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Nestling in the foothills of the Pennines, Bradford is a city with a fascinating story, rising to prominence in the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture, particularly wool, which was facilitated by the area’s access to a supply of coal, iron ore and soft water. Today, there are signs of Bradford’s rich industrial past, and booming population as workers flocked to West Yorkshire, everywhere you look, with a large amount of listed Victorian architecture. The grand Italianate City Hall is one of the city’s most prize landmarks.
Bradford’s oldest building is the cathedral. Few other Medieval buildings have survived, apart from Bolling Hall, which has been preserved as a museum. The city’s main art gallery is housed in the grand Edwardian Cartwright Hall, while the National Science and Media Museum is the most visited museum outside London. It contains an IMAX cinema, the Cubby Broccoli Cinema and the Pictureville Cinema, often described as one of the best cinemas in Britain. Bradford has emerged as a tourist destination in recent years, becoming the first UNESCO City of Film, while the Bradford Alhambra frequently stages hit West End and Broadway musicals. Within the city district, there are also 37 parks and gardens – Lister Park, with its boating lake and water gardens, was voted Britain’s Best Park for 2006, while Bowling Park is the site of the annual Bradford Carnival, celebrating local African and Caribbean culture.
Bradford is well-served by a good transport system and is accessed by several trunk roads – the A647 between Leeds and Halifax, the A650 between Wakefield and Keighley, the A658 to Harrogate, and the A6036 to Halifax via Shelf. The M62 motorway connects the city to the national motorway network, while Bradford Interchange serves the city’s rail users. First Bradford and Arriva are the chief operators of buses in Bradford, with some routes using guided buses. And for those looking to travel via air, Leeds Bradford International Airport is only six miles out of the city centre. It has enjoyed rapid expansion in the last few years, and is the home base of economy airline Jet2.com.
Other companies that have headquarters in the city include Yorkshire Building Society and Morrison Supermarkets, which employs more than 5,000 people in Bradford. Provident Financial has been based in the city since 1880, while the British Wool Marketing Board opened its headquarters here in 2012. The city suffered from deindustrialisation but the economy has diversified, notably with several major finance companies taking residence in this part of the country. There are also strong connections with the chemicals industry (BASF, Nufarm UK), electronics (Arris International, Filtronic), engineering (NG Bailey, Powell Switchgear), and manufacturing (Hallmark Cards, Seabrook Potato Crisps).
Educationally, Bradford Grammar School has a good reputation – it was re-established by Royal Charter as the Free Grammar School of Charles 11 in 1662. The University of Bradford has over 10,000 students and can be traced back to the 1860s when it was founded as the Bradford Schools of Weaving, Design and Building. It now covers a wide range of subjects including medical sciences, archaeology and modern languages. In 2010, the university was named the greenest in the UK for the second year running. What’s more, Bradford College offers further and higher educational courses and is one of the UK’s largest providers outside the university sector, with 23,000 students and 1,800 staff. Its most famous alumnus is painter, printmaker and photographer, David Hockney.
With an overall average house price of £133,251, the majority of sales in Bradford are terraced properties, selling for an average price of £98,073 last year. This reflects an increase of 4 per cent on the previous year.
If you like your hot and spicy food, Bradford is frequently crowned the curry capital of Britain!