Sunday, 2 November 2008

Back to Bradford

I've recently been back to Bradford, where I grew up. It’s in Yorkshire, the north, the Roman highland zone. (Brits, remember I have overseas readers. At least one, anyway.)

(Click the images to see them properly.)
Great Horton Road, from Moor Fields (my playground)

From up near Beacon Road.

From top of Jer Lane, on our way home from school. (In Standard II at Horton Bank Top Junior School Widdy -- Kenneth Widdowson -- and I were 8-year-old Situationists: this was on one of our deviations.)

It’s colder, wetter and greyer up there. Bradford is built on the moors and it feels like it: the centre is in a hollow but where most of us lived was in former villages on the surrounding hills -- often in 1930s semis (semi-detached houses) on hilltops -- where winds were fierce and rain horizontal.

See the semis on the horizon.

Stone terraces from the 18th and 19th centuries line steep streets.

Old Road, Horton Bank Top, just above my junior school.

Great Horton Road

At times and in places the north can seem simply deficient, in sun, nice greenery, variety of flowers, birds and butterflies. But at other times and in other places, when the sun is out or the sky is wild and you’re on a hill, there’s an exhilaration I've never experienced in the south except on rocky Cornwall coasts or northernish landscapes like Dartmoor.

Nowhere is geography as real as seen from Wibsey and Great Horton, my first homes in Bradford: massive hills, steep valleys, vertiginous hillside roads, sculpted glacial overflows, distant purple moors, the smell of soot and moorland grass and, spread out below and lapping up to the bottom of the quarry from the rim of the cliff edge of which we looked out, a city of stone mill chimneys, churches and houses, with smoke rising vertically.

From Moor Fields. But in 1960 you'd have seen 30-50 mill chimneys, and every old stone building was black.

The pride of Bradford’s woollen mills was Lister’s in Manningham, now cleaned up.

My third home, after two '30s semis, was a large Victorian end terrace house with room for our grandmother to move in with us, was a couple of hundred yards below the mill, on the far side from where this picture was taken.

The houses, including ours (at the far end of the terrace), were black.

I'm going to put more of my Bradford photos on Flickr. Details when they're ready.

No comments: