Coordinates: 53°48′00″N 1°45′07″W / 53.8000°N 1.75206°W / 53.8000; -1.75206

Bradford Town Hall.jpg
Bradford City Hall
Bradford is located in West Yorkshire

 Bradford shown within West Yorkshire
Area  24.85 sq mi (64.4 km2)
Population 293,717 [1]
    - Density  8,981 /sq mi (3,468 /km2)
OS grid reference SE163329
    - London  174 mi (280 km) S 
Metropolitan borough City of Bradford
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRADFORD
Postcode district BD1-BD15
Dialling code 01274
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Bradford North
Bradford West
Bradford South
List of places: UK • England • Yorkshire

Bradford (pronounced /ˈbrædfəd/ ( listen)) 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, 8.6 miles (13.8 km) west of Leeds, and 16 miles (25.7 km) 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 has a population of 293,717,[1] making it the fourteenth-most populous settlement in the United Kingdom. Bradford forms part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area conurbation which in 2001 had a population of 1.5 million[2] and is 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.[3]

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".[4] 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 with attractions such as the National Media Museum and Cartwright Hall. However, Bradford has faced similar challenges to the rest of the post-industrial area of Northern England, including deindustrialisation, housing problems, social unrest and economic deprivation. Bradford is cited as a prime example of 'parallel communities', where the population is effectively segregated along ethnic, cultural and faith lines.[5]




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.[6]

Early history

Bradford was settled in Saxon times and by the middle ages had become a small town centred on Kirkgate, Westgate and Ivegate.[7] After William the Conqueror's Harrying of the North, the manor of Bradford was described as waste in the Domesday Book of 1086. It became part of the Honour of Pontefract given to Ilbert de Lacy for service to the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. There is evidence of a castle in the time of the Lacys. 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.[8] 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.[8] The Civil War caused a decline in industry but after the accession of William and Mary in 1689 prosperity began to return.[7] 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.

Industrial Revolution

Map of Bradford boundaries in 1835.
Bradford Boundaries 1835.

At the turn of the 19th century, Bradford was a small rural market town of 16,000 people, where wool spinning and cloth weaving was carried out in local cottages and farms. 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.[9] 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,[10] the town grew rapidly as workers were attracted by jobs in the textile mills.[9]

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. Low Moor also made pig iron and the company employed 1,500 men in 1929.[11]

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 Saltaire in 1850, where in 1853 he began to build the workers village which has become a UNESCO World Heritage site.[12] 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.[13][14] 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. Life expectancy, of just over eighteen years, was one of the lowest in the country.[15] 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[disambiguation needed ] and Sligo, and by 1851 about 10% of the population were born in Ireland, the largest proportion in Yorkshire.[16][17]

Lister's Mill

During the 1820s and 1830s there was immigration from Germany. Many were merchants and became active in the life of the town. The Jewish community numbered about 100 families but was influential in the development of Bradford as a major exporter of woollen goods from their textile export houses mostly 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.[18]

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.[9] 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.[19]

Recent history

After World War II migrants came from Poland and Ukraine and since the 1950s from Bangladesh, India and particularly Pakistan.[20]

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)[21] to electronics (Pace Micro Technology). Wm Morrison 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.[22]

The grandest of the mills no longer used for textile production is Lister's Mill, the chimney of which can be seen from most places in Bradford. It has become a beacon of regeneration after a £100 million conversion to apartment blocks by property developer Urban Splash.[23]

In 1989, copies of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses were burnt in the city, and the Muslim community led a campaign against the book. In July 2001, ethnic tensions led to rioting, and a report described Bradford as fragmented[24] and a city of segregated ethnic communities.[25]


Bradford is represented by three MPs: for the constituencies of Bradford East (David Ward, Liberal Democrat), Bradford South (Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour), and Bradford West (Marsha Singh, Labour). Bradford is within the Yorkshire and the Humber European constituency, which is represented by two Conservative, one Labour, one UKIP, one Liberal Democrat and one BNP MEPs. The voting figures for Bradford in the European Parliament election in June 2009 were: Conservative 24.7%, Labour 22.6%, UKIP 14.9%, Lib Dem 13.4%, BNP 9.4%, Green 8.8%.[26]

The city played an important part in the early history of the Labour Party. A mural on the back of the Priestley Centre For The Arts (visible from Leeds Road) commemorates the centenary of the founding of the Independent Labour Party in 1893.[27]


Bradford is located at 53°45′00″N 01°50′00″W / 53.75°N 1.8333333°W / 53.75; -1.8333333 (53.7500, -1.8333)1. Topographically, it is located in the eastern moorland region of the South Pennines.

