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Bradford in 1836

Including Bowling, North Bierley, Eccleshill, Manningham, Allerton, Clayton, Haworth, Heaton, Horton, Shipley, Thornton, and Wilsden.

BRADFORD, a market town and parliamentary borough in the West Riding of the county of York, and in the Morley division of the wapentake of Morley. It is one of the new boroughs under the Reform Act, and sends two members to parliament. The borough comprises the towns of Bradford, Manningham, Bowling, and Horton. The population of the borough is 43,527 ; the number of houses of £10 rent and upwards 1,083. The returning officer for the borough is appointed by the sheriff of the county. The population of the parish of Bradford is 76,996, and includes the following towns :-
Bradford, 23,233 ; Bowling, 5,958 ; N. Bierley, 7,254 ; Eccleshill, 2,570; Manningham, 3,564 ; Allerton, 1,733; Clayton, 4,469 ; Haworth, 5,835 ; Heaton, 1,452 ; Horton, 10,782; Shipley, 1,926 ; Thornton, 5,968 ; Wilsden, 2,252.

Bradford is one of the polling-places for the West Riding members. It is 163 miles from London in a straight line ; its measured distance is 192 miles. It is 10 miles from Leeds, and 33 from York. The area of the parish is about 33,710 acres ; its length being nearly 15 miles and its average breadth 4 miles.

Bradford is situated on a small brook which falls into the river Aire, and is at present very contracted ; in earlier days, when swollen by the floods from the neighbouring hills, it may have been sufficiently wide to have to have deserved the name of Broadford, from which it is supposed the present name of the town is derived. This town is mentioned in 'Doomesday Book'. In Saxon times Bradford formed part of the extensive parish of Dewsbury ; it was afterwards included in the rich barony of Pontefract, which was in the possession of the Lacies. 'The whole district was immediately dependent upon Dewsbury in an ecclesiastical, and on Pontefract in a civil sense.' (Whitaker's ‘Loidis in Elmete,’ page 350.) This powerful family had a castle at Bradford, which served as a protection to their retainers and other persons who would come to settle here from a less protected district : thus gradually would rise the village, town, church, and market. The early history of the town is connected with that of its castle ; the Lacies had large possessions in Lancashire, and it is supposed that Bradford was their frequent resting-place in passing from Pontefract into that county. From an inquisition taken in 1316, it appears that the town consisted of twenty-eight burgage houses ; these, with the tenants at will and villanes would make its population amount to about 300. A corn-mill and a fulling-mill are mentioned in the inquisition ; so that the rudiments of manufactures were early established. The last of the Lacies, Alice, married the Earl of Lancaster ; and Bradford, in common with the other possessions of her family, went to increase the estates of that duchy. Leland mentions Bradford as a rising town that ‘stondith much by clothing ,' comparing it with Leeds, he says that the latter, though 'as large as Bradford, is not so quik as it.'

During the civil wars between the royalists and parliamentarians, Bradford espoused the latter cause, held a severe contest with, and twice defeated the royalists. With Sir Thomas Fairfax at their head, the inhabitants marched against Leeds, and wrested that town from the cavaliers. They were however themselves defeated a short time after by the Earl of Newcastle on Adwalton Moor, with immense slaughter. Though much impoverished, the republican spirit was not extinct at Bradford, and the popularity of their cause was soon made manifest throughout the county by the successes of Fairfax, the declension of the cause of Charles, and the decisive battle of Marston Moor.

After these wars Bradford made little progress for a long time, and it was much depressed, in common with other manufacturing towns, during the American revolutionary war. On occasion of the revolutionary war in France, when fears of invasion were predominant throughout England, the loyalty and patriotism of the people of Bradford were very conspicuous. They raised a corps of volunteers and furnished their number of men for the navy with little difficulty.

In 1812 a spirit of insubordination was diffused through the wide and densely-populated district of which Bradford is the centre, in consequence of the introduction of certain kinds of machinery which, by lessening the demand for manual labour, seemed opposed to the interests of the operatives, and at first threw numbers out of employment. The machines most obnoxious to the workmen were those employed in the dressing of woollen cloth. The lawless system under which the insurgents acted, was called Luddism, and an imaginary personage styled General, alias Ned Ludd, was their reputed commander. To effect the destruction of machinery, and to attack the buildings in which it was contained, fire arms became necessary ; hence bands of men confederated for the purpose, and, bound by illegal oaths, were found prowling about the disturbed districts by night, rousing the inhabitants from their beds, and demanding the arms provided for the defence of their dwellings. In the West Riding several mills were entered, and the shears employed in the dressing of woollen cloth by the new system broken and destroyed. In the course of that year government augmented the power of the magistracy in the disturbed districts, and passed an act which rendered the administering of illegal oaths a capital offence. Sixty-six persons were apprehended and committed to the county gaol, of whom seventeen were executed. This terrible example extinguished every vestige of Luddism in the county.

