Eastbrook House


Since the mid-nineteenth century the district of Little Germany has been one of Bradford’s architectural glories, but I have become interested in its earlier history. During most of the eighteenth century the area was pasture with a few cottages; much of the ownership was vested in the Vicar of Bradford. Some of the land, like so much of the city, was mined for coal although I know of no records that identify the exact location of the collieries. Changes occurred at the end of the century associated with the name Edmund Peckover.

Edmund was born in 1757 at Fakenham being descended from an old Quaker family. I am not sure what tempted him away from rural Norfolk: Horace Hird believed that ‘he could see at an early date that Bradford was going to play a dominating part in the world of wool’. If this is true then Edmund was percipient indeed since the city’s textile triumphs were a generation or two in the future. Another possibility is that his future partner, John Hustler (1715-90) of Undercliffe House, Eccleshill, was already acquainted with his fellow Quakers of the Peckover family and encouraged the move. Nobody was to be more influential than Hustler in promoting the growth of Bradford and its connection with the outside world through its canal (1774-77). He was also instrumental in the building of the now demolished Piece Hall (1773).

Whatever the circumstances of his arrival Edmund seems to have rapidly evolved into a prosperous merchant and wool stapler with warehouses in Canal Road. Although initially in partnership with John Hustler he later (Cudworth says in 1795) commenced banking on his own behalf. In 1803 he was joined in this enterprise by his cousin, Charles Harris, in the firm of Peckover, Harris & Co. Edmund never married and had no children of his own. The new company evolved into the Bradford Old Bank at Bank Street and then, in 1813, Kirkgate whereupon the Bank Street accommodation was offered for sale. Switching from wool-stapling to banking was not so very surprising since many Quaker families (Gurney, Gibson, Barclay, Hoare) were involved in such financial institutions. In the year 1803 Edmond was to be an important figure in supporting legislation enabling a commission to undertake various local government responsibilities such as night-watchmen, water supply and scavenging. He died in Bradford in 1810 at the early age of 53, still a bachelor. His name is commemorated in Peckover Street in Little Germany which you can see on the illustrated Council information sign. After his death Charles’s two brothers, Henry (1812) and Alfred (1824) became partners at the bank.

In 1797 Peckover had purchased an estate close to the centre of Bradford which had previously been glebe land. He began to construct a town house for himself called Eastbrook House (the East Brook being one of the tributaries of the Bradford Beck). The house was surrounded by a park and had a lake several hundred yards long. From the eventual lease advertisements (Leeds Mercury 1811) we know that the estate consisted of an orchard, gardens and 20 acres of meadow. The house had a dining room, breakfast room, drawing room, six good ‘lodging rooms and dressing rooms’, with attics, cellars and adequate accommodation for servants including a butler’s pantry. It was furnished by Gillows of Lancaster and London who were a famous furniture-making firm as yet un-united with Warings. The extent of the property shows well in the Bradford map of 1802. Eastbrook House is the central block marked ‘hall’.

Eastbrook 1802

The further development of the estate only began after Edmund Peckover’s death. His partner Charles Harris seems to have attempted to lease the house but eventually he evidently decided to live there himself, although at his retirement (in 1840) he moved to Fulford Grange, York where he died in 1847. The original Eastbrook Hall (Methodist) was built in 1825 on land purchased from Harris although this was replaced in 1903 by the more familiar Edwardian building. In 1832 a Quaker School was built nearby in Chapel Street on land given by Harris. This was opposite the first Temperance Hall built in 1837 (again on land given by Harris).


Despite the sales and gifts of land it can be seen from the first OS map, surveyed around the time of Charles Harris’s death, that the estate was left largely intact. Much of the adjacent land was the property of the Rev. Godfrey Wright who has featured several times in my accounts of Bradford nineteenth century history. Charles Harris’s brother Henry is well known to those of us who live in Heaton since for a long period he leased Heaton Hall and was known for his philanthropic work. His brother Alfred Harris took the lead in creating Bradford Fever Hospital off Leeds Road, and laid its foundation stone.

Eastbrook 1847 OS

Eastbrook House had always been close to the Barkerend Bradford Union Workhouse (built 1790) but the map reveals how closely coal mining, in the shape of Bunker’s Hill colliery, had intruded on the estate. There were open country views only to the east. It may be that instability due to the mining led to the removal of the Bradford Workhouse to the St Luke’s Hospital site in the mid-nineteenth century. The final map shows how dramatically the built environment changed in the next 40 years. Modern Peckover Street marks the southern boundary of the old estate and the eastern border almost reaches Garnett Street. Harris Street and East Parade run through the centre.