Bradford is not built on any substantial body of water but is situated at the junction of three valleys, one of them, that of the Bradford Beck which rises in moorland to the west, and is swelled by its tributaries, the Horton Beck, Westbrook, Bowling Beck and Eastbrook. At the site of the original ford, the beck turns north, and flows towards the River Aire at Shipley. Bradfordale (or Bradforddale) is a name given to this valley (see for example Firth 1997[1]). It can be regarded as one of the Yorkshire Dales, though as it passes though the city, it is often not recognised as such. The beck's course through the city centre is culverted and has been since the mid 19th century. On the 1852 Ordnance Survey map[2] it is visible as far as Sun Bridge, at the end of Tyrrell Street, and then from beside Bradford Forster Square railway station on Kirkgate. On the 1906 Ordnance Survey,[3] it disappears at Tumbling Hill Street, off Thornton Road, and appears north of Cape Street, off Valley Road, though there are culverts as far as Queens Road.

The Bradford Canal, built in 1774, linking the city to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal took its water from Bradford Beck and its tributaries. The supply was often inadequate to feed the locks, and the polluted state of the canal led to its temporary closure in 1866: the canal was closed in the early 20th century as uneconomic. 'The Channel' is another facet of the Alsop plan, envisaging the creation of a new canal-side community through its reopening.


As with the rest of the UK, Bradford benefits from a maritime climate, with limited seasonal temperature ranges, and generally moderate rainfall throughout the year.

The absolute maximum temperature recorded was 32.2 °C (90.0 °F) in August 1990.[28] In an 'average' year, the warmest day should attain a temperature of 27.2 °C (81.0 °F),[29] with a total of 6 days[30] rising to a maximum of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or above.

The absolute minimum temperature recorded was −13.9 °C (7.0 °F) during February 1947. The weather station's elevated suburban location means notably low temperatures are unknown. Typically, 42.8 nights of the year will record an air frost.

Rainfall averages 870mm per year with over 1mm falling on 139 days[31]

Sunshine, at little in excess of 1200 hours per year is low, as one would expect of an inland location in Northern England located amongst upland areas.

Climate data for Bradford, elevation 134m,1971-2000, extremes 1947-
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.6
Average high °C (°F) 6.1
Average low °C (°F) 1.1
Record low °C (°F) −11.1
Precipitation mm (inches) 93.10
Sunshine hours 36.77 56.04 89.55 122.27 163.14 154.20 165.87 156.43 115.75 84.15 54.53 29.41 1,228.11
Source: Calculated from Met Office Long term data[32]


As of the 2001 UK census, Bradford had a population of 293,277.[33] There were 106,680 households in Bradford, and the population density was 4,560 inhabitants per square kilometre (11,820/sq mi). For every 100 females, there were 92.9 males.[33] Bradford has the youngest, fastest growing population outside London.[34]

The census showed that 69.3% (203,240) of Bradford's population was White, 1.9% (5,572) Mixed Race, 26.1% (76,545) Asian, 1.3% (3,812) Black and 1.4% (4,105) from other races. 22.1% of the population are of British Asian origin, this percentage being part of the 26.1% above, the highest percentage of South Asians in a single settlement in England and Wales except in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Nearly half of all Asians living in Yorkshire and the Humber live in Bradford, with the central wards of Bradford Moor, City, Little Horton, Manningham and Toller having large majority Asian populations, whereas outlying wards of Bradford such as Thornton and Allerton, Idle and Thackley, Eccleshill, Wibsey, Wyke, Clayton, Wrose, Tong and Royds have predominantly white populations.[35] It is forecast that a combination of growing population movement, large-scale immigration and the phenomenon of white flight will mean that no race will hold a demographic majority in Bradford by 2016.[36]

The ONS Regional Trends report, published in June 2009, showed that some parts of Bradford suffer from the highest levels of deprivation in the country, while other areas of Bradford are some of the least deprived in the country.[37][38] Infant mortality is double the national average,[39] and life expectancy is slightly lower than in other parts of the district.[40]


Thomas Cook Tour Operators Head Office, Godwin Street.