In 1825 occurred a strike for wages, which was protracted during ten months, at an immense expense to the trades' unions, and at a dreadful sacrifice of comfort on the part of the operatives, who were plunged into a state of poverty from which they were long in recovering. Since that date, the history of the trade of Bradford has been one of continued prosperity, the effects of which are visible in the modern improvements of the town, and the apparent healthiness and happiness of every class of its active and intelligent population. During this period schools have been established and well attended ; a mechanics' institute, a philosophical society, and a library have also helped to spread a knowledge of those principles on which alone society can be safely based.

The chief manufacture of Bradford and the neighbourhood is worsted stuffs. The spinning of worsted yarn employs a great number of persons, and the stuffs are woven from the yarn. Woollen yarn for the manufacture of cloths, broad and narrow, is also spun and woven at Bradford in considerable quantities, but the worsted manufacture is the staple employment of the place, Leeds and its dependencies being the more immediate seat of the woollen manufacture. The piece hall, which is the mart for stuff goods, is 144 feet long by 36 broad, and has a lower and an upper chamber. The manufacturers of Bradford are characterised by their skill, enterprise, and diligence. The business which is transacted in their piece hall at the Thursday's market is very great, and forms one of the most animated commercial scenes in the kingdom. Many proprietors of worsted mills supply the small manufacturers with yarn, besides employing a great number of looms themselves. Machinery, worked by steam, has almost superseded manual labour in the stuff-manufacture, the weaving being now generally done by power-looms. The stuffs manufactured at Bradford are chiefly dyed at Leeds, the proprietors of the dye-houses being among the largest purchasers in the Bradford market.

The iron trade has long flourished in the neighbourhood of Bradford. Mr. Hunter, the historian of Sheffield, considers that the iron-mines of Yorkshire were explored by its Roman inhabitants, and he mentions the 'remarkable fact, that in the midst of a mass of scoria, the refuse of some ancient bloomery near Bradford, was found a deposit of Roman coins.' There is an abundant supply of iron ore and coal, both of excellent quality ; and the well-known ironworks at Bowling and Low Moor are only a short distance from Bradford. At these foundries some of the most ponderous works in cast-iron are executed. A vast number of workmen are employed in the different departments of the establishments - from the raising of the ore and coal, to the various marketable states of the metal. These ironworks have the reputation of being carried on with great skill ; the improvements of modern times having been successfully introduced in the different branches of the manufacture.

The principal merchants and manufacturers in the trades of Bradford are wool-staplers, wool-combers, worsted-spinners and manufacturers, worsted-stuff manufacturers, and woollen-cloth manufacturers. Several of the trades which are carried on are dependent upon the woollen and worsted trade, among which are the manufactures for combs, shuttles, and machinery. The proportion of other occupations is about equal to that of similar towns.

A septennial festival is held in Bradford in honour of Bishop Blase, to whom the invention of wool-combing is attributed. The day is kept with great rejoicing and gaiety, and the procession is witnessed by thousands of strangers front the neighbouring towns and villages. The 'Leeds Mercury' for the 5th of February, 1825, contains a good account of one of these festivals.

As a seat of commerce Bradford possesses many facilities. By the Leeds and Liverpool canal it has an unimpeded communication with Hull and the German Ocean, and with Liverpool and the Irish Sea. This canal traverses much of the west portion of the West Riding, passing through or near Leeds, Bingley, Keighley, Skipton, and Gargrave ; it enters Lancashire near Colne, and passes through Burnley, Blackburn, Chorley, and Wigan to Liverpool. By the Aire and Calder navigation, Leeds and the neighbouring towns are connected with Goole and Hull. The Leeds and Selby railway also connects the inland towns of Yorkshire with the river Ouse, the Humber, and the German Ocean. The main line of the Leeds and Liverpool canal does not pass through Bradford ; a branch, three miles in length, called the Bradford canal, communicates between the town and that line.

The state of morals and health of the persons employed in the factory districts has often been misrepresented. In many cases the well-being of the young persons employed is strictly attended to. In Bradford and other towns of the district, instances might be given where the masters consider it an important duty to have their young workpeople morally and religiously educated. When the benefits of factory-schools are more apparent, such schools will become more numerous and effective than they have hitherto been : it may be safely affirmed that the owners of factories are generally wishful to do all in their power to promote the welfare of their workmen. On the physical results of the factory system, such works as those of Dr. Ure and Mr. Baines on the Cotton Manufacture, and that of the late Mr. Thackrah of Leeds 'On the Effects of Arts and Trades on Health,' may be consulted ; from which it will appear that the evils which have been charged upon the system have resulted from the vices and follies of individuals, rather than from any baneful tendency in their employments.

