With finally reaching double figures, this book being my tenth publication with Amberley Publishing, it seems fitting that I focus on the very city I was born in. As a child, one of my favourite pastimes was exploring old buildings; in particular the old Baird Television works near Artic Parade off of Great Horton Road. The building was full of oscilloscopes and various electrical equipment on what seemed like hundreds of work benches stretching as far as the eye could see. How I wish I had taken pictures now.
Interestingly, Artic Parade I was to learn later was the very road my Grandmother as a young girl would walk down in all weathers in her clogs on the cobbles to her place of work at Cannon Mills. Bradford as we know is famous for its worsted cloth industry which is reflected in this book by the various mills included. In addition I have tried to balance the contents with other locations such as cinemas, churches and even a mortuary chapel. When choosing the title it was difficult to choose between hidden or secret Bradford. In the end I decided to go with secret Bradford in the sense many of the locations will be new to the reader whilst others have been photographed from angles previously unseen.
The reality is this book is full of ghosts. Many of the images were taken in the previous four years, and of buildings that are no longer there or have been altered. Certainly as time passes, and given the fragile nature of change the majority of the locations will disappear. The reader will note the common theme that runs through the pages. Bradford is incredibly unlucky with regards to instantaneous fires destroying the workplaces, and leisure facilities of our fathers and grandfathers. Fire as we know when unchecked takes no prisoners; hence many of the places affected were demolished immediately after rendering grade II listing of no value. My intention with this book was to create a lasting record of locations important at a time when industry and manufacturing was king. Just like I research locations from Victorian and Edwardian photographs now, I would like to think my work here will be a point of reference in another century from now. Although potentially depressing to see our heritage being swallowed up by fire and demolition, there is without a doubt a beacon of light beginning to illuminate Bradford again.
After years of stagnating, great things are beginning to happen, and with that comes major investment. In 2014, Bradford represents a multicultural society on the up. If you thought Bradford was over, then think again.