Map of the Week: Bradford in the mid-nineteenth century

For this article I have drawn on details from two maps in the Local Studies Library reserve collection. Often I have to estimate the dates of plans and maps so it is a relief to have this information provided for once. Both maps have Bradford’s railway connection from the north-west at their heart.

The first is described as ‘Regina v The Midland. Railway Company, plaintiff’s plan, showing Commercial Street previous to 1849’. The second is entitled as a ‘plan of part of the Borough of Bradford showing the Midland Railway Station and Approaches, 1863’.  The maps can be reasonably regarded as showing the situation at the time of the 1851 and 1861 censuses. An even better match for the second map is the Jones Mercantile Bradford Directory 1863, made available on line by the Bradford Family History Society:

In 1847, just before the date of the older map, Bradford had become a Borough.  In the mid-nineteenth century the skeleton of the modern city was in the process of erection.  Bradford Infirmary had been  built on its Westgate site in 1844. The building has been long demolished but Infirmary Field survives as a green space. In the 1850s St George’s Hall, Peel Park, and Sir Titus Salt’s Saltaire were all created. The first work on Little Germany was being done in the 1860s, as the second map was being surveyed, but would continue for several decades.

The Bradford canal had opened much earlier in 1774 and ended at a canal basin and a large warehouse. These locations show well on the earlier map. Nearby, at the end of Well Street, is a large coal staithe. This had been present for many years and also features in a map of c.1825 where it is identified as ‘J.J. & Co’. Sadly I cannot identify the owner. The movement of coal was an important consideration in the minds of the original canal promoters, but water transport of goods was in large part superseded by the railway. The Leeds-Bradford Railway, in which George Hudson ‘the Railway King’ was closely involved, arrived via Shipley in 1846. The route to Keighley was created the following year. To construct the line’s terminus Dunkirk Street was razed to the ground and on 5 March 1846 the Bradford Observer noted the ‘deserted and desolate’ street. Two years earlier a famous resident had died there at the age of 46 years. This was Reuben Holder who was noted, as the same newspaper observed, for ‘eccentric rhymes with which….he was wont to create lights and shadows for the monotonous occupations of brick maker and bill sticker.’

Our map showing the situation in 1849 describes the building as ‘Leeds & Bradford Railway Station now called Midland Station’ which strongly suggests that the great Midland Railway Company acquired the line soon after that year. The 1850 Bradford directory still uses the Leeds-Bradford name and gives the address as ‘bottom of Kirkgate’. Its superintendent is Mr M Crabtree. The map would seem to have been drawn up for litigation purposes but what the action actually involved I cannot establish. The whole district between the station and Cheapside seems to have been known as Bermondsey in 1849 and this appellation survives as a road in 1863. Is the name Bermondsey ever used today?

On the left of the 1863 map you can see Trafalgar Street with its well-known brewery. The Trafalgar Steam Brewery had been founded in the 1850s and in this period was associated with the name of Cllr. Charles Waller. The company regularly advertised its porter, mild, and bitter beers in the pages of local newspapers. It survived until the 1930s, but I’m really not sure what they did with the steam. Manor Row had been constructed in 1820. The map of 1863 clearly shows the place where Manor Row and North Parade divide. On this spot one of Bradford’s most iconic buildings, the Yorkshire Penny Bank (1895), was eventually constructed, the architect being James Ledingham. Opposite this junction was the Bradford Grammar School with School (or Grammar School) Street.  John Richards was its headmaster in the 1850s. I believe the the history of the school stretches back into the Tudor period but the building in North Parade or Manor Row was constructed in 1820. There is known to have been an earlier school building near the cathedral.  BGS has occupied its Keighley Road site, once the centre of the Clockhouse estate, since shortly after the Second World War.

Salem Street, with its listed early nineteenth century terraced houses, was presumably named after the nearby Congregationalist Chapel. ‘Salem’ is a shortened form of Jerusalem and was a popular name for non-Conformist places of worship. This classical revival building was constructed in 1835-6 using ashlar sandstone. It was one of the earliest designs of the Lockwood & Mawson architectural partnership who later moved on to St George’s Hall and Saltaire.  I have included William Mawson’s portrait from his obelisk at Undercliffe cemetery.

Map of the Week 024 C

William Cudworth records that Salem’s minister during the mid-19th century was Rev J C Miall. A new chapel was opened in Oak Lane in 1888 after which the Manor Row building was reused as school board offices, and a school clinic for many years. It still exists as Kenburgh House. While considering churches the 1863 map shows Christ Church in Darley Street which was built as a chapel of ease for the Parish Church and consecrated in 1815. It was close to Bradford market but I believe that the site was eventually needed for a Darley Street extension. The building was demolished in 1879 and Rawson Square exists at its former site. The church was moved to nearby Eldon Place where it survived until 1940.

My limitations concerning Bradford theatre history have been exposed before but there clearly was a Duke Street Theatre in 1863. On this occasion I have retrieved information from Arthur Lloyd’s theatre website:

In 1841 the Liver Theatre, Duke Street, probably became Bradford’s first purpose built theatre. In 1844 it was remodelled and re-opened as Theatre Royal, Duke Street. The fact that it was widely known as the ‘wooden box’ may say something about its construction. In 1864 the Alexandra Theatre had opened in Manningham Lane. Five years later, when the Duke Street Theatre Royal finally fell victim to another series of Bradford street improvements, the Alexandra took over the discarded name.

If from Duke Street you continued down Piccadilly and across Kirkgate you would be walking down Piece Hall Yard. According to the City Heritage blue plaque the Bradford Piece Hall had been constructed in 1773. The development of a building for trading in ‘pieces’ of cloth had been proposed by the hugely influential Quaker merchant John Hustler who died in 1790. I’m not sure when the Piece Hall was demolished, in the late 1850s perhaps. Piece Hall Yard has been, since 1877, the location of the Bradford Club. Today the Club holds an importance for Bradford studies second only to the Local Studies Library itself, since it generously allows the Bradford Historical & Antiquarian Society and the Bradford U3A to hold their meetings within its gracious portals. John Hustler’s name survives in Hustlergate. In the newer map this is recorded as the site of the Old Market but the Gothic revival Wool Exchange, which survives largely as Waterstones, was built here a few years later, between 1864-67. It was another design of Lockwood & Mawson. The foundation stone laid by Lord Palmerston, and some magnificent glazed ceramic tiles, can still be seen in the Market Street pizza restaurant.


Naturally there is a great deal of history locked up in street names. Hustlergate has already been mentioned and Market Street must reflect the old market. But look at the streets at the top right of the second map. A water source is the obvious explanation for Well Street. The older map indicates that Collier Street (or Gate) was named for its closeness to the coal staithe. The Swaines and the Booths were wealthy local families and Charles St, Booth St, and Swaine St probably all derived their names from Charles Swaine Booth Sharp (1734-1805) who owned land in the area of Hall Ings and married Hannah Gilpin Sharp, who had inherited Abraham Sharp’s Horton estate via his niece Faith Sawrey. The name Brook St must reflect the course of the Bradford Beck. This is seemingly on the surface before 1849, but the 1851 and 1861 Bradford maps suggest that it was by then culverted and underground at this point. Only the names Well St and Market St have survived to the present day.

Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer

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