Places of Worship, Education, &c.
The parish church of Bradford, dedicated to St. Peter, was erected in the reign of Henry VI, the tower being of later date; a former fabric existed, which must have been comparatively small. It is a vicarage of the annual value of £440. It has no remarkable exterior attraction, and is mentioned by Rickman as being principally of the perpendicular style of architecture. Among its monuments may be mentioned a very beautiful work by Flaxman, for a gentleman of the name of Balme, in which old age is finely personified. Christchurch was erected in 1813 ; its interior is commodious, but externally it is heavy and possesses no interest. At the present time (1836) means are about to be taken to provide additional church accommodation, which is evidently needed, where the population is so large and increasing, and where the existing churches are so well and regularly filled. The other places of worship in Bradford are for Catholics, Independents, Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists, Unitarians, and the Society of Friends.

The academic establishment called Airedale College, which is at Undercliffe, immediately near Bradford, is for the preparation of young men for the ministry in the Independent churches. This academy has been several times removed since its first establishment in 1665. Its station previous to the site it now occupies was Idle : its present prosperity is greatly owing to the addition made to its permanent endowments by a benevolent lady of Bradford, who has also been the chief cause of the erection of the commodious buildings now occupied by the college. The number of students has varied from fifteen to twenty.

The Baptists have a college at Horton which was established in 1805. It has been aided by gifts of money and premises, subscriptions and bequests of money aand books ; its present income is about £900 a year. Upwards of 100 ministers have been educated or are now pursuing their studies in this institution, ninety of whom are settled as pastors of churches in this country or abroad.

The Wesleyan Methodists have one of their seminaries for the education of the sons of ministers at Woodhouse Grove, near Bradford ; it was founded in 1812, and is said to be admirably managed, and to have been found extensively useful. Its design is to 'supply the children of ministers with an education suitable to the station which their fathers hold in society.' It contains 100 pupils, and is well supported by the religious body to which it belongs. The expenditure for this school and the kindred establishment at Kingswood, near Bristol (also containing 100 pupils), has been for the last year (to June, 1835), £4,122, a little more than £20 for each child. Of this expense the ministers whose sons are educated pay one-sixth.

The grammar-school of Bradford was in existence at the time of Edward VI. By the charter of 1663 it is called 'The Free Grammar-School of Charles II at Bradford.' The usual powers for its government are vested in 'thirteen men of the most discreet, honest, and religious persons of the neighbourhood, whereof the vicar of Bradford shall always be one.' The old school was an inconvenient building, unpleasantly situated near the churchyard. An act of parliament was obtained in 1818, which empowered the governors to dispose of lands for the erection of a new school-house, and a dwelling-house for head master. These buildings, which were completed in 1830, are in every respect commodious, and in addition to the school-room there is a library and a porter's lodge. All boys of the parish are admissible free of expense. This school is one of that has the privilege of sending a candidate for Lady Elizabeth Hastings's exhibitions at Queen's College, Oxford. The Archbishop of York for the time being is the visitor of the school. The present income arises from lands and buildings issuing out of freehold estates within the parish of Bradford. These estates have become so valuable, that the governors of the school were enabled, some years ago, to establish a writing-school, in which a number of children receive a useful elementary education.

There are schools in Bradford on the national system of education, and on the British and foreign system ; a school of industry for girls, an infant school, and many well conducted Sunday-schools in the town or in the immediate vicinity. The Established Church has two Sunday-schools, the Wesleyan Methodists four, the Baptists four, the Independents three, and the Primitive Methodists one. We have not procured returns from all these schools, but from those which have been obtained an opinion may be formed of their efficiency, and of the high character they sustain:-

The Parish Church Sunday-school contains 430 boys, 470 girls.
Christchurch Sunday-school contains 280 boys, 330 girls.
Baptists' Sunday-schools contain 490 boys, 510 girls.
Independents' Sunday-schools contain 448 boys, 453 girls.
Wesleyans' Sunday-schools contain 500 boys, 500 girls.

The National and British Schools each require a small weekly payment from the children : their numbers are :-

National : 105 boys, 80 girls
British : 240 boys, 180 girls
The Infants' School (including both sexes) : 150 scholars
School of Industry (the limited number) : 60 girls

A Mechanics' Institute was established in 1829, which is well sustained, and has about 450 members : there is also a philosophical society. A subscription library and news-room occupy a portion of the exchange-rooms, and other apartments in this elegant building are devoted to public meetings and to periodical concerts. A library and depository of works published by the Christian Knowledge Society is attached to one of the Church Sunday-schools, and the Bible Society, the Church and other Missionary Societies have active auxiliaries. The dispensary, established in 1826, is liberally supported and well managed. A branch society to the county institution for the deaf and dumb at Doncaster furnishes considerable funds to that establishment in annual subscriptions. Bradford has several minor charities for the sick and poor, similar to those of other towns.

