Having spent a weekend in Bradford for the Infest music festival I also got time to wander around the city and soak up some of its heritage.
While driving from Keswick to Bradford via Kendal I passed a road direction sign saying:
This amused me no end as most of you will know the Bradford & Bingley was a building society that was taken over by a bank [I think]. I had not realised they were the names of places. This maybe due to their advertising being based on two bowler hatted characters called Bradford and Bingley.
This area of the UK is lesser explored by me. I spent a week near York but didn’t actually go into York so this was a chance to find out about a northern industrial town.
On Saturday morning we needed some liquid latex and so used Google maps to find a shop that would hopefully sell some. It was in a shopping centre. On the way we passed the town hall.
This was actually quite pretty and built using local stone as a lot of the city was. The drive into the university the day before had highlighted that this city, while once great, wasn’t that great and had suffered a lot of economic depression. There were many boarded up buildings and run down areas. The overall tide is turning though as new shopping centres pop up in the centre, but the long term economic benefit of these doesn’t seem useful to a town. They might make the locals think the centre is nice and it looks good but the vast majority of money spent there will leave the town and head to corporations elsewhere in the world. A thriving shopping centre is not the economic boon to a town I suspect locals think it is.
The Kirkgate Shopping centre looked like a 60s build. While walking there I think we went past five Greggs shops. I get it that they are quite cheap but I’m not sure that’s a good sign. The Joke Shop in the market area of the Kirkgate sold liquid latex along with cheap sex toys and bongs. A funny little shop with an odd clientele.
I had, in the previous week, been discussing “seaside” joke shops with Penguin and we wondered if there’re still places that sell joke fingers and snappy chewing gum. I was glad to have found this little shop.
After a nice breakfast we wandered back the University and music and escape.
The Sunday morning meant that I wanted to have breakfast and also see the Science and Media museum. It’s possibly even a “national” museum. Just Googled that and yes, it’s a “national” museum.
Firstly we went to the Cathedral to have a look and it was “churchy”. There were some historical aspects that were interesting but I wasn’t that bothered. Little Germany was close by and we wandered that and saw the mural dedicated to a band of socialists.
The Waterstones in Bradford is in the old exchange building and very grand. A lovely space and ideal for selling books where those hushed tones of a library abound.
Then the science and media museum. It was free and we wandered the history of photography which was pretty good and had a very lot of cameras. A lot of the older exhibits were reproductions, which I don’t like so much but, I understand why they are like that. We didn’t go into any of the temporary exhibitions and maybe that is where the value is in this museum but most of it was a bit boring and shit. As I explained previously that could be because all the museums I’ve been to before this are in this nation’s capital and large and big. I’ve also seen museums in Washington DC, maybe they aren’t representative. Overall I was disappointing by the museum there wasn’t a lot of science [none] and media was underwhelming.
Bradford seemed a little sad to me. A once majestic northern industrial town / city that has suffered and only now seems to be rejuvenating using shopping centres and little else. I hope it changes constructively, there’s a lot of glossing over the cracks when financial investment isn’t done correctly.