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OK So I've rewritten my opinion to tell you more about the great city that is Bradford.
~History of Bradford~ Bradford has been a settlement since the early 1600's but only started really growing after about 1850 during the industrial revolution, and grew to such an extent it was incorporated only 47 years later as a city, in 1897 with a population of only 125,000. Way after this, in the 1970's, towns such as Keighley, Shipley, Bingley and Baildon came under the umbrella of Bradford Council thus widening the culture and attractions in Bradford. Many films have been shot here, such as Rita Sue & Bob too and Billy Liar, hence the title "City of Film".
~OK so we've had the History lesson, but whats in it for me?~ Well, that depends what you want! Bradford has a wide array of educational establishments, clubs, pubs, shops (YES! SHOPS), parks, theatres, history and architecture; something, in short, to suit anybody.
~But I've heard so much bad stuff about this city!~ Unfortunately, there are a lot of rumours surrounding Bradford that are mostly untrue. Firstly, there is the rumour that Leeds (hereafter referred to as L666s) is a better place full stop. Leeds is the city of the devil and should be avoided at all costs. Secondly, there is the rumour that Bradford is a violent place. Again, untrue. If you heard about the Bradford riots, well done, it was plastered all over the telly. You couldn't have missed them (and besides, most of the NF was visiting from other cities, not Bradford and so the riots had very little to actual Bradfordians) But what about the L666s riots? They got the last spot on the local radio news. Unfair media slant? I think so. A thrid misconception is that Bradford is full of flat caps and whippets so to speak. Bradford is actually buzzing, and is one of the most diverse cutural cities in the world and most of the time everyone gets on in harmony. Hope that cleared things up a little ;)
~Go on then, convince me~ If Bradford isn't a decent place, why are there so many hotels? People must, therefore want to visit (for reasons outlined below). We have many big hotel names, such as Hilton, Quality and Hanover, and also smaller guest-houses such as Dubrovnik, Cherry Tree Lodge and Howard House.
~So what EXACTLY can I see?~ Read on!
~Architecture~ "Bradford used to have the finest display of Victorian architecture in the country, not that you'd think it now" -Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island First thing to say to that is, What a load of bollocks! I am now going to take you on the RICHARD KILLIP VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE ARCHITECTURE OF BRADFORD CITY CENTRE, which, should you ever visit, I suggest you follow and look for yourself.
1) Place yourself in Centenery Square and notice the CITY HALL in front of you, or behind you, or to your right or left, dependant on which way you are looking. Look towards City Hall so it is in front of you. Notice the attention to detail, the carvings of the Kings and Queens of England on the walls and the italienette spier.
2) Turn Left and walk onto MARKET STREET (cross over BRIDGE STREET and walk forward past the apartments). On your left is a Dillons bookstore in the same building as a Boots, Birthdays, Virgin Megastore, KFC and Kelly Recruitment Services. This building used to be Brown, Muff & Company Limited and later Rackhams. Notice the fine architectural detail and careful restoration.
3) Continue along MARKET STREET and notice, on your left, the magnificent WOOL EXCHANGE, now a Waterstones bookstore and also housing a Thorntons, newsagency, Bryars curtains, card shop, candle shop, Marios hairdressing and other delights. Notice the heads of various revolutionaries carved into the side of the building.
4) Continue along MARKET STREET and turn left up HUSTLERGATE past Llods TSB Bank. Walk past the back of Waterstones and past Starbucks. Turn RIGHT up DARLEY ST and notice the NATIONAL WESTMINSTER BANK, yes, the NATIONAL WESTMINSTER BANK! Around the side of this fine building are many gargoyles and other carvings. Inside the roof is decorated with the coats of arms of the families of the founders of the Bradford District Bank and also the coats of Arms of Bradford.
5) Continue up DARLEY STREET and turn left along KIRKGATE past the KIRKGATE SHOPPING CENTRE. Continue Straight ahead notice SUNWIN HOUSE, a.k.a. THE EMPORIUM. This was built in the 1930's and is pretty impressive, if only for the Co-Op stamps you can redeem off your telly :).
6) Turn Left down Godwin St or Sunbridge Rd (I can't remember which one it is - anyway, towards JMC) and notice the ODEON Cinema on your right (A.K.A. the Gaumont). Notice the twin towers (no pun intended) and beautiful architecture.
7) Carry on along this road and on your right again notice the ALHAMBRA THEATRE, another 30's concoction restored in the 80's. Notice what you want on this, I'm bored with writing a tour.
If I could have been bothered, I'd have told you about the rest, St Georges Hall, Bradford Cathedral (Church of St Peter), the whole top of town and whatever else I've missed out. Pick up an architecture tour from the Information bureau in the Town Hall.
