Bradford Interchange station – not a great way to enter a city, particularly after trundling through railway cuttings pasted with litter. Shades of Bletchley market circa 1976 with its tented white canopies. It might have worked at the Munich Olympics, but on a small scale it looks like toytown. And while I’m at it – who on earth decided to dissect Bradford centre with urban highways?
Did all Yorkshire mill-owners visit Italy? The same question arises as in Leeds: did they see themselves as heirs to mediaeval Tuscan or Flemish wool merchants? Was Bradford to be a city state with its own palazzo and Florentine tower?
A digression. It’s noticeable that the quality of postcards has declined in the last few years – for obvious reasons. So Bradford tourist office had a poor quality photograph of City Hall completely unreflected in the choppy mirror pool. Couldn’t someone have taken the photo on a calm day with a bit of sunlight? Would that have been so difficult? After all, it’s a city hall to boast about.
I went to Bradford to visit the National Media Museum, but – despite the variety and presentation of exhibits – I realised it wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I went for a walk before catching the train back.
There’s potential for a comparative study of individual towns’ takes on the Alhambra idiom. This is Bradford’s:
And the Wool Exchange is straight out of Venice. Apparently (thank you, Wikipedia), John Ruskin was consulted but was dismayed by the industrialists’ focus on profit.
Waterstones now now occupies much of the interior – a bookshop in a pseudo-mediaeval hall.
I headed up one of the horrible highways to Little Germany, where German merchants settled in the wool capital of the world. I vaguely recall J B Priestley writing about his memories of their descendants in English Journey. But I don’t think they left these behind:
Oh, the power of art! If these had been a real armchair and a broken fridge, neighbours would have been straight onto Environmental Health.
And, going back to the station, I found this building more congenial than the neighbouring St George’s Hall:
Bradford hasn’t had the shot in the arm that Leeds has had, and it shows. But it’s still interesting and well worth visiting.