliffe, near Halifax 1876
manufacturer, politician and philanthropist; Liberal M.P. and Mayor of Bradford, 1848-1849
As Bradford’s prosperity grew off the back of the woollen industry, a variety of beautifully ornate buildings were built, including St. George’s Hall, Town Hall, and the now famous Saltaire Village. Despite their different uses and architectural influences, they all have two things in common. They all stand in testament to the success of the woollen Industry and, of course, they were all designed by the architects Lockwood and Mawson. Also included in their repertoire of achievements, and perhaps most symbolically important to the image of Bradford’s status and wealth, is the Wool Exchange. After winning the design in 1864, it was said to have shown ‘respect to the Flemish Cloth Halls with a sphere of Venetian Gothic influence’; the Exchange showed the wealth and the pride of the people of Bradford. In that year, the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston laid the foundation stone, and the building was completed in 1867.
To read more on the architecture, see:
The exterior of the building is decorated by fifteen statues which were sculpted by James Tolmie, although he unfortunately died before his works were installed on the Exchange.
On Bank Street five busts can be found. They represent the late and greats of Colonialism, in keeping with emerging British Empire. These are, in order (from Tiffin Co. on the corner of the exchange which meets with Hustler Gate down to Market Street):
- Christopher Columbus
- Sir Francis Drake
- Sir Walter Raleigh
- Commodore George Anson
- Captain James Cook
As with all history, each of individuals can be viewed differently now as to the time at which the busts were made. It is difficult to view the busts without recognising the exploitation of native populations that was endured under colonialization. However, they are also remembered as champions of their times for their explorations and discoveries.
First in this group, and the oldest of them, is Christopher Columbus. Perhaps one of the most famous explorers of all, Columbus set sail from the Port of Huelva in 1492, and he was attributed to ‘finding’ the Americas.
Jumping into the Tudor period, next to Columbus is favourite of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Francis Drake. Although known for defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588, Drake was also the explorer who found the Cape Horn Route which is the open water between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica.
Another favourite of Queen Elizabeth, the next bust on from Drake is Sir Walter Raleigh. This ‘jack of all trades’, on behalf of the Crown, had a varied career gaining monopolies on trade, as a politician, spy, adventurer, even writer. He is also attributed to the establishment of Roanoke, the first English colony in the Americas which mysteriously disappeared. To top it off, he is also remembered for introducing the potato to Britain!
Jumping nearly two centuries later, we have Commodore George Anson who is best known for his four-year voyage around the world in the mid-18th century.
Lastly of this group we find the hero of the North East, Captain James Cook, the explorer accredited for discovering Australia and other places, earned his place for releasing the first Ewe and Ram onto the Queen Charlotte Sound in New Zealand, in 1773. The sheep died within days after eating poisonous plants although it marked the beginning for New Zealand’s largest exports.
For more information, see:
Facing Market Street are nine of Tolmie’s Thirteen busts, which represent the innovation and change during the Industrialisation period in Britain and in some cases worldwide. From the left-hand side of Market Street which meets Bank Street to the right side of the exchange to where it meets Hustler gate, these gentlemen are:
- Lord Palmerston
- William Ewart Gladstone
- Samuel Cunliffe Lister
- Richard Arkwright
- James Watt
- Robert Stephenson
- Sir Titus Salt
- Richard Cobden
First in this group and representing politics, is Lord Palmerston. Aside from laying the foundation stone of the wool exchange itself, Lord Palmerston, otherwise known as Henry John Temple the 3rd Viscount Palmerston, was an example of a long-standing Prime Minister. In theme with the rest, Palmerston’s foreign policies in support of trade even opened up commerce with China.
Next to Palmerston is William Ewart Gladstone who began his political career under Robert Peel, founder of the police force, namesake of Peel Park in Bradford where he is also remembered in a statue. Gladstone later took up the role of Prime Minister four times as a Liberal and was a great advocate for peace, the economy and reform. He also reduced the size of the House of Lords, influenced free trade, facilitated education reforms and promoted Home Rule in Ireland. Furthermore, he encouraged reforms in justice system and the civil service; for these achievements he was dubbed the ‘People’s William’.
Celebrating innovation, the next bust is Bradford’s own Samuel Cunliffe Lister. Best known locally for Lister Mill in Manningham, Lister was responsible for improvements across the textile industry. Lister opened the Lister Mill in 1838 with his brother, to start producing Worsted woollen material, a high-grade woollen refinement which required long wool from breeds such as Old Leicester Long wool. Lister devised a wool-combing machine which separated long from short strands so efficiently, that he was able to use the shorter strands for other uses. As a result, he managed to lower the price of clothing especially so after he adapted the machine for silk.
