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Bradford - The Wool Capital of the World.

Bradford Cathedral.

Bradford Cathedral.

Bradford.

We visited Bradford in February 2015, because my husband's football team was playing there. We stayed in the city overnight. Bradford is located in West Yorkshire and there are lots of interesting places nearby which we did not have time to visit such as Leeds, Ilkley, Saltaire, Keighley. We got there by taking the Carlisle Settle Railway to Shipley and changing train. This historic railway line passed some spectacular scenery. Bradford means broad ford and its name refers to a place where the Bradford Beck could be easily crossed. This area, near the present day Bradford Cathedral, was the original site of the settlement of Bradford which grew up around a church located here. By the middle ages Bradford, had developed into a small town which was centred on Kirkgate, Westgate and Ivegate. In the English Civil War the town of Bradford supported the Parliamentarians. In 1642 the Royalists besieged Bradford using Bolling Hall as their headquarters. Bradford was eventually forced to surrender to the Royalist troops. After the Industrial Revolution, Bradford became a centre for wool production. Many woollen mills were built in the city and it became known as the wool capital of the world.

Bradford was a mixed experience for me. I have developed a liking for visiting former industrial cities in the UK which have successfully reinvented themselves such as Liverpool, Sheffield, and Stoke. I was expecting the same from Bradford, but this was not the case. We stayed right in the centre of Bradford and to get to our hotel on Canal Road we had to walk past rows of derelict mills with boarded up windows. It was horrible, a real eyesore and I could not believe so little had been done to improve the area. There were some hopeful signs though as some of the mills had signs up stating they were to be converted into flats. On the other hand, the city centre area around Westgate, Ivegate and Kirkgate has some beautiful old buildings and the cathedral is lovely. I also visited Bolling Hall, Bowling Park, Lister Park and the Cartwright Hall; all of which were lovely. In short I would say that Bradford is a city you should research before visiting, so you know where to go and do not leave disappointed.

Here's where we stayed:

Ibis Budget Hotel.

We stayed in this hotel for one night in February 2015. The hotel is situated on a busy street called Canal Road within easy walking distance of Forster Square Station. Although this hotel is in the centre of the city its surroundings are a bit run down with lots of derelict mills. We went to Bradford so my husband could go to a football match and the hotel is not far from Bradford City Football Ground. We chose this hotel so we could use a hotel voucher we had acquired with Accor Hotel points. We did not realise we could not use the voucher in an Ibis Budget Hotel. The receptionist would not accept the voucher when we checked in. Our room was basic but comfortable enough. It was cold during our stay but the heating in the room soon warmed us up. I was very pleased that the hotel was very quiet at night and I slept really well here. We had constant hot water and enjoyed the shower. The room has no added extras such as a kettle, fridge or safe. I think the only toiletry provision was soap. However, it was clean and quite comfortable. The main downside of this hotel were the busy road it was on and the derelict mills on the opposite side of the road from it. On the plus side it was an easy walk from this hotel into the centre of Bradford and the hotel was opposite a Tesco, a Farmfoods and an Aldi. The hotel provided a basic breakfast at an extra charge, but we did not have it. There were some food and drink dispensing machines in the hotel lobby. There were no restaurants near this hotel except a McDonald's and an Oliver's Super Sandwiches. The staff at this hotel were fairly pleasant and friendly. The hotel provided free wifi which worked quite well. I would stay here again as it was clean and quiet. I rate it as average because it was quite basic and not in the most scenic area. Address: Bradford Business Park, Bradford, BD1 4SJ, United Kingdom

Here's where we visited:

Bradford Cathedral.

We walked all the way to Bradford Cathedral in the rain only to find it closed, so we continued up the hill for a quick look at Little Germany. When we came back down in a mad hurry to get to the station to catch our train, the cathedral had opened and we were able to go inside and look around. However, we had to do it at incredible speed, not doing any justice at all to the building's beautiful interior or friendly, helpful staff. Bradford Cathedral is also known as the Cathedral Church of St Peter. It is Bradford's oldest building and is located on a site that has housed religious buildings since the eighth century. The Anglo-Saxons were the first to raise a church at this spot. This church was destroyed during the Norman Invasion in 1066. Then Alice de Laci built a second church which was destroyed three hundred years later by Scottish raiders. During the fourteenth century the church was rebuilt. Bradford Cathedral is a beautiful building and is well worth a visit. Entry is free, though you can give a donation.

Bradford Cathedral.

Bradford Cathedral.

Bradford Cathedral.

Bradford Cathedral.

Bradford Cathedral.

Bradford Cathedral.

Lister Park.