Bradford's textile industry has been in decline for many years and the city has suffered from de-industrialisation. It has some of the poorest levels of social deprivation in the UK,[41] with widespread pockets of exclusion, and rates of unemployment in some wards exceeding 25%.[24] However the economy is worth around £7 billion, contributing around 8.4% of the region's output, and making the district the third largest (after Leeds and Sheffield) in Yorkshire & Humber. The economy has diversified and the city is home to several major companies, notably in finance (Yorkshire Building Society, Provident Financial), electronics (Pace Micro, Filtronic), engineering (NG Bailey, Powell Switchgear), and manufacturing (Denso Marston, BASF, Bailey Offsite). Supermarket chain Morrisons has its head office in Bradford.[42]

One of the city's biggest employers is Provident Financial plc, a financial services group that specialises in Home Collected Credit (HCC) and owns Vanquis which offers credit cards. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. The company was established in 1880 by Joshua Kelley Waddilove to provide affordable credit to families in West Yorkshire.[43] It has moved into a 250,000 sq ft (23,000 m2), £45 million, flagship headquarters building in the city centre creating hundreds of jobs for the city. The building also houses a 200-bed Jurys Inn hotel.[43] Thomas Cook has its Tour Operators Head Office, which employs about 1000 staff in the city.


Bradford's oldest building is the cathedral, which for most of its life was a parish church. Few other Medieval buildings have survived apart from Bolling Hall, which has been preserved as a museum.

There are some fine Victorian buildings: apart from the abundance of mills, there is the City Hall (with statues of rulers of England unusually including Oliver Cromwell), the former Wool Exchange, and a large Victorian cemetery at Undercliffe. Little Germany is a splendid Victorian commercial district just east of the city centre which takes its name from 19th century German Jewish immigrants who ran businesses from some of the many listed buildings. Following decades of decay there have been successful conversions to office and residential use. In mid-2005 renovation began on the prominent Eastbrook Hall in Little Germany. Bradford also has a number of architecturally historic hotels that date back to the establishment of the two railway lines into the city centre, back in Victorian times. The Victoria Hotel and the Midland Hotel were built to accommodate business travellers to the city during the height of the woollen trade.

Like many cities, Bradford lost a number of notable buildings to developers in the 1960s and 1970s: particularly mourned at the time were the Swan Arcade and the old Kirkgate Market. In recent years some buildings from that era have themselves been demolished and replaced: Provincial House, next to Centenary Square, was demolished by controlled explosion in 2002,[44] and Forster House was pulled down in 2005 as part of the Broadway development.

Bradford's main art gallery is housed in the grand Edwardian Cartwright Hall in Lister Park. The National Media Museum celebrates cinema and movies, and is the most visited museum outside London. It contains an Imax cinema, the Cubby Broccoli Cinema, and the Pictureville Cinema — described by David Puttnam as the best cinema in Britain.[45]

The Bradford Odeon, now closed and faced with the possibility of an unpopular demolition.

Also in the city is The St George's Hall - a grand concert hall dating from 1853 making it the oldest concert hall in Britain and the third oldest in the whole of Europe.[citation needed] The former Odeon cinema was the recent focus of protests by Bradfordians who did not wish to see the old building close. Adjacent is the Alhambra theatre, built in 1914 for theatre impresario Frank Laidler, and later owned by the Moss Empire group (Oswald Stoll and Edward Moss). The theatre was refurbished in 1986.

Within the city district there are 37 parks and gardens. Lister Park, with its boating lake and Mughal Water Gardens, was voted Britain's Best Park for 2006.[46] Peel Park is the venue for the annual Mela — a celebration of eastern culture, and Bowling Park in East Bowling is the site of the annual Bradford Carnival celebrating local African and Caribbean culture.


