Historically known as the ‘Wool Capital of the World’ until the decline of the textile sector during the mid-20th century, Bradford now has a population of 534,300 and has been ranked the 6th largest city in the whole of the United Kingdom. Proud hometown of famous faces David Hockney (artist), Adrian Edmondson (actor) and Zayn Malik (pop star), Bradford also boasts a great amount of beautiful architecture, both Victorian and modern contemporary.
With 45,000 Visitor and Discover Guides recently printed by tourism board, Visit Bradford and our city of culture fast becoming an official tourist destination, here’s our roundup of the top 10 unique reasons why you must visit Bradford!
Bradford Industrial Museum
Originally built in 1875 as Moorside Mills, in 1970, Bradford Council transformed the development into an innovative museum. Celebrating all things machinery and a must-see for engineering enthusiasts, Bradford’s Industrial Museum has permanent demonstrations of their different devices along with an appealing exhibition programme. Machine running times do vary apparently so you are best to call before your visit to ensure they are open for viewings.
Paper Hall is one of Bradford’s oldest and dearest buildings. Dating back to 1640 and home to one of the city’s first spinning machines, Paper Hall now sits amongst the busy throng of modern city life. Interestingly, it was also the first residence in Bradford to have wallpapered walls and today this splendid building is available for commercial use.
National Science and Media Museum
Home to the IMAX and with seven different floors of educational galleries and exhibitions, the museum was voted the best indoor attraction in Yorkshire by the public in 2011. Impressively, it is also one of the most visited museums in the North of England. Current events include Wonderlab, Early Man half term and the temporary exhibition, City Girls.
There’s not many Bradford folk who haven’t seen a pantomime at the Alhambra. Grade II listed and built in 1913, the Alhambra is described as ‘the jewel in Bradford’s crown’ and is loved by all children and adults alike. This iconic Bradford venue can seat up to 1,400 people and is still very popular today with major touring companies and West End shows.
Based within the National Science and Media Museum, the IMAX is Bradford’s giant cinema of legendary proportions. On a 60 ft tall screen, you can catch the latest blockbuster or documentary all whilst enjoying the latest in 3D technology. If you haven’t experienced an IMAX yet I would suggest you visit Bradford and do so very sharpish.
Overlooking the river Aire and commanding attention with its noble size stands the grandiose and imperial Salts Mill. Named after the man who established this original woollen mill, Sir Titus Salt, since it’s closure in 1986 the former textile plant now acts as an art gallery, shopping centre and restaurant complex in the heart of Saltaire village. With a year-round exciting event and exhibition programme, Salts Mill is currently featuring galleries from the likes of David Hockney and the Moroccan Paper Tile Workshop.
Cow and Calf
Lovers of the great outdoors from far and wide will be keen to visit Bradford once they hear about our unique and impressive beauty spot. The Cow and Calf are a magnificent rock formation atop of Ilkley Moor and they were given their namesake due to one of the rock’s being quite large and the other next to it, small. A fabulous lookout point with long-ranging views and lots of well-marked paths, the Cow and Calf is a must-see attraction for climbing and walking enthusiasts visiting the area.
Home of the great author family, the Bronte sisters and best known locally as Bronte country, the picturesque Haworth village is positioned right on the edge of the Pennine moors in West Yorkshire. Tourists from all over the world visit in their droves just to see the desolate moors and the original setting of the famous Victorian novel, Wuthering Heights. Other great attractions worth seeing in Haworth are the iconic cobbles of the main street and the breathtaking scenery.
If you like shopping then visit Bradford for one of the latest developments to be unveiled, cutting-edge shopping and leisure complex, The Broadway. With recognised brands from the Disney store to Swarovski and a city park featuring a gigantic 4000 sq ft mirror pool, there is something for everyone at The Broadway Centre in Bradford.
Last and by no means least we have Europe’s only underground food and drink venue, the brilliant and the enchanting, Sunbridgewells. We are proud of our heritage and we are proud of what we have achieved here at Bradford’s underground Victorian tunnels. We host regular art exhibitions where students from the local university can proudly showcase their works to an adoring audience and our retail units are home to small, family-run businesses, truly keeping it local.
Whether for a bite to eat of locally sourced ‘Yorkshire tapas’ or to experiment with one of our many artisan gins at The Gin Bar, we would encourage visitors from all over the UK to make a social call at Sunbridgewells after you have seen the unique attractions our surrounding area has to offer. A historical tour goes down surprisingly well with a gin and tonic or two.
Written and published by Hannah King