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Every Day Bradford: A Calendar of Stories that Shaped a City by Martin Greenwood


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Bradford is one of the most fascinating places in the country. It grew in the 19th century from a small market town to one of the UK’s largest cities. It built its new wealth on factory production of woollen goods, a classic case study of the Industrial Revolution.

This book is no conventional narrative of Bradford’s history. It celebrates each day in the year with some important story from 1212 to 2020 – the impact of a strong-minded or talented individual, a critical event of success or disaster, or an important moment in the development of the city, its buildings or its institutions.

Bradford has experienced good and bad times, periods of growth, decline and regeneration, and several waves of immigration. Often rising above adversity and strife, many individuals have made outstanding contributions to the city and the nation. They feature businessmen such as Sir Titus Salt and Samuel Lister, who made large fortunes through hard work and innovation, and creative giants with international reputations such as JB Priestley and David Hockney.

Many mill-owners became very wealthy, but many more workers suffered from poverty and ill-health. Not for nothing did Friedrich Engels describe Bradford as a ‘stinking hole’ or TS Eliot refer to silk hats on Bradford millionaires in his most famous poem.

The stories cover a wide range of topics – industry, commerce, politics, arts, leisure, sport, education, health etc. They include social issues such as the extreme poverty and squalor in the 19th century and women’s rights and multi-culturalism in the 20th. The accent, however, is on the positive – the unusual, the brave, the eccentric and the amazing.

In 2021 the city is preparing a bid for UK City of Culture 2025. This history provides a unique reference of what Bradford has achieved and how it can build on that foundation.

Never before have such stories about everyday life in and around Bradford across the centuries been brought together in one volume. Martin Greenwood has built a remarkable kaleidoscope of life in his home city from medieval times to the current day.