  • Bradford City Fire Memorial
  • Bradford City of Peace
  • Bhopal Workers' Memorial Day Plaque
  • Bradford Pals Headstone
  • The City Cenotaph


In past centuries Bradford's location in Bradfordale made communications difficult, except from the north. Nonetheless, Bradford is now well-served by transport systems. Bradford was first connected to the developing turnpike network in 1734, when the first Yorkshire turnpike was built between Manchester and Leeds via Halifax and Bradford.

Today Bradford is accessed by several trunk roads, the A647 between Leeds and Halifax, via Queensbury, the A650 between Wakefield and Keighley, the A658 to Harrogate and the A6036 to Halifax via Shelf.

The M606, a spur off the M62 motorway, connects Bradford with the national motorway network. Although originally planned to go directly into the city centre it ends at the ring road.

The Bradford Canal was a 4-mile (6.4 km) spur from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Shipley. It was built to connect Bradford with the limestone quarries of North Yorkshire, the industrial towns on both sides of the Pennines and the ports of Liverpool and Goole. It opened in 1774, closed in 1866, reopened in 1871, and finally closed in 1922. There are plans to rebuild it as a key part of the regeneration of the city centre.

Entrance to the Bradford Interchange

The Leeds and Bradford Railway opened Forster Square railway station on 1 July 1846 with a service via Shipley to Leeds. The station was rebuilt in the early 1850s and again, in 1890 and 1990.

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway opened a station at Drake Street on 9 May 1850, between Manchester and Leeds. The Great Northern Railway opened a third terminus at Adolphus Street in 1854, but the station was too far from the centre, and the two companies built a joint station, Bradford Exchange which opened in 1867.[47] Adolphus Street remained as a goods terminal. In 1973, Exchange station was rebuilt on a different site and in 1983 renamed Bradford Interchange and a bus station built alongside. Forster Square and Bradford Interchange stations are part of the West Yorkshire Metro.

Bradford trolleybus in Leeds Road, Greengates, in May 1971.

There have been many schemes to link between Bradford's railway terminals. The major redevelopment of the city centre in the 1960s provided an opportunity to connect the termini but was not pursued and large buildings were constructed on the alignment in the 1990s. The main difficulty in connecting the termini is the great difference in elevation: Bradford Interchange is at the end of a long slope, steep by railway standards, but is many feet higher than Forster Square. This gradient is not unprecedented in railway construction and the relocation of Forster Square Station further from the city centre has provided additional space in which the transition could be accomplished.

A tram system was begun by Bradford Corporation in 1882. At first the vehicles were horse-drawn but were replaced by steam-driven trams in 1883, and by electric vehicles in 1898. On 20 June 1911, Britain's first trolleybus systems opened simultaneously in Bradford, between Laisterdyke and Dudley Hill, and in Leeds.[48] The last service in Bradford — and Britain — ceased operation on 26 March 1972.[48][49] Ten Bradford trolleybuses are preserved at the Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum.[50] In 1974 Bradford's municipal buses were taken over by the West Yorkshire Metro. First Bradford and Arriva are the chief operators of buses in Bradford, with some routes using guided buses.

Leeds Bradford International Airport is 6 miles (9.7 km) to the north east of the city. Bradford and Leeds councils jointly opened the airport in 1931. There has been rapid expansion in recent years, and is the home base of economy Airline In May 2007 the joint councils sold the airport to Bridgepoint Capital for £145.5 million. Bridgepoint announced that a further £70 million would be invested in airport improvements, to boost passenger figures to over 7 million by 2015.[51]


Bradford Grammar School was in existence near the parish church in the mid-16th century and re-established by Royal Charter as the Free Grammar School of Charles II in 1662.[52]

The University of Bradford, which has over 10,000 students, received its Royal Charter in 1966, but traces its history to the 1860s when it was founded as the Bradford Schools of Weaving, Design and Building. The university now covers a wide range of subjects including technology and management science, optometry, pharmacy, medical sciences, nursing studies, archaeology and modern languages. Its Peace Studies department, founded with Quaker support in 1973, was for a long time the only such institution in the UK.

