Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Real 'Northern Powerhouse': Bradford's Riches

In Bradford some of us have been harassed for years for remaining positive about our city, especially throughout its clearly obvious desperate decline in the 1990s and early 21st century. As the proprietor of a small business, designing and producing souvenirs for the city, I've often been on the receiving end of negative criticism.
It's well known that the infamous 'hole' (where there now stands a shiny new shopping centre) became a symbol of us townspeople's desperation and for over 10 years we suffered it.
But although a shiny new shopping centre is fab, it isn't everything. Bradford is still in the doldrums economically. The Council is obliged to continue cutting back on much of what we hold dear. Our Media Museum, our Jewel in the Crown, is once again under threat from external sources. And it's hardly surprising that the once grand Darley Street has fallen by the wayside since Broadway opened.

Bradfordians have every right to feel attacked on all sides.

Bradford couldn't be described as a wealthy place by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the statistics on the outcomes of the poverty here are frightening. And yet as I persevere with my little business I still argue that Bradford is rich.

So where do I see it?

Its richness lies in its history and geography: The Dale and the Beck gave birth to world beating industry which for centuries has drawn an international workforce, some of whom have become the movers and shakers of modern British society. Bradfordians have shown the way for generations in the virtues of tolerance, even love. Whenever an important social issue becomes headline news, the outside world looks to Bradford to see how we have already handled it. And usually we have already handled it.

Its because of this kind of richness that I still say Bradford is a place that can change you. If you let it.

This city's depth of strength is in its people. Many are themselves immigrants and many more are the second, third, fourth or fifth generation offspring of immigrants. We should remember our history. The city's population snowballed with new workers moving in during the growth of the wool industry. And Bradford continues to attract immigrants today because it has the necessary support in place. Many more deeply good people come to be part of the University and College. Some of them also stay and raise families.

All of our children are growing up in a unique place giving them an experience of childhood like no other. If they choose they can grow up equipped in both head and heart for the 'small' world which, like it or not, we all now inhabit.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes & yes - awesome words about the fab city of Bradford