Working in Bradford

11 Things You Might Not Know About Bradford

By wizu | 28 September 2020

The city of Bradford is well known for its resiliency and a city that has suffered hard times. However, it’s also a city that’s one of the largest city’s in the UK with a population of just over 530,000! And it’s located in a beautiful area—the Pennine Hills in West Yorkshire, which is part of the stunning Peak District.

While these are interesting facts, we’ve done some research and come up with some facts you may not know about the city!

1). The city is Britain’s curry capital: each year a national competition is held to see who makes the best curries in Britain. The competition is among restaurants that are selected by local councils and then judged on many specific features based on this famous dish, along with how it is presented.

Bradford has once more been named Curry Capital of Britain; a record held by the city for several years. The competition is set in the midst of some great food, curry themed events and more!

2). Britain’s highest water fountain: in Bradford city park, you’ll find a beautiful fountain. The park is located near the Grade 1 listed Bradford City hall, and this is where you’ll find a lovely mirror pool. This is the home of the highest water fountain in Britain! The fountain can shoot water up as high as 100 ft!

At night, the city’s largest fountain puts on a beautiful laser display, too. You’ll also find smaller fountains in the park. 

3). Home to the largest former industrial building: Bradford is home to the largest former industrial building! The Salts Mill was built back in 1853 and was designed by Lockwood Mawson. The owner was Sir Titus Salt. When the building was completed, it was the largest industrial building in the world! It was used up until 1986, when it closed.

The next year the grade II listed building was bought by Jonathan Silver, who had dreams of turning this large building into a retail & business centre. He died before the renovations were completed, but the Salt Mill was transformed into the beautiful restaurant, shopping and art gallery complex it is today.

4). Oldest concert hall in still in use: the city is also home to the oldest concert hall, which is still in use in the UK! In fact, this is the third oldest on the entire continent. St. George’s Hall was opened back in 1853 and it’s still going strong today.

The concert hall project was funded by German Jewish wool merchants who were a part of the textile industry in the city. The hall was originally meant to seat 3,500 people, but today has seats for 1,500. While the hall was temporarily closed in 2016 for a restoration project, it’s otherwise been open for business since 1853!

5). England’s highest city: many people don’t realise this, but Bradford is England’s highest city. It sits 554 ft above sea level!

6). The name of the city: today we tend to forget that place names were chosen for a reason. In the case of Bradford, the name literally means “village by a ford.” The first part of the name “Brad” meant broad. So, the name should really be “Village by a Broad Ford.” The name referred to a crossing of the Bradford Beck at Church Bank, which is just below the Bradford Cathedral.

According to the Domesday Book, the village by the broad ford had grown to about 300-350 people in 1086! That may not sound like many people by today’s standards, but that was quite a bit of growth for a place back in the day!

7). Cars were once manufactured in Bradford: do you remember a car manufacturer called Jowett? This was a vehicle manufacturer that once had a factory in Bradford. Jowett made light cars and light commercial vehicles, along with peddle bikes. The company was started in 1906 by the Benjamin Brothers.

Jowett cars were exclusively made in Bradford over the 50 years the company was in business. Having survived both world wars, Jowett ended up with financial problems and had to sell in 1954, which lead to the end of vehicle manufacturing in Bradford.

8). The Alhambra: don’t get too excited! We’re not referring to the beautiful castle in Spain, but instead we’re talking about the Alhambra Palace Theatre in Bradford!

The theatre was built in 1913 and opened on March 18, 1914. Over the years the theatre has been host to many big stage and screen names including Laurel & Hardy, Peter Sellers, George Formby, and more. In 1964, the city bought the theatre and today is regarded as one of the finest theatres in England.

9). King of wool: back in the 19th century, Bradford became the international centre for textile manufacture, especially in wool. The city became a boomtown during the industrial revolution, which led it to becoming the wool capital of the world.

In fact, by 1914 Bradford was considered one of the wealthiest cities in Europe because of its connection with wool. One sign of the prominence of the wool industry here is the Wool Exchange, a Grade I listed building that was built between 1864 and 1867.

10). The city invented school dinners: actually, the city was the very first place in the UK to serve state-funded meals. This started back in 1906 at one of Bradford’s primary schools. The meals were started due to school children collapsing from hunger.

The parliament passed the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, which allowed local education authorities to provide free meals to elementary school kids. By 1912/13, about 358,306 elementary school kids were provided free meals under this act. And it all started in Bradford.

11). The city had its own Batman: back in 2013, Bradford was being kept safe from criminals by a somewhat chubby guy fitted out in a full Batman costume! This Bradford Batman went so far as to take a burglary suspect into custody and turn the guy in at the central police station! The criminal was apprehended by the superhero-want-to-be at the city’s Trafalgar House station.

The Caped Crusader’s identity has never been revealed. Is he still roaming the city doing good and fighting crime?

We hope you enjoyed these amazing, sometimes bizarre and interesting facts about Bradford! This once small village has now grown into one of the UK’s major cities, and even had (has?) its own Batman!

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