The name Bradford stems from the Old English word for ‘broad ford’ which refers to the intersection of Bradford Beck. Today Bradford is a metropolitan borough, city and metropolitan county of West Yorkshire and is the UK’s fourth largest urban area. The manor of Bradford was destroyed in 1086 during the series of campaigns that would come to be known as the Harrying of the North. William the Conqueror conducted the attacks, and as per the recordings in Domesday Book, the manor was gifted to Norman Ilbert de Lacy for the services rendered to Norman the Conqueror. His family resided in this mansion till the year 1311, after which the manor was passed from the Crown, the Earl of Lincoln and John of Gaunt before finally falling into private possession. By the middle ages, Bradford had expanded into a small town with indications of a soke and fulling mill and a market.
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The residents chose to remain faithful to the House of Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses, and consequently, the town was granted the right to conduct two fairs annually by Edward IV. The festivals significantly improved the prosperity of the city. By the time Henry VIII ascended the throne; Bradford was already surpassing Leeds at manufacturing, and the town steadily grew apace with the trade of wool. Trade dropped during the Civil War however under the leadership of William III and Mary II, business revived.
In 1801, Bradford was yet but a rural market town; however the introduction of blast furnaces and the quest for coal pushed the county at the forefront of ironwork production. Yorkshire iron is favoured for its durability and strength and by 1868 Bradford was supplying more than a quarter of the coal and metal generated in Yorkshire. While business boomed, Bradford’s water system was inadequately adapted to serve the booming Industrial Revolution. In 1854 the Bradford Water Company was purchased by Bradford Corporation who launched a massive renovation programme which significantly improved the lives and business of the residents. Major firms like Titus Salt, Edward Ripley & Son Ltd, Lister’s Mill relocated entire factories to Bradford. While this much improved the economy of the region, over 200 factories spouted deadly sulphurous smoke which contributed to a lifespan of 18 years or a little longer – the lowest in the country during the time. Seduced by the booming trade in the county, Bradford attracted a large number of Irish immigrants. Between the 1820s and 1830s, several German citizens compromising chiefly of Jewish Merchants migrated to Bradford. By the 20th century, the textile industry had given way to more profitable enterprises like engineering, printing, plus paper and packaging.
Here are five things you can do for free in the city of Bradford:
- National Media Museum.
- Bradford Industrial Museum.
- Impressions Gallery.
- Cartwright Hall
- Bolling Hall.
Today Bradford is proudly known as a UNESCO City of Film and World Heritage Site. The city is the home to literary goddesses, the Brontës, and reputed artists like David Hockney. The towns long and rich history is reflected in many of its buildings and many captivating sites and attractions dot the villages of Saltaire, Haworth & Ilkley. Bradford is probably the only town that can boast of having its own Batman! The (slightly round) hero was videoed handing in a burglary suspect and is known to patrol the city sporadically!