Thursday, May 10, 2007

Back in Bradford

Last weekend, for the first time in years. A couple of things - first of all, they're knocking down the first attempts at regeneration now, whilst a lot of the empty sites that used to be mills are still empty. The whole 60s grey tickytacky city centre is gone, leaving half a mile of rubble. Oddly, the remaining Victorian buildings seem to reassert themselves in the power vacuum, the sight lines being recreated onto the Wool Exchange and others. The changes to the street plan also have this effect - Market Street, Priestley's favourite, is a major road again. (Bet it's shit on a weekday, though.)

How did I not notice how many weird religious entities there are in town before? Not just the Muslims (although I saw tract-pushers in the city centre, something I don't remember seeing very often before), but the Scientologists and weirdo yank Christian sects. The Abundant Life people have had their supermarket-size hangar for years, but it's the first time I saw it as a religious building rather than an unusual B&Q.

What does it mean? Yorkshire has a tradition of sects, and I suppose the lag between Bradford and Leeds in the last twenty years doesn't help. I can't help seeing it as worrying, though.


Anonymous said...

I was back in that neck of the woods properly for the first time in ages. Every derelict factory in Bingley seems to have been turned into loft apartments. It's weird. Especially with the startling number of unadopted (and unpaved) streets in that town. (Not urban poverty, really. I have no idea why so many streets aren't maintained round there - with the frequency that Bingley shifts between Tory and Labour councillors, you'd have thought there'd be some pork barrel being doled out.)

Anonymous said...

I went to Manchester, New Hampshire - a former mill town. Urban regeneration is not something you think that the US is going to do, but they have tax incentives to attract high tech businesses up from Mass. etc. and I have to say that they seem to have done a damn site better job than it sounds like has been done here.

Anonymous said...

Ah, so you've finally come across spoils of the Bradford masterplan.

You should have been in the centre when they were bulldozing what they call "The Channel" last year. There was Prescott, those brassy orange women which appear at such events, and lots of executive bonhomie. The Council had also plastered the town centre with lots of Soviet-esque propaganda posters with inspiring slogans like "Bradford's not a gulag any more" and so such. For months it smelt like cross between a glue factory and ... ok, things don't smell much worse than a glue factory, and all we have to show for it so far is a large amount of sand.

Anyhow, shortly the Channel Urban Village will be fully gentrified and gated; hell, we'll all be supping lattes in the drizzle!

Yours in Bradford,


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