Valentines is right around the corner, and we thought what better way to spend it than celebrating with these 14 reasons we love Bradford.
Bradford may not be the city that comes to everyone’s mind first as the greatest place in the UK, but those of us who were born and raised there, or discovered it later in life, know it has a surprising amount to offer.
From its fantastic mix of fabulously famous food to its often referenced green spaces and culture – here’s 14 reasons why Bradford deserves our love this Valentine.
1. Bradford Invented School Dinners
Thank Bradford for rainbow sponge and lumpy custard – the UK’s first state-funded meals were served up at a Bradford primary school in 1906 in response to children collapsing from hunger.
However, the struggle to get this incredible movement into place was real, and the first meals were actually illegally given out. The initiative to give free school lunches was soon rolled out nationally under the Provision of School Meals Act.
Thankfully 38 years later it was finally made a legal requirement to provide free school meals nationally in 1944 by The Education Act. Had it not been for Bradford’s pioneering efforts in proving that undernourished or hungry children had trouble learning we might still be sitting in class with our tummies rumbling and minds elsewhere’s.
2. Diverse Culture
Bradford is diverse in relation to its people, place and experiences: a rich mix of nationalities, ethnicities, gender, ages, physical abilities, economic status and faiths.
As a former textile capital of the world Bradford has a long history of immigration through the ages – and has become enriched as one of the north’s most culturally and ethnically diverse cities as a result.
Bradford is also base to a number of Asian culture and arts organisations, and in the summertime the city hosts an annual Mela (which is believed to be one of the largest events of its kind in Europe) – as well as the World Curry Festival!
3. Curry Capital of the World
Mmm, all this talk of food is making us hungry, speaking of food… Yup, Bradford is a city synonymous with first-class curry, which is why it’s been crowned Curry Capital of the UK five years in a row! The only city to have ever done it!
With its well earned reputation for some of the finest Asian food in the UK the city has well over 100 ‘curry houses’ and some of the best Asian restaurants in Yorkshire.
4. Westfield and an Underground Retail Complex
Clearly on the up, Bradford just got its very own Westfield owned shopping centre called The Broadway and boy is it lush!
But if that isn’t enough, there’s something else Bradfordians can get really excited about. It’s recently rediscovered network of subterranean tunnels underneath the City Hall is going to be transformed into a shopping and leisure area right in the centre called Sunbridge Wells. Now that we can’t wait to see!
5. Relaxed City Centre Living
This brings us to the actual city centre. Bradford city centre is arguably one of the most relaxing places to escape from the stresses and strains of working in the office. The city boasts some of the most exclusive parks and gardens, among them is The Mughal Water Garden – an interpretation of the infamous Shalamar Gardens at Lahore . Also worth mentioning are Bowling, Heathcote, Horton and Lund Parks.
6. Britain’s Grandest Waterstone’s
A truly gorgeous gem of a bookshop, housed in Bradford’s Victorian Gothic Wool Exchange building.
Bradford’s former Wool Exchange was once the epicentre of the world’s worsted trade, but now houses one of the somewhat posher branches of Waterstone’s. Michael Palin once quipped that it made the Sistine Chapel look like Grimsby bus station. A bit farfetched perhaps, but it is a gorgeous building none-the-less.
7. Nominated European City of Culture in 2008
Inspired by a rich and diverse cultural history the City of Bradford in the heart of West Yorkshire’s Bronte Country put forward a bid to be considered for the title of European City of Culture back in 2008.
Although not making it to the final shortlist, Bradford’s thriving arts scene and its diverse multicultural influences have made the city a worthy contender for the culture title. We still love you Bradford!
8. Two UNESCO Sites
Although it might not have won European City of Culture back in 2008, it’s still home to not just one, but TWO UNESCO sites.
Bradford is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film! This permanent title bestows international recognition on Bradford as a world centre for film because of the city’s rich film heritage, its inspirational movie locations and its many celebrations of the moving image through the city’s film festivals, filmed related events and unique approach to learning about film and learning with film.
Saltaire is the second UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bradford thanks to its preservation as a Victorian industrial village. Mill owner Sir Titus Salt built the village for his workers and today Saltaire attracts millions of visitors to its magnificent architecture and attractions.
9. Wool Capital of the World
In 1901 Bradford was a globally-renowned name for textiles, an industry that powered Bradford’s fortunes and drew business in from literally all over the world.
Bradford has a rich and fascinating history from Roman remains to Victorian grandeur. With a long industrial heritage, Bradford is proud to have once been the wool capital of the world. It was so great that “They used to say there were more Rolls Royce’s in Bradford than anywhere else in the country.”
10. Little Germany
Happen to know anyone in Bradford called Schmitt? That might be because, once upon a time, Bradford was THE place to be.
By the late 1850s German merchants were flocking to Bradford after hearing that the Yorkshire city was the ultimate destination for anyone who was a textile mover and shaker. After settling in, the Germans spent a great deal of money constructing their ornate Italianate and Gothic buildings.
So what legacy did the great merchants leave behind? Today what’s left of these unique buildings form a collection of 85 buildings constructed between 1855 and 1890, of which 55 are listed because of their architectural and historical importance. The German merchants from way back would be happy to know that the area now called ‘Little Germany’ is still one of Bradford’s busiest commercial areas, housing over 110 businesses and organisations and 3000 workers. Bradford Chamber of Commerce has also relocated here and the area attracts around 100,000 visitors each year!
11. Sixth largest city in the country
Boasting a vibrant, young multi-cultural population it may come as a surprise to some that Bradford is actually Britain’s sixth largest city in terms of population. Nowadays with all the investment put into the city it is once again finding itself becoming more and more popular.
12. Third in Quality of Life
Perhaps another surprise for many, but another reason we love Bradford. Families in Bradford have one of the highest qualities of living in the country!
The annual report by MoneySuperMarket on the Quality of Living Index in 2014 put Bradford high up on their list. The index assessed the UK’s 12 largest cities on a range of key economic indicators. Bradford came in third, beating even major cities like Manchester and London!
13. Brontë Parsonage
If you are fans of the Brontë sisters (or indeed classic literature) then a visit to the Brontë Parsonage is a must. The Parsonage was home to the Brontë family from 1820 and is now a beautifully preserved museum.
After learning a bit about their life at the Parsonage you can then take a walk on to the unspoilt moorlands and experience the inspirational spots where the sisters wrote. Discover the Brontë Bridge, the ruins of Top Withens (said to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights), and the Brontë Falls.
14. Brontë Sisters
And lastly… how can you even mention the moorlands or The Parsonage without mentioning the famous Brontë sisters.
Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’ and Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ were published in 1847. Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ was the first to know success, while Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, Anne’s ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ and other works were later to be accepted as masterpieces of literature.
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë’s only novel – is widely considered one of the greatest works of fiction ever written, and arguably so! It was a novel so powerful it inspired numerous movies as well as the iconic Kate Bush to write her 1978 instant number one hit sharing the same name.
So there you have it, the 14 reasons we love Bradford. Where else can you enjoy two UNESCO sites, two moorlands, and amazing food? All combined with the former home of literary greats, alongside a city full with a rich and varied mix of cultures and languages. This Valentine we want to spend with you, Bradford!
“You know that I could as soon forget you as my existence!”
– Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights.
If you liked this article, then we think you would enjoy our 11 Facts about Leeds as well.