~Museums~ Ah, a fresh subject! Bradford has many museums in the district with a wide and varied approach to displaying the information. Here are my favourites: National Museum of Photography, Film & Television - depicting the life of celluloid from the beginning through to the end. Here you can present the news, fly on a magic carpet and much, much more. This is my favourite, and worth a look! Bradford Colour Museum - Run by the Association of Dyers and Colourers this is the UK's only museum soley on the theme of colour. In this museum you can learn about different dying methods, find out why you see some colours better than others and not lose too much of your wallet in the process. Bradford Museum of Industry and Houses at Work - This is Beamish on a small scale! The first thing you see as you enter this open-air museum is a row of Mill Houses in which you can look through the windows and from a viewing Balcony upstairs! Also you can see horses at work, look inside a train, tram/trolley bus, look in the mill-owners house and a lot more! Bolling Hall Museum - This is a house once owned by, I believe, the owners of Bowling Park; well; some very rich people any way. You can see how they lived, which, in fact, is very interesting Bronte Parsonage Museum - In the supposed Bronte Country in Haworth, although the Bronte Sisters were actually born in Thornton. Yep, work it out for yourself but this is the museum featured on Rita Sue and Bob too and is the home of the Bronte Sisters And many more - There are also many more museums across the district, but the ones listed are the best and the ones I'd suggest seeing first.
~Theatre~ Bradford has one of the best theatres in Europe - and a few more aswell worth looking at. Here are most of them, in no particular order: Alhambra Theatre: The premier theatre in the North of England and nominated as one of the best in Europe, this theatre has the best panto in the country and has all the West-end productions lining up to come here. The Priestly centre for the Arts (formerly BRADFORD PLAYHOUSE) - This cinema is much smaller than the Alhambra and has critically acclaimed comedies and dramas on all year round - but get in early if you want a ticket! The Studio - this is another small theatre and is round the back of the Alhambra, and is also run by the Alhambra, but is much more informal. They don't serve food, but do sell peanuts, ice cream and the like. Tickets are, thankfully, less than the Alhambra. St Georges Hall - this is really a concert hall and has lots of musicals on, such as Fiddler on the Roof, the Blues Brothers and Annie, and also some amateur performances from groups across the district - all for a reasonable sum.
~Countryside~ Yep, the industrial city of Bradford has COUNTRYSIDE within the district! Places to note are Ilkley, Baildon and Shipley Glen. If you're into rock climbing and stuff, Ilkley Moor's the place to go for the COW & CALF rocks, which are apparantly brilliant for climbing. Shipley Glen's more for a gentle stroll and Baildon Moor's more for if you want a drive through the country but not too far away from a city!
~Nightlife~ Don't let ANYONE, even a Bradfordian, con you into thinking Bradford has a shit nightlife! Especially since the people that do either a) have never been clubbing in Bradford and go to Leeds/Halifax instead or b) have never been clubbing at all but are going off what people in category a) have said. The club scene in Bradford is actually what anyone would expect in a city of its size and includes many clubs which I'll list with a short explanation: Rios: Favoured by the moshers and goths of the town, this club is full of rock music and sticky floors. Queens Hall - Three floors of music with theme nights and an "ITS A SCREAM" club - a bit cheesy but fun :) Red Square - this is a Vodka bar serving about 500 (OK maybe 40) kinds of Vodka and as many mixers as imaginable Love Apple - OK so this is really a cafe but has entertainment on a night - rock mostly Lingards - don't go there, see op Penningtons - Favoured by the, erm, older, people of the city, this club has a teen night called TeenScene - that really isn't a good sign JB's - this is the club favoured by the players of the BRADFORD BULLS - also a wine bar. Pretty tasteful so I hear Milk Bar - aside from the name it's meant to be pretty good but I've never been, could have thought of a better name though. sub:Lime (formerly Juice) - full of Teeny Boppers and dance music. Not reccomended. There are a couple more, but nothing special.
~Cinemas~ To say Bradford is City of Film, it is substantially short on cinemas. By Cinemas, I mean run-of-the-mill Odeons or ABC's traditional cinemas - although we used to have an Odeon, an ABC and I think a Ritz in the City Centre. Nowadays, we have this: Odeon - No longer a three screener in the city centre but a 10-screen multiplex in Thornbury, Bradford. IMAX Cinema - the first of its kind in the UK and I believe the biggest - the IMAX is a 3D cinema showing all kinds of films Cubby Brocoli Cinema - Located within the Nat'l Museum of Photography, Film and Television, this cinema shows various films from history. Pictureville Cinema - the only place still to show This is Cinerama
~Art Galleries~ No matter how cultural Bradford is, one thing it doesn't have a lot of is Art Galleries. In fact, I can only think of one and that's Cartwright Hall, located in lister Park. Even if we don't have a lot, the one we do have is bloody good to make up for it and is well worth a look.