In terms of nationally recognised leading areas of research there are various departments such as Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation, Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, Bradford School of Pharmacy, Peace Studies, Archaeology, Engineering, Management, Biochemistry, amongst others. The university balances academic research and teaching quality with a strong tradition of social inclusion. The University of Bradford was ranked second in the UK for graduate employment by the Times Higher Education Supplement in 2005.[53]

In December 2010 the university was named as the greenest in the UK for the second year running.[54]

The Old Building at Bradford College founded in 1832

University of Bradford School of Management located near Lister Park, in 2008, was rated the 11th best business school in the UK by the Financial Times[55] and 21st best by The Economist.[56]

Bradford College developed from the 19th century technical college whose buildings it inherited. It offers further and higher educational courses and is an Associate College of Leeds Metropolitan University and is the UK’s largest provider of higher-education courses outside the university sector, with 23,000 students and 1,800 staff.[57] It absorbed the Art School whose most famous alumnus is David Hockney.

Whilst in Bradford after 1892, Margaret McMillan joined the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party. Working with her sister, Rachel, she set about improving the welfare of children living in the slums, and campaigned for free school meals.[58] A memorial college to Margaret McMillan was opened in 1952.[59]

Recent Ofsted reports rank many Bradford schools as amongst the UK’s finest.[57]


Two carved stones, probably parts of a Saxon preaching cross, were found on the site of Bradford Cathedral. They indicate that Christians may have worshipped here since Paulinus of York came to the north of England in AD 627 on a mission to convert Northumbria. He preached in Dewsbury and it was from there that Bradford was first evangelised. The vicars of Bradford later paid dues to that parish. The most prominent Christian church in Bradford is Bradford Cathedral, originally the Parish Church of St Peter. The parish was in existence by 1283, and there was a stone church on the rock shelf above Bradford Beck by 1327. The Diocese of Bradford was created from part of the Diocese of Ripon in 1919, and the church became a cathedral at that time. Many of the Roman Catholic churches that are found within the city are a legacy of the large Irish population that migrated to Bradford in the 19th century.[citation needed]

With a significant Pakistani population, Islam has become prominent particularly in inner city areas such as Manningham, where the majority population is Muslim.[60] There are a substantial number of mosques, some converted from churches or other buildings but several purpose-built. The largest are the Hanfia Masjid in Manningham and the Al Mahdi Mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

The city has a sizeable Indian community and the Lakshmi Narayan mandir which opened in April 2008[61] is the largest Hindu temple in northern England.[62] There is a Hindu temple and community centre on Thornton Lane[63] and smaller house-based mandirs, as shown in the List of Hindu Temples in England.

The Sikh community has six gurudwaras in the city. The Sikh festival of Vaisakhi is celebrated on 14 April. Sikhs travel to each of the gurudwaras in the city in a procession called a nagar kirtan.[64]

The Jewish community was strong in the middle to late 19th century and built Bradford Reform Synagogue in Manningham. This, "The oldest reform synagogue outside London",[65] was established by German Jews who had moved to Bradford for the wool trade. According to historian Shatman Kadish, "The city of Bradford was unique in that it boasted a reform synagogue before it acquired an orthodox one".[66] In 1881 Russian Jews made their home in Bradford, having fled their homeland, and founded an orthodox synagogue.[67] In 2005 the Jewish population was 356.[68]

The district has a tradition of nonconformity which is reflected in the number of chapels erected by Congregationalists, Baptists and Methodists. The city was a centre of the House Church movement in the 1980s, and the Christian charity Christians Against Poverty was founded in the city. Other house churches in the city include El Shaddai International Christian Centre and the World Outreach Church. Bradford is also home to the Abundant Life Church, a large nonconforming Church, that has around 3,000 members.[69]

In the 2001 census the percentage of the population identifying as Christian was 60.14% whilst 16.08 identified as Muslim, 1.02% Sikh and 0.95% Hindu. 13.3% identified as having no religion and 8.1% did not state a religious affiliation. The percentage of Jews, Buddhists and those following other religions amounted to fewer than 0.5% of the city's population.[70]


The National Media Museum hosts the Bradford International Film Festival annually in March. In June 2009 Bradford was designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Film for its links to the production and distribution of films, its media and film museum and its "cinematographic legacy".