Eastbrook 1889 OS

Eastbrook Hall, formerly the Methodist ‘Cathedral’ of the North, was opened in 1904 but had stood empty since the 1980s. A major fire in 1996 left it derelict, burnt out and roofless. Restoration was finally completed, as apartments, in 2008. Much of the old estate is occupied by Little Germany, which is a 20-acre conservation area in the heart of the city. Is anything left of Eastbrook House itself? Horace Hird, writing in 1972, recorded that a remnant remained in the shape of three arched windows and a little tower, once part of the southeast wall. An hour’s walk up and down in the rain revealed no sign of it today, so perhaps it has followed the rest of the estate into oblivion. The area’s warehouses, or even its simple Victorian houses, are well worth investigating however.



Having totally failed to find Horace Hird’s tower and arched windows I was corrected, not for the first time, by local photographer and historian Kieran Wilkinson. By following his directions they are not difficult to locate. You need to walk right to the top of East Parade and turn left onto the Shipley Airedale Road. The are protected by a metal gate and fence. Kieran also provided me with this Google Street View link:



Further Reading

Horace Hird, Bradford Remembrancer, McDonalrd Book Co., 1972.

Susan Duxbury-Neumann, Little Germany: a history of Bradford’s Germans, Amberley, 2015.

Peter Higginbotham, Barkerend workhouse: http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Bradford/


Bradford physicists

There is no doubt that the greatest Bradford born scientist, and the winner of its only Nobel prize (in 1947), was Sir Edward Appleton (1892-1965). He studied at St John’s College, Cambridge and eventually held chairs at Kings College London and the University of Cambridge. He was also a Reith Lecturer. He died in Edinburgh where for some years he had been Vice-Chancellor of the University. Sir Edward is most famous for his work on the ionosphere which, he found, had the property of reflecting radio waves. This work had important consequences during the wartime development of RADAR.

Only slightly less eminent, but almost forgotten today, was astronomer Alfred Fowler (1868-1940). He was born in Wilsden, the seventh son of Hiram & Eliza Fowler (born Hill). Rather remarkably, given his later intellectual eminence, neither of Alfred’s parents could write; both making their marks on their certificate when they married in 1849 at Bradford Parish Church. It is easy to find the family in the 1871 census. Hiram and Eliza were cotton warp dressers, and Alfred’s oldest brother Walker was already a worsted weaver at 13 years of age. Alfred himself was three years old and by then he had a younger brother, William. The family moved to Keighley in the mid-1870s and the 1881 census finds them at 9 Bassett St. Hiram died in 1886 but by then Alfred had moved on having, at the early age of 14 (1882), won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science, South Kensington.

The Normal School of Science evolved into Imperial College London, and Alfred Fowler was to work there all his life rising to be the holder of an Assistant Chair of Physics. One of his students may have been HG Wells who studied at Imperial College. Alfred was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1910, this being only one of many awards and medals he received during his career. He was made a CBE in 1935. Alfred married Isabella Orr in Keighley in 1893 and the couple had two children Beatrice Hilda (who married an art teacher Archibald Ward) and Norman Russell.

A gas can be ionised by heat or an electric current. Outer electrons are stripped away and the ion will then emit light of wavelengths characteristic of the atom or molecule concerned. This is said to be its emission spectrum. These characteristic lines can be detected by the scientific instrument called the spectroscope. A spectroscope uses a prism or defraction grating to split light from a radiant object, like a star, into its component wavelengths. This process enabled astronomers to recognise many elements in stars by their characteristic emission lines. Alfred Fowler was a great expert on spectroscopy especially as it related to sunspots and stars. He identified lines in a helium spectrum (Pickering-Fowler Series) which were used by Niels Bohr in his theory of atomic structure. He also identified ozone in the earth’s upper atmosphere and carbon monoxide in comets. He was President of the Royal Astronomical Society 1919-21. Alfred Fowler died in Brentford following a stroke in the early part of the Second World War. Isabella long outlived him.

