Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Walk Round Radical Bradford


*Bradford began as a village by a ford.  "Brad" means "broad."
*By the time of the Domesday Book (1086) the village by the broad ford had grown large -by standards of the time- and had some 300 inhabitants.
*It was turned into a town when villagers were allowed to hold a weekly market; craftsmen then moved in.
*Medieval Bradford grew to a population of several hundred.  It had three streets -Kirkgate, Westgate and Ivegate.  The word "gate" in this context does not mean gate in a wall.  Rather it is derived from the Danish word "gate" meaning street.
*In 1642 with the onset of the Civil War, local people supported Parliament though the surrounding countryside sided with the King. Royalists sacked the town in 1643.
*The town recovered by the 17th century and was then transformed by the Industrial Revolution. The first bank opened in 1771.  The Bradford Canal was built in 1774 and in 1777 it was connected to the Leeds-Liverpool canal.
*By 1851 the population was 103,000 making it the seventh largest urban centre in England.  The town was notorious also for its' "dreadful urban squalor" (James 1990).
*Houses in particular were built in a haphazard fashion.  There were no building regulations until 1854 and most working class housing was overcrowded with neither sewers nor drains.  Many families lived in poorly ventilated cellars and in 1848-49 some 420 people perished in a cholera epidemic that hit the town.
*The Bradford Corporation was founded in 1847.  It was not until 1862 that the first mile of piping for a new sewage system was completed.  The first public park -Peel Park- opened in 1863.  The first public library opened in 1872. The first council houses weren't built until 1907.

Alan Stewart
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group


p.s. our guided walk round RADICAL BRADFORD is being held on Saturday 13 June.  Meet 2pm at the "Independent Labour Party" wall mural at the junction of Leeds Road and Chapel Street (approximately 10 minutes walk from the bus/train station).  All welcome.  Free bottled water provided.  The walk will be approximately 2 miles and involve some inclines.
(organised in conjunction with Ford Maguire Society)

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