Educating Bradford

Educating Bradford

2. Bradford Technical College

technical, scientific, artistic and general instruction in the various processes involved in the production of Worsted, Woollen, Silk and Cotton fabrics.”

Bradford Technical School Prospectus

Originally a weaving school set up in 1878, Bradford Technical School (later College) initially focused on textile education before expanding into other technical and vocational courses. This development and expansion has resulted in today’s Bradford College being one of the UK’s largest colleges.

In the 1860s, Bradford was at risk of losing its reputation as a textile capital to European competitors and in the 1870s, textile trade declined due to a financial depression. Bradford had to re-establish itself as a leader in the textile industry. As a result, Bradford Mechanics’ Institute set up a small Weaving School in 1878 which developed into Bradford Technical School.

The first Bradford Technical School building was officially opened in 1882 by the Prince of Wales. It had four departments: Textiles; Art and Design; Engineering; and Chemistry and Dyeing. It was renamed Bradford.

The Technical Instruction Act in 1889 prompted the college to be handed over to the local authority as it could now levy rates to support technical and manual instruction. The college was then run by a committee of councillors and aldermen. The 1904 Education Act meant that this Technical Instruction Committee was replaced by a local authority Education Committee. At this point, it had 143 full-time day students and 623 regular evening students.

As early as 1868, W. E. Forster, education reformer, had suggested that Bradford should have a technological university. In 1956, it was announced that Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs) would be developed. A Bradford CAT, the Bradford Institute of Technology, was set up to deliver undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Bradford Technical College continued to deliver below Higher National Certificate education. Bradford Institute of Technology would become the University of Bradford.

Bradford College has a unique Textile Archive which preserves its origin as a textile-focussed Technical College and continues providing educational opportunities for those interested in developing textile knowledge and skills.