Next is inventor Richard Arkwright. Drawing energy from water, in 1767 Arkwright invented the spinning frame, a revolutionary jump into the cotton industry with the power of water and replacing hand-spinning. For this achievement, Arkwright is recognised as a founder of the industrial age.
Two years after Arkwright’s invention, significant steps were also made to modernize the steam engine which was of course Scottish born, James Watt. Although he had many celebrated inventions, his improvements to the steam engine in 1769, was a driving force of the industrial revolution. Later this feat would be ground-breaking in expediting Bradford’s wool mills which were reliant on the power of steam.
Aside from powering the mills, steam had other uses such as for transportation and for this reason, Robert Stephenson is remembered as the ‘father of locomotives’ for inventing the Stephenson’s Rocket in 1829. It was this invention that started the increase in speed at which goods could be transported up and down the country.
Perhaps most well known in Bradford and next among the busts is our own Sir Titus Salt; owner of Salts Mill and benefactor of St. Georges Hall. He is best known for the creation of Saltaire Village which he built to house his employees. In doing so, despite his strict rules for employees living there, he ensured that they lived in decent housing and made it a rule that even his child labor force was in school for at least half a week.
Lastly in this group, Richard Cobden, a Bradford Wool Merchant, and politician, was a founding father of free trade policies between Britain and France with the Cobden-Chevalier treaty of 1860. His contributions to the wool trade resulted in a full statue of Cobden inside the Exchange.
Turning up Hustler Gate from Market Street, the former grand entrance to the Wool Exchange and the last two of Tolmie’s sculptures can be found. Anyone entering the exchange would be greeted by the reverence of the only two full statues. On the left-hand side, Saint Blaise, the patron saint of the wool trade and throat diseases. The former Armenian Bishop was made a martyr after he was beaten to death with a wool comb, which he is depicted holding. The other to the right, coming from much closer to home, is King Edward the Third of York, who is recognised for his patronage of the English wool trade which he recognised was a large contributor to the English economy. In respect of this, during his reign he symbolized this by introducing the now traditional Wool Sack, a large wool-stuffed seat with a red cloth covering, which is used by the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords. This tradition still stands as a reminder of the prosperity provided by the woollen trade.
For more on these two early patrons of the wool trade see:
St Georges Hall (29)
360° photograph of the view from the stage at St Georges Hall. Use your mouse or finger (on a touch screen) to explore the photograph. You can make the model full screen (arrows on the bottom right), spin the image around and zoom in.
St George’s Hall was opened in 1853 and is regarded as Bradford’s first grand public building. As with so many of the great buildings in Bradford it was designed by Lockwood and Mawson.
At its opening local, national international singers and entertainers provided a 3-day music extravaganza. One outcome was the creation of the Bradford Festival Choral Society which still performs at St Georges to this day.
The list of performers that have graced St Georges Hall in long and varied. To name a few:
Howlin’ Wolf, Shirley Bassey, Mario Lanza, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Jones, Hugh Masekela, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Lesley Garrett.
In the early 1950s you could hear blues artists, jazz orchestras and rock n’ roll bands. The 60s onwards heard folk, glam rock, prog rock, heavy metal, punk, new wave, ska, bhangra and pop. It was a people’s palace where the communities of Bradford could gather to be inspired by the world’s best music and entertainment.
Sometimes it is easy to forget the other styles of performance at the hall. Charles Dickens read his ‘Christmas Carol’ here in 1854; Dr Livingstone spoke of his time in Africa in 1857; Sarah Bernhardt, the great Victorian actress played here in 1882; Harry Houdini performed his escapology act here in 1905; Emmeline Pankhurst spoke in support of women’s right to vote in 1907; David Bowie appeared as Ziggy Stardust here in 1972/3 and in 1999 Benazir Bhutto, the Prime Minister of Pakistan addressed a packed auditorium.
Subjects debated inside the hall include the abolition of slavery, Irish independence, worker’s rights, votes for women and the formation of the Independent Labour Party. The 1870 Education Act was presented here by local MP W.E Forster and famously suffragettes interrupted Winston Churchill’s speech in 1910.
To find out more about this iconic Bradford building visit
Photographs of new street art in the centre of Bradford.
Locations of photos
Map showing location of new street art installations in the ‘top of town’ area.
Acknowledgements: The team at the University of Bradford’s Visualising Heritage group that contributed to this webpage included Tom Sparrow, Joe Moore, Tabatha Maude, Chris Gaffney, Adrian Evans and Andy Wilson. We are grateful for the help and advice that we have received from Lisa Brankin (Visit Bradford), Christine May (Head of Libraries), Penny Green (Bradford Theatres) and Si Cunningham (Civic Society).