City Of The Future
The post-Second World War period brought a desire for change. Advances in the use of concrete and other building materials, along with the fashion for modernist styles in architecture, led Bradford’s planners to look towards more radical changes to the city centre. While not everyone agreed, it was generally accepted that the dramatic increase in car ownership and use meant that older sections of the city were no longer fit for purpose.
At this time numbers of displaced people from Central and Eastern Europe came to live and work in Bradford. Employment and permanent settlement became possible through unfilled jobs in the textile industry. Later post-war migration brought people from the Caribbean, India and Pakistan to Bradford.
“The contribution made by South Asian migrants to Bradford’s textile industry cannot be underestimated.”
Migrant Workers & the Yorkshire Textile Industry: Bradford from 1820-1967, saltairecollection.org
A busy, modern 20th century Bradford needed improved public transport links, and bigger modern buildings to attract businesses. ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ was certainly the spirit of the age.
Stanley Gordon Wardley (1901-1965), appointed City Engineer and Surveyor for Bradford in 1946 led a major redevelopment of Bradford city centre in the 1950s and early 60s. In 1953, Wardley set out his Bradford Development Plan: an ambitious vision that centred on improving the flow of traffic with the creation of ring roads and pedestrian subways. New, clean-lined modernist buildings would be created, forming a stark contrast with the ornate architecture of their predecessors. Many were critical as older, much-loved buildings, disappeared; not fitting Wardley’s vision of a ‘city of the future’. One decision that led to fierce opposition was the demolition of Swan Arcade in 1968.
Overall the project did not go well as several council members were implicated in the Poulson Scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of Home Secretary Reginald Maudling. The building named after Stanley Wardley, Wardley House, stood empty for several years before becoming home to The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (National Science and Media Museum). Opinions of his work did not mellow with age.
“… but it always seemed to me to have the kind of ugliness that could not only be tolerated but often enjoyed; it was grim but not mean, and the moors were always there, and the horizon never without its promise.”
J B Priestley on Bruddersford, a fictionalised Bradford, in Bright Day, 1946