The National Media Museum, Bradford

"Becoming the world's first City of Film is the ultimate celebration of Bradford's established and dynamic history in film and media," said Colin Philpott, director of Bradford's National Media Museum. "With the UNESCO City of Film designation, Bradford will now go on to achieve inspirational projects in film." Simon Beaufoy from Bradford, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire, said the city had played a crucial role in the story of cinema and deserved to be recognised.[71]

The Bradford Animation Festival - the UK's longest-running animation festival, held each November sees an array of screentalks, workshops and special events. The festival culminates in the annual BAF Awards which celebrate new animation from around the world.[72]

The city has a heritage in film production and many films and TV productions have been filmed in the city including Room at the Top, Billy Liar and The Red Riding Trilogy.[73] Bradford was the location for the films Yanks, starring Richard Gere, and The Railway Children, a 1970s classic about Victorian children whose father goes missing. Monty Python's ground-breaking The Meaning of Life and the controversial hit Rita, Sue and Bob Too, about a married man who cannot choose between two teenage lovers, were also filmed in the city.

In recent years Bradford has developed a relationship with Bollywood, hosting the International Indian Film Festival awards in 2007.

There are four theatres in Bradford: the Alhambra which has smaller studio theatre in the same complex. These are operated by City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. The Theatre in the Mill is a small studio theatre at the University of Bradford which presents student and community shows and small-scale touring professional work. The Priestley Theatre is a privately run venue with a medium-sized proscenium theatre and a small studio.

Among the professional theatre companies based in Bradford are Kala Sangam, the satirical madcap comedy troop, Komedy Kollective, Lost Dog (based at Theatre In The Mill) and Mind the Gap, one of the longest established, who have always worked with a mixture of disabled and able-bodied performers. Groups and organisations teaching theatre include The Asian Theatre School, Bradford Stage and Theatre School and Stage 84. There are also a number of amateur theatre groups.

St George's Hall is a concert hall dating from 1853 making it the oldest concert hall in Britain and the third oldest in Europe.[citation needed] Bradford Festival Choral Society was founded to perform at the inaugural Bradford Musical Festival that took place in August of that year,[74] and the choir is still a part of the musical life of the city. The Hallé Orchestra have been regular visitors over the years, as have a wide range of popular musicians, bands, entertainers, comedians and theatrical productions.

St. George's Hall

Bradford is the hometown of rock bands, New Model Army, Anti System, Smokie, Southern Death Cult/The Cult, The Scene, One Minute Silence, Terrorvision and Asian hip hop group Fun-Da-Mental.[citation needed]

Cinemas have been replaced by vast entertainment complexes with multi-screen cinemas. The Leisure Exchange in the city centre has a 16 screen Cineworld and at Thornbury, on the outskirts is the Odeon Leeds-Bradford with 13 screens which replaced the old Odeon next to the Alhambra which is the continuing focus of protests by Bradfordians who do not wish to see the old building demolished.[75] The University of Bradford also has a cinema run by the Students' Union, operating from the University's Great Hall.[76]

Nightlife in Bradford has traditionally centred around Manor Row and Manningham Lane. More recently, several clubs and pubs have opened in the West End of Bradford, around the Alhambra Theatre, turning what was previously a fairly quiet area into one that is often crowded and vibrant at night.

A view over Bradford from Peel Park.

Bradford was one of the first areas of the UK to get a local commercial radio station Pennine Radio in September 1975. Today this is The Pulse of West Yorkshire and Pulse Classic Gold. As of 2006 Bradford Community Broadcasting based in the city centre has broadcast on full-time Community Radio license around Bradford and the Aire Valley, whilst the University radio station Ramair broadcasts to the student population. Bradford's only television station AAP TV caters for Bradford's large Asian community. The Telegraph and Argus is Bradford's daily newspaper, published six days each week from Monday to Saturday.

The Bradford Mela,[77] the biggest of its kind outside Asia, takes place in June. The word mela is Sanskrit for ‘a gathering’ or ‘to meet’. In the UK, melas provide an opportunity for communities to come together to celebrate and share their cultures. Mela festivals include a combination of markets, funfairs, food and drink, arts and workshops, children’s activities, strolling entertainment and a variety of music and dance performances on a number of stages. Bradford held the first mela in Europe in September 1988 and it has been held in Peel Park since then..