Wilsden Parish Council now wishes to crowdfund a blue plaque in Alfred Fowler’s honour. More information about this and Alfred’s life can be found at:



The hunt for Joseph Lee

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The tombstones at St Paul’s Parish Church, Shipley have been re-sited against the perimeter wall. In this position they are very easy to examine and on several occasions I have been struck by the unique design which I have illustrated. It seems to be a geometrical proof of Pythagoras’s theorem. As a logo it would be highly appropriate for a mathematics teacher and, carelessly, I have always assumed that the grave marker was dedicated to Joseph Lee, a famous nineteenth century Heaton schoolmaster. This was completely wrong since the dates don’t fit at all. It seemed timely to establish exactly who was commemorated here. I believe I have now extracted most of the facts. In my story there are two men named Joseph Lee (father and son) and I shall label them sen. and jun. Joseph Lee sen. was variously a worsted manufacturer, a farmer, a woolstapler in Bradford and finally, after retirement perhaps, he became a farmer once more. It appears that the stone was principally intended to record two men:

In affectionate remembrance of  Joseph Lee of Bradford  who died Jan 10 1865 Aged 54 Years. Also of EA Barrett, Solicitor, Bradford who died April 6 1867 in the 53 year of his age

It seemed best to begin with EA Barrett since I had a profession which aids identification enormously. In the Lunds 1856 trade directory there was:

Edward Alexander Barratt, solicitor. Agent to Phoenix Fire Office etc. 3 Bridge St, r. Westfield House, Scholes, Cleckheaton

An earlier directory, Ibbetson 1850, also lists attorneys who include: ‘Barret, Edward Alexander; Charles Street’. Edward Alexander was born at Morton Banks, Bingley. He was mentioned in the Bradford Observer on several occasions in a purely professional capacity. In 1849 he was appointed Master Extraordinary of High Court of Chancery (whatever that means) and later, in connection with a case, his chambers are said to be at Hustler’s Buildings. He was admitted as a Freemason to Bradford’s Lodge of Hope in 1853, and he was certainly buried at St Paul’s, Shipley. The only slight puzzle was that his death took place in Newton le Willows and was registered in Warrington, Lancs. In his will he left an estate worth less than £450 to his wife.

It is Edward Alexander’s wife who provides some explanation of the tombstone dedication. She had been born Mary Matilda Lee and had been baptised at Holy Trinity, Low Moor in 1815, the daughter of Joseph Lee sen. & Judith Lee. Joseph gives his occupation as farmer. This is the record of her marriage in 1844 at St Peter’s Parish Church, Bradford.

Edward Alexander Barrett 30 Bachelor Father: John Barrett, solicitor

Mary Matilda Lee 29 Spinster. Father: Joseph Lee, woolstapler

The Joseph Lee on the tombstone cannot be Edward Alexander’s father in law but could easily have been a younger relative. Following their marriage Edward Alexander and Mary Matilda feature in the 1851 and 1861 censuses:

In 1851, Summerseat Place, Horton 

Edward Alexander Barrett 36, Attorney & Solicitor b Bingley. Mary Matilda Barrett 35 b. North Bierley

 In 1861, 95 Little Horton Lane.

Edward Alexander Barrett 46 b. Bingley. Mary M Barrett 46 b. Wibsey

The couple don’t seem to have had any children of their own but in 1861 a niece and a nephew are living with them. The niece is called Juliana and is 13 years of age. Edward Alexander died in 1867. By 1881 his widow is living, like me, in Heaton. Her address was 8 Heaton Grove, a very pleasant place. With her are a variety of nephews and nieces with the surname Smith including Juliana (32), and an unmarried 30 year old niece called Emma Lee. Both these two young ladies were born in America, possibly ‘Mass’. This is perfectly plausible since Bradford had strong links with Lawrence, Massachusetts, another textile town. Our last sight of her is at age 76 in the 1891 census when she is living with her sister Juliana Fairbanks in Manningham.

To explore the Lee family I looked again at the wedding record. As I knew Mary Matilda’s father was called Joseph Lee sen. He is easy to find three years earlier in the 1841 Bradford census:

Joseph Lee 65 woolstapler

Joseph Lee 20

Mary Lee 25

Juliana Lee 15

Charles Lee 15

Something illegible 10

I assume that Mary Lee is Mary Matilda Lee so immediately there is a second man, Joseph Lee jun., who must have been born around 1820. From the tombstone Joseph would be expected to have been born in 1811 but birthdates in the 1841 census are often imprecise. It is quite possible that there is a baptism record for him:

Wibsey Chapel 1810 Joseph son of Joseph Lee, Woodside, manufacturer

If this is correct, which I think it is, an older sister Emma is missing from the census record since she had already married. Wibsey is adjacent to North Bierley and Low Moor. Mary Matilda was to give both Wibsey and North Bierley as her places of birth. We can learn a little more about Joseph jun. from a death notice in the Bradford Observer in January 1865: ‘Joseph Lee, stuff finisher, Spring Row Manningham’. Lee is a common surname: the Lunds Directory of 1856 includes 20 but only one Joseph:

 Joseph Lee 13 Infirmary St (no occupation is given)

Infirmary Street is in Manningham and not very far from Spring Row which still exists. Knowing of the importance in Freemasonry of squares and angles I wondered if this might explain Pythagoras. But Joseph Lee jun. wasn’t a freemason at Lodge of Hope although if Edward Alexander designed the gravestone he might have added the right-angled triangle on his own account. The last possible information about our man comes from the 1861 census. Emma born in the USA confirms it is the right family.

