Officially the fourth largest urban area in the UK, Bradford can be found in the heart of West Yorkshire, at the foot of the Pennines.
With Leeds found only 8 miles to the east and Wakefield just 16 miles to the south, it is one of the most closely connected cities in the North of England.
With its name derived from Old English (brad and ford), meaning “broad ford”, it was recorded in the Doomsday Book as “Bradeford” in 1086. Like much of the rest of the north however, with the exception of some of Leeds, Bradford was laid to waste during the Harrowing of the North.
Owned by a string of aristocrats and eventually the crown during the middle ages, Bradford had roughly 300 to 500 people within its borders and was soon turned into a town when the villagers were allowed to hold a weekly market.
Like Leeds and Harrogate, Bradford also benefited from the woollen industry, which was woven and fulled in the town. It was also known for its large leather tanning industry. By the 15th century the town was allowed to hold two fairs, which greatly benefited the local economy, helping Bradford to grow and become more important as a town in the North of England.
In 1540, a writer named Leland described the town as:
“A pretty busy market town, about half the size of Wakefield. It has one parish church and a chapel dedicated to St Sitha.
“It lives mostly by (making) clothing and is 4 miles distant from Halifax and 6 from Christhall (now Kirkstall) Abbey. There is a confluence in this town of 3 brooks.”
Although the town experienced a pretty violent and active role during the English Civil War, by the 18th century, Bradford had a population of around 4,000 people and like many other towns in the area, it benefited greatly during the Industrial Revolution.
Even though the conditions in the factories and mills were nothing less than barbaric, the population exploded and there were more than 100,000 people living in the area; greatly thanks to a wave of immigration from Ireland and Germany.
Known then as the most polluted city in England, at its peak the city contained over 200 mills, and only 30% of children born to textile workers reached their 15thbirthdays.
By the early twentieth century however, although not brilliant, living standards had greatly improved, although the town lost many men during World War One, with 1,770 killed on the first morning of the Battle of The Somme alone.
During World War Two the town received a great influx of refugees from Poland and the Ukraine, and just ten years later, another batch of immigrants from India and Pakistan; helping to make Bradford one of the great multicultural cities in the UK.
Today Bradford thrives on its multiculturalism and this is shown through its great wealth of arts that are regularly showcased on an international level, partly amplified by the National Media Museum, which is based in the centre of the city.