Museums and art galleries

Bradford is home to the acclaimed National Media Museum (previously the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television) which celebrates cinema and movies, and is the most visited museum outside London. It contains the UK's first IMAX theatre, the Cubby Broccoli Cinema, and the Pictureville Cinema — described by David Puttnam as the best cinema in Britain.[45]

Bradford Industrial Museum was established in 1974 at Moorside Mills, a spinning mill in Eccleshill. The Museum celebrates and explains the significant achievements in Bradford's industrial past, from textiles and printing to the manufacture of motor cars.[78]

A mile from the city centre is Bolling Hall Museum, a part medieval building which offers visitors a fascinating journey through the lives and times of the families for which it provided a home over five hundred years. Rooms are furnished and decorated to give a taste of life at different periods of the house's history.[79]

Bradford's main art gallery is housed in Cartwright Hall in Lister Park. Bradford 1 Gallery is a city centre art gallery opened in October 2007 in a new building in Centenary Square. The gallery shows four temporary exhibitions a year.[80]


Bradford has a long sporting tradition, and Bradford Bulls, formerly Bradford Northern, is one of the most successful rugby league clubs in the world, winning the World Club Championship three times since 2002 and seven times winners of the Rugby Football League Championship. Bradford Bulls play at the Grattan Stadium, Odsal, formerly Odsal Stadium. The city is also home to a number of rugby union clubs — Bradford Salem are based in the Heaton area and Wibsey RFC can be found to the south of the city centre. The Richard Dunn Sports Centre is located close to the Odsal and the sports facilities at the university are also open to the public at certain times.

Bradford City football club was formed in 1903. James Whyte, a sub-editor of the Bradford Observer met with Football Association representative, John Brunt, in January to discuss plans, and in May, Manningham RFC, a rugby league team decided to change codes to association football.[81] The Football League subsequently elected Bradford City to the league, with a total of 30 votes to replace Doncaster Rovers,[82] because it saw the invitation as a chance to introduce football to the rugby-dominated county.[83] Eight years after the club was elected to the league, City won the FA Cup and recorded the highest league position in its history.[84] The club now plays in Football League Two after two periods of administration.[85][86][87] The ground suffered one of the worst all-time sporting disasters after 56 people died at Valley Parade on 11 May 1985.[88] A second club from the city, Bradford Park Avenue played in the Football League until it dropped out in 1970. The club now plays in the Northern Premier League, which means the Bradford derby has not been played in years. Bradford Park Avenue hosted county cricket for Yorkshire as well as football.

The defunct Bradford Dukes speedway team raced at Odsal. Speedway was staged at Greenfields Stadium in the pioneer days, when it was known as the Autodrome in the early 1960s. Odsal opened its doors in 1945 and continued in the late 1950s. It entered a team in the 1960 Provincial League then fell dormant until the 1970s when it re-opened. The track staged a Speedway World Final. The speedway team rode under a number of names - probably the longest running was Bradford Northern - in common with the Rugby League team. This was changed to Bradford Barons - emulating the more successful Halifax Dukes. Eventually the Halifax team was brought to Bradford under the name Bradford Dukes.

The Bradford Dragons basketball team who currently play in the EBL2 plays home games at Bradford Sports college in the Trinity Green campus on Saturday nights. The team is coached by former England under 23 player Chris Mellor.[citation needed]

Joe Johnson was a professional snooker player from Bradford who won the 1986 World Snooker Championship.[89]

City of Sanctuary

After a campaign in 2008 Bradford was recognized as a ‘City of Sanctuary’ on 18 November 2010. It is “ a place where a broad range of local organizations, community groups and faith communities, as well as local government are publicly committed to welcoming and including people seeking sanctuary.” The city has a history of welcoming and including newcomers from all corners of the world.[90][91]

Public services

There are two major hospitals in Bradford: Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke's Hospital. Both are teaching hospitals and are operated by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS trust. Over the years the Trust has subsumed a number of smaller hospitals; these include Woodlands Orthopaedic Hospital, Northern View and Bierley Hall.

