Bradford
Population:
293,717
 

Bradford is a city in the northern English county of Yorkshire, and the major settlement in the City of Bradford Metropolitan District of West Yorkshire.

Bradford became a municipal borough in 1847, and received its charter as a city in 1897. The city status was transferred to the metropolitan district when it was formed in 1974. It has a population of 293,717 with the district as a whole having 481,100 inhabitants. By urban sub-area, it is the 11th largest settlement in England.

The name Bradford is derived from the "broad ford" at Church Bank (below the site of Bradford Cathedral) around which a settlement had begun to appear before the time of the Norman Conquest. The ford crossed the stream called Bradford Beck.

Bradford has long been a centre of the West Riding wool industry. Bradford was one of the many English towns which became prosperous during the Industrial Revolution. Bradford's textile industry dates back as far as the thirteenth century, but it was not until the nineteenth century that it became world-famous. Wool was imported in vast quantities for the worsted cloth in which Bradford specialised. Other fibres were also processed, e.g., alpaca. Yorkshire boasted plentiful supplies of iron ore, coal and soft water which were used in cleaning raw wool, and a huge coal seam provided the power that the industry needed. Sandstone, Bradford's local stone, was an excellent resource for the building of the mills, and the large population of West Yorkshire meant there was a readily available workforce.

A culture of innovation was fundamental to Bradford's dominance in the 19th and 20th centuries. New textile technologies were 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.

To support the textile mills, a large manufacturing base grew up in the city, providing textile machinery, and this led to diversification with different industries thriving side-by-side. For example Bradford's proud manufacturing history includes the Jowett motor company, which had many great achievements during its fifty year existence. The textile industry started to decline in the 1920s, and Bradford has been cited as an example of deindustrialization. However, today a spirit of rebirth has taken hold and Bradford is one of the north's important cities, with modern technology, chemicals, engineering, academic and financial sectors replacing the "dark satanic mills" image of the industrial revolution.

The grandest of the mills (no longer used for textile production) is Lister's Mill (or Manningham Mills). The chimney of Lister's mill can be seen from most places in Bradford. It has recently become the beacon of regeneration in the city. 100 million GBP restoration project is ongoing.

A panoramic view of Bradford. The giant chimney is that of Lister's MillSalts Mill [5] is another large mill that has an exciting new life in the modern era. The mill is occupied by high technology companies, contemporary design shops and gallery spaces. It is the hub of the world heritage site of Saltaire, three miles north of Bradford centre. The Bradford district also contains the villages of Thornton and Haworth, the birthplace and home of the world famous Brontë sisters. Clayton was home to Albert Pierrepoint, Britain's last hangman.

Ever since the industrial revolution there have been waves of immigration into the city and today there is a very diverse population (Figures for ethnic origin of inhabitants are given in the entry for the Metropolitan District). This is reflected in the different types of places of worship built over the years. Nonconformist chapels were frequently built in the nineteenth century, and mosques started appearing in the twentieth century. The city has been praised for its cultural diversity but on occasion conflict has arisen. In January 1989, copies of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses were publicly burnt in Bradford, and the city's Muslim community took the lead in the campaign against the book in the UK. In July 2001 ethnic tensions and troubles in other northern towns led to serious rioting in Bradford "Bradford Riot".

Bradford was one of the contenders for 2008 European Capital Of Culture. Although in the end it lost out to Liverpool, the bid created confidence in the city and has led to new initiatives. In 2004, the Bradford Urban Regeneration Company commissioned architect Will Alsop to create a vision for the City's future and the role of a "City Centre" in the 21st century. The audacious (yet controversial) Alsop plan envisions four regenerated quarters within the heart of the city — The Bowl, The Channel, The Market & The Valley — each creating new public spaces for commerce, education, leisure and showcasing Bradford's setting within the Pennine mountains.