Map of the Week: Toads and Chapels

In the 170 years since Bradford became a borough, in 1847, its centre has changed almost beyond recognition. New buildings have been erected and old ones demolished. The Bradford Beck has progressively vanished underground into culverts.  New roads have been created (Sunbridge Road being a good example), while others have been repositioned, lengthened, or have disappeared entirely. Change has been a continuous process but it was accelerated in the 1960s when there was a wholesale city centre redevelopment associated with the name of SG Wardley, the City surveyor and engineer. I should like to recount something of this story by describing the events that befell a thoroughfare called Chapel Lane.

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I thought I had made a good start with the this first plan, which is widely reproduced and purports to date from 1800. Here it is easy to see the acute angle made by the Turls (Tyrrel Street) and Chapel Lane/Toad Lane. Toad Lane is an odd name but it is not unique; there are, or were, Toad Lanes in Bingley, Newark and Rochdale. Possibly the name is a corruption of ‘t’owld’ lane: certainly in Bradford the lane is drawn, but not named, on a map as early as c1722. On the above plan building (3) is the Unitarian Chapel which was certainly in existence at this time. An existing town hall is numbered (35) on the map but there is a small puzzle here. The Act of Parliament that appointed commissioners for levying rates, and improving Bradford roads and lighting, was only passed in 1805 and no town hall was to be built for decades. I am very obliged to local historian Kieran Wilkinson who explained this apparent anomaly by telling me that the map of 1800 is not contemporary but was a creation of the late nineteenth century, and marked places both where important local buildings were in 1800, and would be in the future. Let us instead look at a detail from a map that is believed to be contemporary, that of 1802, which is available in the Local Studies Library.

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I do not think that there is much doubt that the second plan was the origin of the first, but there are some difficulties here too. Firstly Toad Lane is not mentioned. Kieran tells me that the shortening of Toad Lane, to that unnamed portion that leaves Chapel Lane at a right angle to join Bowling Green, happened in August 1804. The town’s board of commissioners changed both it and the names of a number of other roads in the town (Bank Street, Bridge Street, Market Street and Well Street being introduced as names then). Secondly although there is a Chapel Lane there is no obvious chapel. In his Pen & Pencil Pictures of Old Bradford William Scruton gives a full account of this building, originally constructed in 1717. Much of its material came from Howley Hall, Batley and the land on which it stood was donated by the Sharp family of Horton Hall. The names was originally the Toad Lane Presbyterian Chapel. The old chapel lasted about 150 years and for much of this time was located ‘amid green fields’. The chapel was replaced by a larger more modern structure in 1869, and finally demolished a century later. The most notable figure to be connected with the institution was Rev. Joseph Dawson who is closely associated with the exploitation of the mineral wealth of Low Moor. One possible explanation of the difference between the two maps is that the 1800 marks the position of the 1869 rebuild whereas in 1802 the chapel formed part of the block drawn immediately south of the first section of Chapel Lane. Unfortunately this simple explanation cannot be correct. A chapel, but with no denomination provided, is mapped here c1722, which is in accordance with Scruton’s statement, and the following detail from a map of 1825, surveyed by L Atkinson, clearly illustrates the same building. Here the building numbered (8) is identified on the map rubric as the Unitarian Chapel.

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I have already mention the Bradford commissioners. This early embryo town council are said to have originally met at the Bull’s Head Inn, Westgate. At the first meeting according to historian Horace Hird, Lord Mayor (1951-52), the commissioners drew up that list of Bradford roads. The same commissioners moved to the ‘Station House’ in Swaine Street after it was erected in 1838. They did not change landlord since the Bull’s Head and the Station House were both built on land leased from Rev. Godfrey Wright who regularly features in this articles.  The final building I want to mention is the Bowling Green Hotel, which completes what I shall call ‘the central triangle’. This hotel was located at the end of Bridge Street. Cudworth mentions that in the 1830s its owner was a Mrs Susannah Ward, widow of Joseph Ward. William Scruton pushes the Bowling Green’s existence still further back into the seventeenth century. He regarded it as ‘the best inn of the town’. It was used by the Royal Mail and the open space in front of the inn, which presumably was once a bowling green, came to be employed for political meetings. The road names remain unchanged until the mid-nineteenth century, which is represented by the next map from the Local Studies Library reserve collection.

