Monday, 26 September 2011

First of Your Stories – More Please

The first one of ‘your stories’ is now uploaded on the Bradfordww1 website. It tells the story of a Manningham boot repairer who instead of enlisting with the Bradford Pals travelled to Salford to enlist with the Lancashire Fusiliers (Salford Pals). Click here to find out why.

If you have a story about an ancestor who lived, worked or passed through Bradford during the First World War please share it so we can build up a picture of what Bradford was really like at the time. The more stories we get the better legacy we can pass on to future generations.

Maybe they worked at a munitions factory, were a nurse at one of the many military hospitals in Bradford maybe they struggled to cope financially and were in receipt of the Lord Mayors War Relief Fund or maybe they helped to raise those funds or volunteered support in other ways. 

Please contact me if you would like to contribute

Friday, 9 September 2011

On this day 9th September 1873...

Bradford Town Hall opened with great procession but was it the right location?

“Opening by the Mayor, Mr M W Thompson, of the Bradford Town Hall, erected at a cost of £100,000 exclusive of land. A procession, representing more than forty trades, assembled in Manningham Park, and marched through the principle streets to the Town Hall. The procession, which has been described as “perhaps the most remarkable trades procession that has been seen in England for centuries” contained a large number of costly trophies, and took 2 hours to pass a given point. The opening ceremony was performed in a heavy downpour of rain,”
The day had been declared a general holiday to enable all classes to participate in the opening.
Town Hall Square, Bradford - c1905
However there had been controversy over the location of the Town Hall. The Leeds Mercury reporting in 1867 that:
“The proposal to erect the new Town Hall at Bradford on a narrow piece of land, bounded by chapel lane and Market Street, has been much debated, and opinions vary as to the desirability of erecting a long narrow building as the principle structure of that borough.”
Advocates stated it had advantages in that it would be very light and would enable separate entrances for the various corporation departments. The main grounds for objection were “that the shape is ugly, and that when a Town Hall is erected it ought to stand out conspicuously, and, while being useful, it ought at the same time be an ornament and a credit to the Town of Bradford, and a monument of the taste and enterprise of the present generation”
The objectors favoured an alternative site at Bowling Green and maintain that this site “is one of the finest in Europe. Bounded on all sides by streets which lead to every part of the borough, it is in the heart of the town, and the roads radiate from it like the arteries of the human body, converging on the Bowling Green site, as the mayor expressed it at a recent Council meeting, like rivers flowing into the ocean.”
The location of the Bowling Green site is difficult to pin down the description at the time said “supposing the Town Hall erected on the Bowling Green site, the old block of buildings between it and the Exchange removed, Hustler –gate opened out, Market Street widened and the land between it and the exchange covered either by a handsome hotel, or fine buildings.” A later report in 1873 stated it was the site of the new covered market at Kirkgate.
The Bowling Green site had 3 drawbacks “the cost of the site, the heavy expense that would be entailed in placing a suitable structure on the land, and the diverting of the direct route between the Leeds Road and Thornton Road.” They hoped that the building could be made to pay for itself by the inclusion of a portion of the structure for private offices.
When the decision was made in favour of the former site in 1865 the newspaper reported “the general talk is that it is never too late to mend, it is to be hoped that our Town Council will, even at the eleventh hour, have the grace of repentance conferred upon them and rescind their determination in favour of the ugly narrow piece of land in Chapel Lane.”
The decision was not reversed and in 1869 a competition was launched for architects to design the building. What do you think about the location and design of Bradford’s Town Hall?
Leeds Mercury 27th September 1867
Leeds Mercury 1st October  1867
Bradford Observer 19th August 1873
Leeds Mercury 10th September  1873

Monday, 5 September 2011

Military Nurses

Following on from my previous posts about Bradford Royal Infirmary’s (BRI’s) Nurses League I found a great website about British Military Nurses -
It contains background information on military nurses from Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service and Territorial Force Nursing Service to civilian nurses. There are accounts of nurse’s experiences during the Great War overseas and at home. Military Medals are described along with the names of some of the nurses that were awarded them. Interesting there is official war diary of the Matron-in-Chief, of the British Expeditionary Force France and Flanders.
I have been sharing the information I have been gathering about Bradford’s WW1 hospitals as the site lists UK war hospitals in 1917 and in return she has shared information about nurses from Bradford who joined the 'regular' Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (not the reserve). This prompted me to go back and look again at the Nurses League Records to see if I could identify which nurses who trained at the BRI were military nurses more on that later this week.
There are also guides to finding medical records and researching a nurse.
You can find out more by reading the related blog by the same person called “This Intrepid Band”about nurses in the Great War or by following @scarletfinders

Sunday, 4 September 2011

On This Day 4th September...

1880 – Bowling Park is opened by the Mayor who is shocked by the great unwashed
Bowling Park
The site of the new park, the fourth belonging to the Corporation of Bradford, comprised 54 acres. It was designed by Mr Lister Kershaw, Landscape gardener and Mr George Hepworth architect both of Brighouse. It cost £34,000 including £19,808 paid for land. 
When they first discussed building a park on this site it was derided as Bowling smoke was considered to be so detrimental to vegetation that it was considered to be a waste of public money. However the Council had only agreed to the purchase of Manningham park on the understanding that similar parks would be constructed at Horton and Bowling and there were few suitable sites of sufficient size in Bowling so this location was chosen. It is situated in the area generally known as Bowling Springs on the north western side of Bolling Hall.
A newspaper report of the park while construction was still in progress was concerned about the effect of the smoke from nearby manufacturing sites on people’s ability to enjoy the park and also on the ability to cultivate plants. The smoke was particularly bad at the junction of New Hay Road and Hall Lane as the smoke from the dyeworks swept right across this portion of the grounds. Disused coal pits also littered the grounds and although they had been filled and planted with trees by the former owner of Bowling Hall they had not grown to any size, nevertheless they relieved the district of the bare look it would have had otherwise. It had been hoped that the corporation could purchase both sides of the valley as, by Waggon Road, there is a pretty wooded valley with a stream running through it, but this was not possible and the wood and stream are not included in the park. There was however a chain of four small lakes each one lower than the other and united by cascades.  A little farther on was the cricket ground and bowling green and outside these the flower garden. A terrace on the highest part of the grounds has views of Bradford in the hollow below up to the heights of Rombolds Moor. “When the chimney is not vomiting smoke and the evening is fine the sunsets will be delightful.”
The park was opened by Mayor Mr Angus Holden on a Saturday afternoon. He was presented with a large silver guilt key beautifully enamelled by which to open the gates. The key was an object of much interest to the spectators near enough to see it that it was periodically held aloft during the course of the afternoon. After requisite speeches the Lord and Lady Mayor went on to plant sycamore trees.
Although nothing was mentioned in the press at the time a later report revealed the shock of the officials at the large numbers of the “great unwashed”:-
“As the corporation and municipal officials wended their way to the park, they were abashed at the sight of so many of the “great unwashed” among the assembled spectators in the line of the procession. The preponderance of grimy countenances formed the subject of much remark, doubtless in many cases more jocular than otherwise; but the circumstance had its serious aspect, and probably on that day some members of the council were won over to the side of the advocators to district baths.”
This shock of the state of the people of Bowling resulted in the opening of Manchester Road baths on 18th January 1887 midway between West Bowling and Little Horton.

The Leeds Mercury, Saturday August 23rd 1879
The Leeds Mercury, Monday 6th September 1880
The Leeds Mercury, Wednesday November 24th 1886