Joseph Lee 50 years, 148 Salt St Manningham, Stuff presser b. Yorks

Wife Eleanor 32 b. Ireland

Emma 10 b.USA

Theresa 1 b. Yorks

Salt Street still exists and is close to Infirmary Street and Spring Row. Stuff is worsted cloth, a Bradford speciality. Pressing it seems a bit of a come down for a woolstapler’s son perhaps. Bradford had a large Irish community so having an Irish wife is no problem although they may equally well have met in the US since I cannot find their marriage in the Bradford records. Could Joseph have been travelling in the US on his father’s account when Emma was born? What the relationship between Joseph Lee and Edward Alexander Barrett might have been is pure speculation but ‘in death they were not divided’.

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Can we make any progress with the other people commemorated?

In memory of Alfred William Lee, Of Bradford who departed this life Nov 16 1858 aged 27 years. Also of Annette Matilda Pickles The beloved daughter of Joseph & Emma Pickles, niece of the above who departed this life Jan 26 1861 In the 18 year of her age

Also of Annette Matilda Pickles Who died Dec? 1871 aged 18 months

They would all seem to have been related to Mary Matilda Barrett (born Lee), 1815-1898, whose parents (you will remember) were Joseph Lee and Judith Lee. They had a large family and the members important in this search were:

Emma Lee

Joseph Lee (1810-65)

Mary Matilda Lee

Juliana Sophia Lee,  born Ghent, Belgium

Alfred William Lee,  born France

In 1836 Joseph Pickles, cordwainer, married Emma Lee at the Bradford Parish church. Emma was a child of Joseph and Judith Lee born in 1813 and baptised at Cleckheaton although Joseph sen. stated that he was a worsted manufacturer of Woodside Wibsey. Annette Matilda Pickles was the daughter of Emma and Joseph born in 1843 according to the tombstone. In the 1851 census she was living with her grandparents. I’m not sure why this was since her parents reappear in the 1871 census, a decade after her death in 1861.

24 Spring Row, Manningham 

Joseph Pickles         57           Cordwainer

Emma Pickles          57           Wife

Emily S                   26 unm    Book-binder                    Daut

Herbert C                24 mar     Stuff warehouseman       Son

Eliza L                     23 mar                                           Daut

Annette M Pickles    10/12                                            Grandd

Mary J Lee              11    Scholar                                   Niece

Sadly the 10 months old baby was to die within a few months and is also buried in Shipley. In 1849 the Bradford Observer recorded that at Halifax Parish Church a Joseph Fairbanks married Juliana Sophia, youngest daughter of Mr Joseph Lee, Wester Croft, Halifax. Despite the change of wife the address confirms this record from the 1851 Census.

 7 Wester Croft, Shelf

Joseph Lee              65    Head Farmer of 20 acres b. N.Bierley

Judith Lee               59    Farmer’s wife b. Idle

Alfred William Lee    19    Son  b. France (British Subject)

Annett Matilda Pickles 7  Granddaughter  b.Manningham

So I think I have identified Alfred William Lee and the elder Annette Matilda Pickles from the tombstone. There is plenty of work left to do if a dedicated family historian were to develop an interest in this family.



The House of Treasures: Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley



Before the local government reorganisation of 1974 museums and galleries in Bradford, Keighley and Ilkley had an entirely separate existence. After 1974 they all fell within the area and responsibility of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. The Manor House at Ilkley recently closed as a museum, although hopefully it will remain as a community space run by a Volunteer Trust. Bradford MDC is responsible for four principle sites: Cartwright Hall Gallery, Bradford Industrial Museum, Bolling Hall and Cliffe Castle, Keighley. There are, of course, also museums of regional note which are not run by the local authority, such as Haworth Parsonage, The Peace Museum, Salt’s Gallery and Bradford Media Museum. The roles of museums and galleries within the city of Bradford have naturally changed over the years, and since 2008 financial constraints have been a constant presence.