It was a cold day in February when we visited, but spring was just beginning to appear with white, yellow and purple crocuses bursting out of the grass and snowdrops swaying on the breeze. Spring flowers are my favourite so I Ioved it here. Lister Park was teeming with life. I waited for my husband by a bush near the stag statue and I got the fright of my life when a squirrel suddenly burst out of the bush right next to me, then a second, third fourth and fifth in rapid succession. They were great, racing up trees, playing around on the grass. After that we walked to the duck pond where one hungry duck followed me around looking at me pleadingly for food then berating me good and proper with his calls when I did not have any. The pond was full of ducks and geese. I thought Lister Park was the most beautiful place we visited in Bradford. I had read reviews of it which said it was lovely and reviews of it which said it was a muggers' paradise. I did not go there alone. I was with my husband, but there were women there alone and it did not seem particularly dangerous. The bottom part of the park runs parallel with the road and is not particularly isolated or lonely. One thing I liked about the park was its sculptures. In front of Cartwright Hall there were several: the goddess Diana, a rabbit and a bull, washing hanging out to dry, a stag, several lions, a statue of Samuel Cucliffe Lister a local industrialist and inventor, after whom the park is named and a monument to Titus Salt, an industrialist and reformer who created a village with decent living conditions for his workers in Saltaire. Next to Cartwright Hall there is also an Indian style Mughal Water Gardens.

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Flora

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Lister Park the Fauna

Cartwright Hall.

On the Sunday morning of our stay we took a walk to Lister Garden and Cartwright Hall. I thought Cartwright Hall was an old stately home but it turned out to be a purpose built art gallery. We knew it would be closed on a Sunday morning, but were more interested in seeing the building and its grounds than the art work inside. Cartwright Hall was designed by architects Sir John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen, who also designed another building close to my heart Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Cartwright Hall was opened in 1904. It was named after Edmund Cartwright, the inventor of the power loom. Cartwright Hall is free entry and is open on Tuesday to Friday 10.00 -16.00 and Saturday and Sunday 11.00 -16.00.

Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall

Cartwright Hall

The Alhambra Theatre.

Not far from Bradford City Hall stands the Alhambra Theatre. This was built in 1914. It is a popular entertainment venue hosting ballets, operas, plays, pantomimes and much, much more.

The Alhambra Theatre

The Alhambra Theatre

The Alhambra Theatre

The Alhambra Theatre

Bradford City Hall.

I really did not do justice to the nicer part of Bradford city Centre. I walked through it the first time looking for Wakefield Road, the major road that goes in the direction of Bolling Hall. The second time I was in a rush to get back to the hotel to meet up with my husband, brother-in-law and nephew after their football match. The final times were when we went out for dinner in the evening. On those occasions I did notice several lovely old buildings such as the wool exchange, but I did not take photos as my camera is not great on night shots. I did spend a bit of time looking at the city hall and Centenary Square however. City Hall was not at its best. It was being renovated and was covered in scaffolding. Bradford City Hall dates from the nineteenth century. It is an impressive building with a tall clock tower. It was designed by architects, Lockwood and Mawson, and originally opened in 1873. Behind the city hall there were some pretty animal mosaics. In front of the city hall there was a large pool. You can take a pretty picture of the hall and its reflection here. There were also some sculptures.

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

Bowling Park.

Bowling Park is located in front of Bolling Hall and used to be part of the hall's grounds. It is a pleasant open space with children's play areas and pretty walks. I had a quick wander around before visiting Bolling Hall.

Bowling Park

Bowling Park

Bolling Hall.

I had it in my head that one of the main things I wanted to do was to visit Bolling Hall, so I went there while my husband went to the football. I had originally intended to get there by bus; apparently buses leave from Bradford Interchange Bus Station. On weekdays the 624 goes there; on weekends it is the 634. However, after reading that Bolling Hall was only a mile south of the city centre I decided just to walk there. This was not entirely a good idea as my husband is normally the map reader and trying to find it on my own I got lost several times. I certainly ended up walking a lot more than a mile. Bolling Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Bradford. It is first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 when it was owned by a man named Sindi. Later William the Conqueror gave Bolling Hall to Ilbert de Laci for his services in the battle of Hastings. In 1316 Bolling Hall was owned by William Bolling and stayed in the Bolling family for hundreds of years. It was lost temporarily by Robert Bolling during the War of the Roses. He fought for the Lancastrians and was punished by Edward IV by having his house and lands confiscated. He successfully got them back 11 years later in 1472. Robert Bolling's son Tristram inherited Bolling Hall in 1537. He married Beatrice Carverley. They only had one child a daughter called Rosamund. She married Richard Tempest in 1497 and on her father's death Bolling Hall passed to the Tempest family. It remained in the Tempest family until the seventeenth century.

Bolling Hall is now a museum and is amazingly free to enter. I say amazingly because it is really interesting inside and I am sure people would be willing to pay to visit. You can give a voluntary donation if you want to. When you enter you go straight into a small gift shop. Behind that are the kitchens. The ground floor also contains a great hall, a sitting room and a dining room. Upstairs there is a red bedroom with a bed designed by Thomas Chippendale, apparently this furniture was taken from another stately home and was not originally part of Bolling House. There is also a nursery, a blue bedroom, a civil war room and a ghost room. Of course when you are dealing with a house as old as Bolling Hall it has to be haunted.

