Book Review: Some Bits of Bradford: Local history talks given at Glyde House. By Janet C. Senior

Some Bits of Bradford: Local history talks given at Glyde House. By Janet C. Senior.

Published by Bradford Historical & Antiquarian Society, 2018. 112 pp. ISBN: 978-1-9996419-0-0. £7.99.

Reserve a copy  from Bradford Libraries

We are pleased to welcome this attractive little book based on talks given by local historian Janet Senior. Retired teacher and volunteer archivist Janet has gathered quite a following for her monthly talks on local topics at Glyde House in Bradford, and now a wider public can enjoy a selection. Nine of the talks are featured here augmented by photographs from a variety of sources, new and old, and some drawings by Mary Tetlow.

Starting with the Legend of the Boar of Bradford we progress to the history of the Established Church in Bradford from the 7th to the 17th century, and on to Jonathan Glyde. The legend of the boar is well known, but, as with all these chapters, Janet’s knowledge and enthusiastic research into the archives and her skill at presenting complex subjects borne of her many years as a teacher, will provide much that is new to all. The topics will be sure to interest and enthuse newcomers, young and old. Thus the legend of the boar is set against the earlier, and later, history of Bradford; the history of the established church is made clear and interesting; while Jonathan Glyde (1808-1854) emerges as a profoundly influential figure in the development of Bradford and whose importance has hitherto been poorly recognized.

Charles Samuel Joseph Semon is another of those influential Bradfordians who have found a champion in Janet. Like Jonathan Glyde, he did much to improve the conditions of the populace, and in an aside, we learn that Janet was born in the Semon Nursing Home in Ilkley. Bradford and the Parks Movement is another slice of Bradford history brought to life as public-spirited civic leaders sought to improve the lot of the town’s population. Returning to religion, Janet gives an account of the 1851 Religious Census and what it revealed of worship in Bradford, in particular the decline of church attendance, the strength of non-conformity, and how social life was changing.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the long-standing debate over education, where the National Schools (Anglican based) and British Schools (Non-conformist supported) debated, a debate which local MP, W E Forster, endeavoured to end with his 1870 Education Act. A nice touch in this book is the author’s personal interest in these many subjects. Here, as a teacher, Janet wanted to know why the structure of the school system was so confused and hoped to find out by going back in time by trawling the archives. The Early Years of the Bradford School Board is the result. The chapter on Youth Offenders in Late Victorian Bradford will provide more surprising new knowledge for most of us. Another personal link gives us something very different, bringng us a positive ‘spin’ on the glory days of Bradford when, at its peak, there were no fewer than nineteen Foreign Consulates in Bradford, this internationally famous city of trade.

Each chapter has a brief personal introduction and ends with a glossary and references. Attractively produced, lucid, and full of interest, the BHAS is to be congratulated on this entry into book publishing. And thanks to Janet Senior for sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm. More please Janet!

Bob Duckett

Janet Senior book.jpg

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