Cliffe Castle Museum at Keighley is remarkable for the range of its exhibits and for the delightful park in which it is situated. The Grade II listed building, then called Cliffe Hall, was built around 1828-35 in the Gothic style for attorney Christopher Netherwood, who had a reputation for extravagance. Inevitably he ran into financial difficulties and in 1848 the house was acquired by his tenant, wealthy textile manufacturer and merchant Henry Isaac Butterfield (1819-1910). Butterfield employed George Smith, a Bradford architect. In the 1870s they transformed the building by adding towers, a ballroom, an ornate entrance and various conservatories; he also purchased several adjacent plots of land to enlarge the park. Henry Isaac Butterfield had married Mary Roosevelt Burke who was related to the US President Teddy Roosevelt. The couple lived in Paris and Nice, and were extremely well connected. Their son is said to have received many packing cases from his father filled with extraordinary artefacts with which to equip his Keighley house. Henry Isaac spent much time in the USA and Europe, and in fact it was this son, Sir Frederick Butterfield (1858-1943), who after 1910 made Cliffe Castle his permanent home. Frederick must also have been a remarkable man. He had degrees from Leipzig and Oxford Universities and, at various times, was a US Consul and a Mayor of Keighley. He was knighted in 1922.

In due course Sir Frederick had a daughter of his own, Marie-Louise Roosevelt Butterfield, who as a child had been a friend of Lewis Carroll. She succeeded to the estate on her father’s death in 1943. By marriage Marie-Louise became the Countess of Manvers living at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire, the historic home of the Pierrepont family. She was a talented artist and paintings of the interior of her childhood home at Keighley have enabled the authentic restoration of several rooms. Countess Manvers died in 1984. In 1949 the building and park were acquired by Keighley Corporation with the assistance Sir Bracewell Smith. Conversion to a public museum, which opened in 1959, entailed the demolition of some parts of the house, for example the winter gardens and one of the original towers, but a great deal was preserved. Much of the house contents were sold off but over the years it has been possible to purchase back significant amounts of this original material although some items, Chinese ceramics and paintings for example, were of such value that this will never be possible. Several rooms have been restored to their original beauty. Perhaps the most extraordinary single item is a malachite fireplace, returned to its original position only in the last few years. The Butterfields’ ballroom is now a unique collection of Victorian stuffed birds and animals. Such a collection could never be assembled today since ideas over the appropriate presentation of natural history have changed so radically. 


Although Keighley history and life is understandably the strongest thread at Cliffe Castle there are also quite strong ties with the City of Bradford. The much admired mineral collection (which must be the finest in a provincial museum) came largely from George Hinchcliffe’s private collection in Heaton, Bradford. There is a separate collection of Coal Measures fossils which are an essential resource for those interested in West Yorkshire coal mining. As an example of the far sighted imagination of the staff the geological ages of the earth are represented by a beautiful tapestry, if that is the correct technical term.

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Local industries, like lime, quarrying and brick-making, are also extremely well covered. Many of the archaeological exhibits must originate from Sidney Jackson’s collection, when he was the famous curator at Cartwright Hall in the 1950-60s. His collection of carved stone heads still have a presence but whether they have a ‘Celtic’ origin as Jackson believed is open to question. Today Cartwright Hall is solely an art gallery, but Cliffe Castle itself has a significant collection of paintings in a rotunda gallery. Objects of especial archaeological note at Cliffe Castle are: the Stanbury Bronze Age cremation burial, cup & ring marked stones, Neolithic & Bronze Age axes, the Riddlesden Hoard of Roman denarii, and the Silsden Hoard of Iron Age gold coins.


Over the last two years there has been a HLF funded conservation project in the park. This has seen the restoration of original buildings, conservatories, water-features, and statues of the park. All have been brought back to their original Victorian splendour and the much-loved café is restored to its former glory. If you don’t know Cliffe Castle I cannot believe you would regret an outing; the extraordinary collection of Victorian stained glass is worth a visit on its own.


History on a Glass Slide

Nearly sixty years ago I was a schoolboy with an enthusiasm for chemistry, natural history, and zoology. Like several of my school-friends I consequently developed an interest in microscopy. At that time obtaining a pre-War brass microscope, with excellent optics, was not too difficult nor too expensive. The first examples I owned were bought for me by my supportive father as a generous return for some minor academic success. Learning about the subject was relatively straightforward since the local library stocked a selection of books on the subject. I doubt if this would still be true today but then today we have the silicon chip.

Obtaining mounted specimens for examination was not quite so easy. I still have a small collection of aged glass slides obtained second or third hand in my home town, but eventually I learned to prepare quite reasonable specimens myself, at school or at home. At university and medical school, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, microscopy was a very useful skill and I collected a great many prepared slides exhibiting various aspects of human morbid histology. As a hobby the pleasures of microscopy gradually diminished; my last regular exposure must have consisted of the polarised light examination of geological specimens during the first year of my degree course in archaeological sciences (2004). Recently I have started to wonder if the microscope slides I collected so many years ago had any historical interest.


