Take Three Streets

“One day, I’d like to design a truly modern, functional city … Rather than a blueprint, I’d like to design a series of recipes for how to create it, from the community to individual human level, from street plans to door handles.” 

David Galbraith, A New Approach To Designing Smart Cities, medium.com, 2017 

Here’s a sneak peek into a new photographic exhibition opening at Bradford Industrial Museum (when regulations allow). Using images from several collections in Bradford Museums Photo Archive, along with modern shots from contemporary photographers and photography students, Take Three Streets looks at four ages of Bradford’s development. During the show’s run we will also be featuring photographs of the city taken by you! Be involved by emailing them to us or posting them online and either tagging @BradfordMuseums or using #Take3Streets.

Westgate, Ivegate and Kirkgate. From those three ingredients, Bradford has grown to be the city it is today. 

Westgate, NS Crichton

It would be impossible to tell the full story of Bradford’s development in this small display. Instead we have selected four eras or chapters where the city and thoughts of what it should be have changed significantly. 

In the early days of photography itself, images of Bradford showed a disorderly community where buildings were erected or demolished with little attention being paid to planning. Early industrial growth was rapid, the population was expanding dramatically and at times civic regulations were minimal, struggling to cope with such changes.

By the second half of the nineteenth century, fortunes had been made in textiles and supporting industries. While many still lived in private squalor, public buildings and spaces appeared on a grand scale. Many of the buildings we still have and appreciate today were built in this period. The city created then would sustain us for the following half century and beyond. 

Provincial House, 1971-2019, CH Wood

Great change came to Bradford in the post-World War Two era. Although many didn’t realise, the textile industry was in decline. Car ownership had come to the masses; motor vehicles increasingly dominated Bradford’s streets. This was recognised in the early 1950s as town planners began to redesign the city with wider roads and more of them. In just a few years the city centre was transformed; to the approval of some and condemnation of others.

In the new millennium Bradford is adapting again to changing priorities. Climate change, a transformation in shopping habits and now a worldwide pandemic, have all led to a rethinking of what a city centre should be. Through a policy of sustainability and conservation, buildings viewed as ‘old fashioned’ and ready for demolition in the 1960s are now appreciated and repurposed for the 21st century.

near the Bowling Green Hotel, 1860s-80s