The gas works were established in 1822 ; the new market, a plain and extensive building, was opened in 1824. There are two establishments for supplying the town with water ; and it may be said that every comfort and convenience is accessible to the inhabitants. The savings bank has been found very beneficial to the operatives of the district ; and the Temperance Society has a large number of members. It is worthy of record that English Temperance Societies were commenced at Bradford.

The town is governed by two constables, who are elected annually at a vestry meeting, and nominated by the retiring officers ; one of them is for the east, and the other for the west end of Bradford. There is a court of requests for the recovery of debts under forty shillings, and another court for the honour of Pontefract, in which debts may be sued for under five pounds. The piece hall was for many years used as a court-house for the meeting of the magistrates, and for holding the quarter-sessions. A new and ornamental building has just been completed for a court-house, which is found to be very commodious.

The general aspect of Bradford is that of opulence and respectability ; it is chiefly built of a fine light freestone : during the last ten years whole streets of elegant buildings have risen up, chiefly consisting of warehouses, and are an evidence of the increasing commerce and wealth of the town. The country to the north and west is open and picturesque, and is adorned with the residences of the more opulent merchants.

The occupations of the families in the parish of Bradford, according to the Enumeration Abstract of Population for 1831 were as follows :-

Families employed in agriculture : 790
Families employed in trade, manufactures, &c : 10,913
Families not comprised in the preceding : 3,346

The Town of Bradford Parish :-
Bowling, formerly Bolling, about a mile and a half S.W. of Bradford, was once the manor and residence of a family of that name. The hall is an ancient building, and was the head-quarters of the Earl of Newcastle in the year 1642 during the siege of Bradford. It was here, while in bed, after he had formed the purpose of giving up the inhabitants of Bradford to military execion, that he was dissuaded from his intention by a female apparition. It is supposed that some patriotic woman really appeared to him and remonstrated with him on his sanguinary determination, or that a dream produced the effect. Bowling has been mentioned as the seat of extensive ironworks.

North Bierley is about two miles S.E. from Bradford ; its inhabitants are employed in the ironworks, the mines and quarries, and the woollen trade. The hall was the residence of Dr. Richardson, a man of refined literary taste, who gave up much time to horticultural pursuits. There is a neat Episcopal chapel at North Bierley.

Eccleshill, Manningham, Allerton, Haworth, Heaton, and Clayton are all scattered villages, at short distances from Bradford ; their populations are chiefly employed in the stuff and cloth manufactures. At Manningham is the beautiful seat of E. C. Lister, Esq., one of the members of parliament for the borough of Bradford.

Horton is the most populous and important of the smaller towns : it possesses a free-school which was founded and endowed by Christopher Scott, in the reign of Charles I. In this school 200 children are instructed. There is also another school in which sixty children of some neighbouring hamlets are instructed free. The places of worship are a small Episcopal chapel, and large chapels for the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists. The Baptist seminary is at Horton.

Shipley is three miles N. from Bradford. A church was built here in 1825, which will contain about 1,500 persons ; there are chapels for the Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists. Worsted, woollen cloth, and paper manufactures are here carried on.

Thornton is about four and half miles W. from Bradford ; it has numerous manufactures of stuffs, a church, an Independent chapel, and a Methodist chapel. It has a school, erected by subscription, which contains eighty children ; some of them are instructed in the classics. This school has an endowment of about £50 a year, derived from various benefactions. There is also a school on the national system.

Wilsden is five and a half miles N.W. of Bradford ; it has a beautiful new church, an Independent chapel, and two Methodist chapels ; it is a flourishing town, and, like the others in the parish of Bradford, indicates by its appearance the prosperity and activity of its population.

Abraham Sharpe, the celebrated mathematician, and machinist, was born at Little Horton, about 1651.

Dr. Richardson was born at Bierley Hall, in 1664. He took the degree of M.D. at Oxford, but never practised. He devoted his life to literature, horticulture, and the study of antiquities. The second hot-house which was ever con-structed in the N. of England was built at his house, and a cedar of Lebanon which he planted still remains there, a splendid specimen of this beautiful tree. It was sent a seedling to Dr. Richardson from Sir Hans Sloane.

John Sharp, Archbishop of York, was born at Bradford in 1644 ; he was a man of great eloquence, of sincere piety, and of general abilities. He died in 1718, and was buried in York minster, where an elegant monument was raised to his memory.