Over the last decade Bradford has developed something of a dual reputation, known for a handful of architectural missteps as much as its position as a cultural and culinary hub in the North. That’s a shame really, because more than anything, Bradford is home to some stunning landmarks.
They’re buildings which locals see and admire each day, but to those who only know of Bradford through reputation, they’re almost completely hidden from view. This despite the fact that they offer some of the most spectacular architectural delights in Yorkshire.
The buildings constructed within this historic city span from the 14th century right to the way to the present day, and though tastes have changed, quality certainly has not.
We’re a proud Bradford-based company, and in this guide, we’ll share with you some of our very favourite architecture that the city has to offer, so let’s jump right in.
We start, as is only correct, with the oldest still-standing building in the city – Bradford Cathedral. Constructed around the 15th century, the cathedral we see today was built atop a site of Christian worship which had been active since the 8th century. Before the existing structure was erected there stood two other such structures – an Anglo-Saxon church that fell into ruin during the Norman invasion of 1066 and a second church which was destroyed by raiding Scots roughly 300 years later.
The building we’re left with today is a handsome representation of the Gothic architectural style. Far from some of the more overtly decorative Gothic churches that adorn the country, Bradford cathedral offers a more conservative approach, in keeping with the faith. It’s an extremely handsome building, and one that proves remarkable inside, thanks to original Victorian stained glass windows throughout.
Another historic structure in the city is that of Bolling Hall. Thought to have been constructed around 1300 as a peel tower, the keep was constructed high on the hill above Bradford, in order to protect and keep watch over Bradford. The tower stood, and over the centuries the hall we can see today was constructed around the tower. The hall constructed is a thing of beauty, with impeccable real wood plate glass windows, elegant medieval construction and an almost puritanical design – it stuns even today.
Like most towns and cities in the North, Bradford’s importance and wealth soared during the Victorian era. With that increased importance came a huge expansion of the city and a flurry of large building projects – many with important architects attached. There’s few finer examples of this than Lockwood and Mawson’s 1873 design for Bradford City Hall.
The hall, which still stands, was designed in the Venetian style, with an enormous and imposing clock tower which can be viewed from almost anywhere in the city. Internally, it makes use of grand arches and huge, sweeping staircases. It was inspired by the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, and features on its exterior 35 statues of past monarchs. Perhaps most notably though, it also features a depiction of Oliver Cromwell, making it a particular historical curiosity – and one Cromwell would likely not have enjoyed.
Join us in part two where we continue to look at Bradford’s incredible architectural highlights.