The provenance of several of these slides, like the above plant stem section, was easy to establish. They were produced by a man called Furze and are nearly 170 years old! John Noakes Furze (1817-1859) was a London microscopist. An excellent article concerning him by Brian Stevenson is available on-line:


Furze seemingly had an Oxford education and a career in brewing. His microscopic slides are known by their distinctive green oval labels. I assume that selling them constituted a business venture, and they are known to have been produced by skilled and professional makers. Sadly Furze died a relatively young man in 1859. My own examples of his products date from 1852 & 53.

A number of my glass slides lack sticky labels and the specimen information is drawn directly onto the glass with a diamond point. The thin glass covering the specimens look rather irregular and may have been hand made. These slides appear to be even older that Furze’s. One of them mentions a creature discovered by a ‘Prof. Amici’ and I have tracked down a microscopist of this name to Modena, Italy in 1839. The creature concerned would seem to be some type of diatom.


Another slide mentions fossil wood from Van Diemen’s Land. This place has officially been Tasmania since 1856. I have a separate group of slides representing animal pathology and histology, presumably once the property of a zoologist or vet. They can be approximately dated by some of the dyes used to stain the specimens. Carmine is an ancient dye obtained from scale insects, and haematoxylin is also natural being obtained from South American logwood. It has been used as a cell nuclear stain since the 1850s. Eosin and methylene blue are synthetic products of the 1870s. Specimens stained with all these dyes are probably no older than the late nineteenth century; an example is this section of spleen treated with picric acid and carmine.


Those interested in microscopy in the twentieth century will recall the name of Flatters & Garnett Ltd. This Manchester based scientific instrument company operated in the years 1901-1967 and had an extensive catalogue based mail-order business. The founders of the company (Abraham Flatters and Charles Garnett) were Victorians of the generation after John Furze. They operated from several premises but their famous address was Oxford Road. I have a small collection of their microscope slides in addition to the older examples.

In the Bradford Observer the first use of the word ‘microscope’ occurs in the 1830s. It seems that public exhibition of magnified objects was very popular, using a hydro-oxygen microscope which I assume could produce a bright projectable image. By 1842 the Leeds Philosophical & Literary Society were hearing serious lectures on the subject of ‘Late discoveries by the microscope’. The first locally published use of the word ‘microscope’ itself I can find is in 1839 when one instrument was an item listed for sale along with the rest of the contents of The Lodge, Westgate, ‘home of Mrs Captain Priestley’. I know that a number of microscopical societies grew up later in the nineteenth century. For example Manchester Microscopical & Natural History Society was founded in 1880. All things considered this hobby might well be worth taking up again.


Tracks into history

1852 Bowling Dye House

I’m not really a railway enthusiast so I had better start with an apology to any readers who are. Frankly I don’t find the early history of Bradford’s rail links an easy topic; the companies involved seem constantly to change names and move the location of their stations. Very naturally the creation of early railway lines generated maps and plans, many of which have survived. Even here I have a problem since tracks seem to appear on maps which are notionally of an earlier date. Despite these difficulties I want to describe the early lines entering Bradford from the south because of the interesting light they shed on the city’s industrial past.

The first image is a detail from the 1852 Ordnance Survey map. This shows Bowling junction, although it is not named. Two, seemingly single, rail tracks, are mapped. The first is the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway line which connected Halifax to Bradford and its terminus, Drake Street (later Exchange) Station, which opened in 1850. The second line moving off to the right went from Bowling junction to Leeds, via Laisterdyke, and was opened a few years later in 1854. It was operated by the same company and, I presume, allowed trains to travel from Leeds to Halifax direct, by-passing Bradford. The line no longer exists but the track is visible on aerial photographs. There are two noteworthy features. At the junction a limestone quarry is mapped. Limestone strata do not reach the surface in the Bradford area but there was nonetheless an early lime-burning industry based on the extraction of boulders from glacial moraines in the Aire valley. Boulder pits were well established in Bingley by the early seventeenth century. It looks as if glacial erratic limestone boulders were found elsewhere and were exploited in the same way; in this case the digging of a railway cutting exposed valuable lime. Plausibly these boulders were taken to the nearby Bowling Iron Company where crushed lime was used as a flux in iron smelting. Slightly further north is Spring Wood. The name has almost certainly nothing whatever to do with the water supply. ‘Spring’ was applied to a tree that had been cut off at ground level for coppicing. So the area indicated on the map was presumably an area of old coppice woodland. William Cudworth records that there was once a Springwood Coal Pit, but the wood itself soon disappears from maps.