Bradford is the focus of one of the UK's largest ever birth cohort studies, known as Born in Bradford. Partly supported by European funding, it is the result of close collaboration between the University of Bradford, the NHS and other institutions in West Yorkshire. It will track the lives of all the babies born in the city from 2006 to 2008 and aims to provide a wealth of data, allowing health researchers the opportunity to investigate many different aspects of health and wellbeing.


Bradford has been the scene of some high profile crimes such as the shooting of PC Sharon Beshenivsky while responding to a burglary in the city.[92] In May 2010, Stephen Griffiths was charged with the Bradford murders.[93].

The Manningham Riot occurred between 10 and 12 June 1995, in Manningham and the 2001 Bradford race riots began on 7 July 2001 as a result of tension between ethnic minority communities and the city's white majority, stoked by the Anti-Nazi League and the National Front.[94][95] There were 297 arrests; 187 people charged with riot, 45 with violent disorder leading to 200 jail sentences totalling 604 years.[96]


Only a few particularly notable names are listed here.

Among Bradford born people who made significant contributions to the arts were David Hockney, painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer, who was born in the city and educated at Bradford Grammar School.[97] Frederick Delius (1862–1934) was a composer born to a family of German descent in the city[98] and J.B. Priestley (1894–1984) was a novelist and playwright.[99] Sir William Rothenstein was a painter, draughtsman and writer on art who was principal of the Royal College of Art from 1920–35.[100] In the field of science and medicine, Friederich Wilhelm Eurich (1867–1945), professor of forensic medicine and bacteriologist, did much to conquer anthrax in the wool trade. Sir Edward Appleton (1892–1965), discoverer of the ionosphere was a Nobel Prize winner.[101] Professor Robert Turner (1923–1990) was a pathologist who came to Bradford from Belfast, and pioneered the use of chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer at the Bradford Royal Infirmary.

A social reformer who campaigned against child labour, Richard Oastler (1789–1861), is commemorated by a statue in Northgate.[102] W.E. Forster (1818–1886), was MP for Bradford and, commemorated by statue, is the namesake of Forster Square.[103]

In popular culture

In the BBC political satire The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, the Prime Minister considers a proposal to move Parliament to Bradford, as it is closer to the geographic centre of the country than London. The Buttershaw area of the city featured in the 1986 film Rita, Sue and Bob Too, in which two 16-year-old girls were involved in a love triangle with a wealthy married man (played by George Costigan). The film was created by Andrea Dunbar, who died four years after it was made. It was initially unpopular with local residents due to its negative image of the area, but has since earned itself a good reputation in the local community as Buttershaw's claim to fame.[104][105]

Bradford features in the 1983 film Monty Python's The Meaning of Life with footage filmed in Lister Park.[106] The new Spooks spin-off for BBC Three, Spooks: Code 9 was filmed in Bradford.[107]

Bradford is also in the film East is East. Oak Lane is shown in the film when the family go to Bradford to visit Mr.Shah and his family.[108]

International relations

Bradford is twinned with a number of places around the world:[109]

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  • Mills, A. D. (1998), Dictionary of English Place-Names, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-280074-4 

Further reading

  • ^ C. Allen (2003). Fair justice: the Bradford disturbances, the sentencing and the impact. London: Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism. 
  • ^ Derek A. J. Lister (2004). Bradford's Own. Sutton. ISBN 0750938269. OCLC 56460838. 
  • ^ Peter J. Adams (2001). Ordnance Survey 1:10,560 County Series Map: Yorkshire Sheet 216. Heritage Cartography. ISBN 1903004349. OCLC 63800551.  This was surveyed 1847–1850, and published in 1852, though it was reprinted at various dates with certain (unidentified) details updated. The modern edition from Heritage Cartography is 'redrawn' from the original, and titled Bradford 1849, but the railways shown indicate that it is from a printing of at least 1854.
  • ^ Gary Firth (1997). A History of Bradford. Phillimore. ISBN 1860770576. OCLC 44633113. 
  • Elvira Wilmott (1987). The Ryburn Map of Victorian Bradford. Ryburn. ISBN 1853310042. OCLC 63989031.  The map itself is a reproduction of the Plan of the Town of Bradford ... revised and corrected to the present time by Dixon & Hindle, 1871.

External links

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