Bradford which had fell into decline from the mid-20th century. has now emerged as a tourist destination, becoming the first UNESCO City of Film with attractions such as the National Media Museum, the City Park development, the Alhambra theatre and the former Odeon cinema (now being renovated) to give a wonderful backdrop to the central public space.
Opened early in the 21st century City park is Bradford’s brilliant multi-award winning public space, centred on the Grade I listed Bradford City Hall. It’s Mirror Pool is the largest urban water feature in the UK and is enjoyed in the good weather by local children and visitors. City Park’s computer plays 100 fountains, laser lights, mist and water effects like a maestro conducting a glorious watery symphony.
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”.
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 a large amount of listed Victorian architecture including the grand Italianate City Hall.
Just a few miles away in Shipley is Salts Mill and Saltaire village which was originally opened in 1853 by Titus Salt to house his workers. Saltaire takes its name from its founder, Sir Titus Salt and the River Aire, which runs through the village.
When completed in 1853, the mill was the largest industrial building in the world by total floor area. Cloth production at the Mill finally finished in 1986 and the following year a local Yorkshire entrepreneur, Jonathan Silver, bought the site and brought the site back to life with shops and art galleries including one for Bradford born artist David Hockney in the 1853 Gallery.
In 2001 this site became another UNESCO World Heritage site, with the houses kept to the same original style and street names.
UNESCO noted: “Saltaire is an outstanding and well preserved example of a mid 19th century industrial town… The layout and architecture of Saltaire admirably reflect mid 19th century philanthropic paternalism, as well as the important role played by the textile industry in economic and social development.”
The mill is also a place of work for over 1000 people – home to a variety of businesses from technology to landscape architecture and graphic design.
Sources: Wikipedia/Visit Bradford/Salts Mill