~Restaurants~ Bradford has a wide range of restaurants in many styles. Here are my favourites for each style. Each one of these is unique in its own way and definately warrants a visit
INDIAN Yes, this is what Bradford is renowned for. CURRY! Under the category "Indian", I also mean Kashmiri and Pakistani, but hey its all Curry and these are my favourites: Kashmir - By far the best Curry in Bradford. Theres an upstairs and a downstairs - the upstairs is expensive and the downstairs cheap, but its the same curry. They don't serve alcohol but you can bring your own. Mumtaz - Nice curry but they treat you like shit. No alcohol, served or otherwise. Sweet Centre - Nice. Aagrah - Lovely Curry, Lovely people, and alcohol! Nawaab - Lovely curry but a makes your wallet a bit light. Alcohol served. Akhbars - The most famous restaurant in Bradford supposedly, though I can't see why. Expensive and Crap - and you can't smoke at your table.
MEXICAN Theres no competition for this - Cocina on Manningham Lane.
ITALIAN Da Tonino's - lovely food, nice people. The Ital - Food to die for but your wallet probably will :(
CHINESE Pan Choice - lovely people and great food
Please note, here I have listed restaurants only and there are more. If its a chinese takeaway, Indian takeaway or Pizza joint you're after, just look on the street corner!
~Shopping~ Ah, shopping! People's main gripe with the city which is why I love writing about it so much! Shopping in Bradford is perfectly fine and I buy all my things there - and NEVER need a trip out to Leeds to buy anything. Just open your eyes and you'll see what I mean. We have nearly all the chain shops - Top ShHop/Top Man, Next, Bay Trading Co, Ciro Citterio and loads more. Admittedly, we have only one department store, Sunwin House, but who wants a bloody Debenhams or House of Fraser anyway? Chain department stores are crap, have no character and I avoid them at all costs. Sunwin House, however, has that feeling of a department store that can't be recreated anywhere else. Sunwin House, this is the original one, is worth a look for definate and has everything House of Fraser and Debenham's don't. Other shops to look out for are, Christopher Pratts, HR Jacksons and Oxtobys.
~Hotels~ OK, so now I've convinced you to come to this great city, you're gonna need somewhere to stay and no, you can't kip on my sofa! Bradford has a vast array of both chain and characterful hotels, and the best are detailed on this list:
HILTON BRADFORD, Hall Ings - Part of the Hilton Chain QUALITY VICTORIA HOTEL, Bridge St - Part of the Quality Chain HANOVER INT'L HOTEL & CLUB (Formery Cedar Court), M606 - Part of Hanover chain MIDLAND HOTEL, Manor Row - Part of Premier Hotels Chain
We also have plenty of independant hotels and guest houses - the best bet is to look in the Yellow Pages or Phone book and see which suits you best.
~Transport~ OK, so you've sorted out what you're gonna do and see and where you're gonna stay. Now all you've got to do is decide a) how you're going to get here and b) how you're going to get around. I'll address a) first.
HOW TO GET TO BRADFORD: How many ways are there to skin a cat? I don't know either, but there are many ways to get to Bradford:
BY AIR Yep, Leeds/Bradford International Aiport is certainly one of the options on the list - small, friendly and a connection straight through to Bradford.
BY CAR Depending on where you live depends on how to get to Bradford.
-From North North England or Scotland- Take your regular path to Manchester and take the M62 Eastbound towards Hull. Take the M606 (Exit 22 I think) to Bradford. -From South England/Wales- Take the M1 Northbound to Leeds then the M62 Westbound towards Manchester. Take Exit 22 (again, I'm not sure) to the M606 to Bradford. -From East or West- Take the M62 in the opposite direction to where you live and junction 22 M606.
BY BUS/COACH Buses and Coaches from various major cities to Leeds or Bradford.
BY TRAIN Bradford Centre is serviced by two mainline stations, and there are also stations in other parts of the district such as Shipley, Cottingley, Keighley, Frizinghall and Crossflats.
OK, so I hope that this opinion has been informative for you and helped influence your decision of where to go for a weekend getaway or whatever. Seriously, there's so much to do and I'd be surprised if you can fit it all in.
I'm a latecomer to this site but I'd like to make the following observation.Why do people,when writing in praise of Bradford claim that Ilkley is part of that city. The only thing connecting Ilkley to Bradford is that the citizens of that fair town are obliged to pay their council tax to Bradford.I believe Ilkley has more in common with Harrogate.
BJEEE 23.10.2001 15:48
I don't remember what the original was like, but the update is EXCELLENT!! Well done. Ben
LMcShera 21.08.2001 11:16
Aside from being upset that negative and poorer written ops get more reads and VH ratings, I think there should be a balance of opinions - who wants 14 negative ops and 2 positive ops? We want to read both sides of an argument, and also people should rate opinions according to how helpful they are NOT how much we agree with them...that's why I got my sister and girlfriend to read and rate your opinion. In the interests of the fair depiction of our wicked town I hope people take note. Cheers, keep up the good work. Liam