One bedroom in Bolling Hall is known as the Ghost Room. During the English Civil War the people of Bradford sided with the Puritans, but the owners of Bolling Hall were Royalists. In December 1642 the Royalist army under the command of the Earl of Newcastle laid siege to Bradford. The Earl of Newcastle was invited by Sir Richard Tempest to stay at Bolling Hall. The angry Earl described at dinner that evening how he intended to put every man, woman and child to the sword in Bradford. That night as he slept he suddenly felt his bed clothes move and sensed a presence in his room. It was a sobbing woman and she beseeched him, 'Pity poor Bradford.' The Earl was so disturbed by this ghostly apparition that he only killed ten people when he later took control of Bradford. In recent times a local newspaper offered money to anyone brave enough to sleep in the ghost room overnight then share their experience with the paper. No-one took them up on it. I am not surprised just looking at that figure in the bed freaked me out. I kept expecting it to turn over and look at me.

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

Bolling Hall continued

The Ghost of Bolling Hall

The Ghost of Bolling Hall

The Ghost of Bolling Hall

The Ghost of Bolling Hall

The Ghost of Bolling Hal

The Ghost of Bolling Hal

The Ghost of Bolling Hal

The Ghost of Bolling Hal

The Ghost of Bolling Hall

The Ghost of Bolling Hall

Among these dark satanic mills.

I tend to like visiting former industrial cities. I think it is wonderful that we used to produce so much. Bradford was the wool capital of the world. Fantastic. But I need to be careful not to over romanticise; that achievement came at a price. In the hey day of the Industrial Revolution Bradford's mills would have been filled with poor, uneducated workers, many of them children. They would have worked long hours for pitiful wages. Bradford's factories would have belched out thick, choking, toxic fumes, the air inside the mills would have been filled with woollen fibres, children would have been killed or injured using or cleaning dangerous mill machinery. The life expectancy of a mill worker would have been very very low.
I thought it was sad to see the mills derelict. I would like to see them used for something. Maybe flats or even a museum to those who slaved away in them. I loved the sheep weather vane on top of one mill. I noticed the sheep played a prominent roll in some of the coats of arms in Bradford Cathedral, too.

Among These Dark Satanic Mills

Among These Dark Satanic Mills

Among These Dark Satanic Mills

Among These Dark Satanic Mills

Bradford Is Home To Bradford City Football Club.

My husband's purpose in coming to Bradford was to watch his team, Walsall, against Bradford City. It was a 1 - 1 draw. I did not go to the match but our hotel room overlooked the ground, so I got a good view of it.

Bradford Is Home To Bradford City Football Club

Bradford Is Home To Bradford City Football Club

The Carlisle Settle Railway.

We travelled to Bradford from Scotland. First we took a train from Glasgow to Carlisle. From Carlisle we travelled on the Carlisle Settle Line to Skipton then changed for a train to Bradford. The Carlisle Settle Railway was the last major railway line built in Britain. It crosses the Yorkshire Dales and has some stunning scenery as well as historical station buildings. Our journey to Bradford was in clear cold weather. On our journey back the next day everything was covered in snow. The Carlisle Settle Railway was constructed in the 1870's. The line is 72 miles long and connects Leeds to Carlisle. It is considered to be a masterpiece of Victorian engineering. The line was built by The Midland Railway Company. Construction began in 1869 and the railway opened in 1876 first of all for freight trains, then in 1876 for passengers. We travelled on this railway on a Saturday morning when all the other passengers seemed to be going to Leeds to party the weekend away. I have never seen so much alcohol being consumed at that time in the morning. The girls opposite us were downing shots like there was no tomorrow; the very loud and obnoxious guys opposite us were drinking lager combined with a bottle of vodka. Our journey back on the Sunday was thankfully a lot more sedate. The Carlisle Settle Railway passes through some of the most spectacular scenery of the Yorkshire Dales. I'd strongly recommend a trip on it if you enjoy beautiful hilly scenery. It is a historic rail line. On the way back from Bradford as we travelled by train across the Yorkshire Dales; we could not help noticing a slight deterioration in the weather. The dales were covered with snow everywhere and we could scarcely see out of the window due to a blizzard.

The Carlisle Settle Railway

The Carlisle Settle Railway

The Carlisle Settle Railway

The Carlisle Settle Railway

The Carlisle Settle Railway

The Carlisle Settle Railway

The Carlisle Settle Railway

The Carlisle Settle Railway

Train across the Yorkshire Dales

Train across the Yorkshire Dales

Train across the Yorkshire Dales

Train across the Yorkshire Dales

Train across the Yorkshire Dales

Train across the Yorkshire Dales

Train across the Yorkshire Dales

Train across the Yorkshire Dales

Posted by irenevt 07:38 Archived in England

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Comments

My view of Bradford is also, good in part,and scruffy in part..I hope to revisit the Settle railway this summer (If we have a summer? !)

by alectrevor

Hi Alec, Bradford could certainly do with some TLC and I hope it gets it. The Settle Railway passes through some lovely scenery. We did it in the snow. I'd like to see it in summer, too.

by irenevt

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