The next plan is from the Local Studies Library reserve collection. If you imagine it turned 90º clockwise it is clearly the same view as before. You can easily identify the two railway tracks and also the Bowling Dye works. The names of the railway company involved here is West Riding Union Railway. As I understand it this title was only employed for a brief period around 1845-47. This and other evidence suggests that this map is a few years earlier than that of the OS.

Ripleyville Roads 4

This second map shows the Bowling Iron Company colliery railway very clearly, which took coal to the Bowling Depot on Queens Street where I assume it was available to local merchants. The Bowling Dye Works and the Bowling New Dye House were both parts of the Ripley family enterprises (Edward Ripley & Co). What are obviously missing are the large reservoir and dye pits which are such a prominent feature in the OS map. When were these created? The Bradford Observer reports a large sale of land in this area, including that accommodating the Dye Works, in 1850. The vendor isn’t stated but might well be the Bowling Iron Company. Probably the dye works boss, the famous Sir Wm. Henry Ripley, purchased land at this time to allow for the expansion of his business and the assurance of adequate soft water supplies, which included a reservoir. Historian William Cudworth records a 100 acre purchase by the Ripley company and also states that a contractor called Samuel Pearson constructed reservoirs for Bowling Dye Works and Bowling Iron Works at a date ‘early in the fifties’. We shall hear more of Samuel Pearson shortly. In pink on this map are marked a variety of planned new streets. Were these streets ever constructed? Presumably not. After 1863-64 Ripleyville, consisting of 200 houses and schools, was constructed by Sir Henry but the alignment of the streets in the 1887 borough map looks quite different.

PO 1887 Broomfield

This third map shows an area slightly further north. There have been further train track developments. The Great Northern Railway had opened its service to Leeds from Adolphus Street station in 1854 but the separate Midland Railway service, via Shipley, ended at a station more convenient to the town centre depriving GNR of customers. In consequence around 1867 a track loop was constructed connecting the GNR line and joining the L&Y track at Mill Lane junction, and nearby St Dunstan’s passenger transfer station was opened. The loop is clearly visible on the map north of Ripleyville. In describing the work involved in taking the GNR railway line from the Exchange Station towards Leeds, Horace Hird (Bradford in History, 1968) mentions the activities of Samuel Pearson & Son who took over responsibility for the material excavated from the necessary cutting. Their Broomfield brick works is clearly indicated on the map above the loop. The cutting material created a 'great mound' and for 15 years 60 men were employed making drain pipes, chimney pots and bricks from this material. The line seen curving away to the left edge of the map, opposite the brick works, services a series of coal drops which are still visible, off Mill Lane, in a ruinous state, today.

The Lund Directory of 1856 gives 'Broomfields' as the address of William Poulter, another Bradford brick-maker who lived quite near in Edward Street. Perhaps he first worked this site. Samuel Pearson himself was a Cleckheaton brick-maker who founded a contracting dynasty. His contracting business started in Silver Street, off Tabbs Lane, Scholes, in 1856. By 1860-63 Messrs. S. Pearson & Son were established at the Broomfield Works, Mill Lane (near St Dunstan's) for the manufacture of building bricks, sanitary tubes and terracotta goods. The works can be identified on the 1871 map of Bradford but closed shortly before the 1887 map was published, the ‘spoil bank’ being exhausted. The site is described as a 'disused brick-works' by the time of the 1895 OS map. Within a generation Pearson's had became an international contractor and was particularly associated with Mexico during the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. Canals, railways and oil were among the company’s many interests. After being created a baronet Samuel Pearson's grandson, Weetman Pearson, became the first Viscount Cowdray in 1917. The family seat became Cowdray House and park near Midhurst in West Sussex.

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For the final plan we return to the LSL Reserve Collection. It shows essentially the same area as the last. The plan is undated but the railway companies have their pre-nationalisation names, so it is earlier than 1948. Wakefield Road is referred to as the A650 and local historian Maggie Fleming suggests that this nomenclature makes the plan later than 1920. St Dunstan’s Station is still present, and in fact had another thirty years of life before closing in 1952. The site of Broomfields brick works is a blank, and is today a car park. The purpose of this plan seems to have been to show the course of a new road joining Bolling Road to Upper Castle Street. This also was never constructed.