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It is perfectly clear that there has been extensive construction in the central triangle.  The Bradford Observer (1844) observed that the premises of DH Smith at the corner of Toad Lane were ‘striking and elegant’. Elsewhere a ‘Smith’s Tavern and Beer-house’ is noted which I assume was the same building. Other developments were evidently far from elegant. In 1847 the Poor Law Commissioners considered Chapel Lane a possible site for a ‘vagrants yard’, and in 1855 a ton and a half of ‘vile bones’ were removed from the premises of John Boyd. The Lund’s 1856 Directory of Bradford lists John Boyd as a ‘rag dealer’. The same source gives Rev. JH Ryland as the non-resident minister at the chapel. There is also an architects’ partnership (Stott & Illingworth) and a painter (John Edwards), but otherwise the Chapel Lane residents are all tradesmen: plumbers, hair dressers, bootmakers, saddlers, pawnbrokers and so forth. Was the ‘Old Foundry’ (Cliff’s Foundry) drawn on the second map still functioning in the town centre? According to Hird it was.

The new unnamed cut-through joining Chapel Lane and Tyrrel Street  is Bower Gate. Toad Lane makes an acute angle with Norfolk Street. Kieran Wilkinson tells me that Toad Lane was ‘stopped up’ in 1869 to assist with the subsequent Town Hall development. The Bradford Daily Telegraph of 10 September 1873 recalled that Toad Lane was a ‘narrow passage… immediately behind Garth’s warehouse’. According to the Bradford Observer of 17 March 1869, the width of Toad Lane was only three and a half yards. The next development, which I have already hinted at, represented a huge change. Bradford Borough Council decided that a purpose built Town Hall was required to support the rapidly growing urban area. A number of sites were considered but Chapel Lane or the Bowling Green were the front runners. Finally a competition was launched to design a hall to be built on the Chapel Lane site. The winning design was opened by the Mayor, Matthew Thompson, in 1873. The architects were the famous partnership of Lockwood & Mawson who had already designed the Wool Exchange (1867). The contractor was John Ives of Shipley. In his book Bradford in History Horace Hird described the whole process and provided illustrations of the runners-up. It seems that all the considered designs were for Gothic buildings including a tower. The stone for the winning design came from Cliff Wood quarries but at present I do not have sources for the glass, metal work and ornamental marbles, nor the million bricks incorporated into the structure. The Unitarian Chapel and Chapel Lane itself were left alone during this development, but Bradford became a city in 1897 and the increase in council business required an extension to the Town Hall, opened in 1909. This provided more committee rooms and a banqueting hall. The designer was Richard Norman Shaw. As you can see from the map below only a stub of Chapel Lane remained after the completion of this extension, and the chapel is now south of Town Hall Square. A further extension was constructed in 1914 but this does not seem to have affected the plan of the building which is essentially the same in the 1930 OS map with Chapel Lane now opening off Norfolk Street. The nearby Alhambra Theatre was to be built at the same time.

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Understandably these events drastically reduced the number of occupants of Chapel Lane. Even before the extension was built the PO 1898 Directory indicates that, besides the city’s conditioning house, health office and water testing department, there were just five textile related premises, and a produce merchant. Chapel Lane and the Unitarian chapel survived until the reorganisations of the late 1960s when wholesale clearances took place. These must have been required to create the space that became Centenary Square, the Magistrates Court and Coroner’s Office building, the Norfolk Gardens and the Hall Ings extension. The court building, which was opened in 1972, retains ‘The Tyrls’ as its address. What remained of Chapel Lane ultimately gave way for Norfolk Gardens. However Kieran feels that it is arguable that some of Chapel Lane remains within the Town Hall as there is an outside area between the original Town Hall and the extension which was part of this lane.


Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer


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.

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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

Map of the Week: Bradford Centre

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Many maps and plans were drawn prior to planned developments that may, or may not, have actually taken place. There are two maps in the Local Studies Library reserve collection which evidently were produced to display the same projected roads leaving Bradford to the south and west. Here I have reproduced the large scale plan illustrating the town centre. It is not easy to interpret and I would be very happy to have my conclusions corrected by anyone more familiar with the evolution of our road transport links.

For a start the compass points are mislabelled, although the arrow head is pointing north as it should do. The top right corner of the map would have been clearer if the parish church had been included. Church Bank is approximately the continuation of the mapped Hall Ings, although much of Hall Ings has now vanished following development. Leeds Road is in existence which dates the map to later than c.1825-30 during which period the new turnpike to Leeds was constructed by the Leeds & Halifax Turnpike Trust. Is there any other indication of date? There is no suggestion of the the line of the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway from Halifax via Low Moor (opened 1850), so the map must be earlier than the late 1840s. The map almost certainly pre-dates Bradford becoming a borough in 1847.

The short pink road joining Well Street to Vicar Lane was built and still survives. It also took the name of Well Street and, resurfaced, it is between Little Germany and the new Broadway shopping centre. The end of Wakefield Road is modern Bridge Street. The real difficulty comes with the pink track directed north from the bottom centre of the map. Is this intended to be Manchester Road? No, Manchester Road must be the straight highway ending at the junction of Tyrrel Street and Chapel Lane. The pink road seems to be following the course of the Bowling Beck and the watercourse is presumably indicated by the faint superimposed wavy line. The Bowling Beck is now culverted but I believe it does lie well east of Manchester Road. What is the unnamed linking road joining the pink track to Wakefield Road? It is too far north to be Croft Street, which survives, but it is in the right place to be Union Street which was lost in the development around the Interchange. If I am correct then the pink road itself was never constructed but the second small scale map in the LSL enables one to project its further course. It would have joined Manchester Road just before Ripleyville.

As you can see in the town centre the planned road would have reached a point marked ‘bowling green’. After a short gap another road leaves westwards from two origins. I wondered if this was approximately the track of the future Thornton Road (constructed 1829). This works if Great Horton Road is the unnamed thoroughfare making a right angle with Manchester Road, but the pink tracks seem to start too far north.  Another superimposed faint line marks, I assume, the course of the Bradford Beck in which case the ‘box’ at the end of it would then be the Soke or Queens Mill. I cannot make the pink tracks fit with any roads I know, but in any case the  street plan here changed radically around 1870 with the creation of Aldermanbury and Godwin Street. The other small scale map brings the planned road to a junction with Brick Lane after which it does continue along the line of Thornton Road as far as I can judge. If I am right the illustrated map must date from the late 1820s after the construction of Leeds Road but before that of Thornton Road.

I am on firmer ground with the ‘bowling green’. This was an inn that once stood on Bridge Street. Cudworth mentions that in the 1830s its owner was a Mrs Susannah Ward, widow of Joseph Ward, about the time then that this map was being made. On-line masonic records suggests that the Bowling Green Inn was in existence in the late eighteenth century (c.1794) and William Scruton, in Pen & Pencil Pictures of Old Bradford, pushes that date back still further into the seventeenth century. He regarded the Bowling Green as ‘the best inn of the town’. It was used by the Royal Mail and the open space in front of the inn was seemingly employed for political meetings. Copies of Scruton’s book, which mentions many other former Bradford taverns, are to be found in the Local Studies Library. Also available is Michael Hopper’s History of Communications in Bradford up to the Period of the First World War.

Derek Barker, Library Volunteer