Stone Terrace to Plate Glass: The evolution of the University of Bradford site

1852 Uni area

The UK’s ‘clearing system’ for university places is, at this very moment, determining the future education of thousands of young men and women. Those who will be lucky enough to walk the stately streets, grassy banks, and leafy paths within the University of Bradford campus, as I was in 2004-08, will hardly believe what a challenge to its future existence this institution faced even before it was truly born. The university began its life officially in 1966, the year I commenced my own first brush with higher education at a fenland academy. Prime Minister Harold Wilson was its midwife, and first Chancellor. Prior to that time the Bradford institution had a decade of life as a College of Advanced Technology (CAT). The CAT had, in turn, evolved from the Bradford Technical College which had been in existence since the 1870s, being founded by Sir Henry Mitchell. Education for adults in Bradford has even longer roots which can be traced back to the Mechanics Institute founded 50 years earlier.

Much of this part of the university’s history is shared with that of Bradford College. This is a FE and HE provider, also on Great Horton Road but a little closer to the city centre. Its impressive original building was opened in 1882 by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). The College already offers externally validated degree courses and, I understand, is hoping soon to become a fully independent body. How the Technical College came to split into both College and University I do not know: ‘old, unhappy, far off things’ I imagine. If its ambitions are fully realised will the two institutions one day form the physically closest pair of universities existing within a single British city? Anyway I’d now like to turn to the physical site on which the university is placed.

A good start to the analysis of the site is this detail from the first OS map of the area from 1852, placed at the top of this article. Although ‘Shear Bridge’ is a clue you would be forgiven for finding this map somewhat puzzling. The map is covered by long vanished field boundaries, presumably of drystone wall. The fields themselves have the regular shapes of enclosures. All the principle roads have different names. Great Horton Road was simply known as Horton Road, Longside Road was then Lady Lane and Richmond Road, now at the very heart of the university, was called Chancellor Street. Note the long vanished cricket ground on the opposite side of Horton Road; at this time overarm bowling was not yet legal! Bradford maps of this age are usually covered by old mining and quarrying sites. Here these extractive industries are rather modestly represented by a single old quarry at the top left. It is important to note Ashfield Terrace since this also appears in a second map from a generation earlier which is held by the Bradford Local Studies Library.

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This detail shows Ashfield Place in the 1840s when Great Horton Road was the Leeds & Halifax Old Turnpike. You can just make out Norcroft Street at the top, which is Richmond Road in another of its previous incarnations (note the kink). The name Norcroft survives to the present day, but applied to a different roadway. The various unnamed streets don’t seem eventually to have been created in exactly these positions. The original landowners are mentioned. Colonel Thomas George Fitzgerald of Turlough, Ireland, who married Elizabeth the daughter of Dr James Crowther MD of Bolshay Hall. The names of both men appear on the full map. On the back is written the name of ‘Mrs Giles’. Ann Giles came, by a rather circuitous route, into much of the property once owned by the Sharp family of Horton Hall. In 1839 an Act was passed for disposing of the Giles estate at Horton, owing to the great increase of buildings in the immediate vicinity. The property extended over many portions of Horton, including that fringing both sides of Horton Lane and the site of the future workhouse (now St Luke’s Hospital). On the left of the map is a waterway. The Bradford Beck proper flows into the city to the south of Thornton Road and, out of sight in culverts, it turns almost 90 degrees about and flows out towards Shipley to meet the River Aire. This map shows its main tributary, the West Brook (itself formed from the junction of Horton Beck and Shear Beck) which was still visible in my day gently washing the front of the Phoenix Building, where the Archaeological Science Department was based. It eventually joins the Bradford Beck near the site of the old Bee Hive Worsted Mills, Thornton Road. In the third map of 1905 you should be able to make out the Bee Hive Mills. The Technical College is now built and opposite it is Bradford School of Art. Richmond Road has finally acquired its modern name.

1905 Uni area

The site of the future university buildings, the land between Richmond Road and Shearbridge Road, is now filled with terrace housing. This has long been demolished but fragments emerge when modern excavations are undertaken for new buildings. From the amount of iron making slag that also appears I would guess that the ground levels have been altered on several parts of the site. The final map is one of a large series, perhaps from the early 1960s and held by the LSL, in which the termination of a planned M606 motorway is drawn at Staygate roundabout, together with a variety of new city duel carriageways. Some were constructed, others remained merely a dream in the planners’ eye: fortunately for the future university as it turned out.

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This plan seems to have been based on the 1957 OS map and I was surprised to learn how long the housing and business premises survived on the future campus site. I hope you can make out a ghostly roundabout at the bottom left. There a substantial road would leave Morley Road at right angles and travel along Claremont chewing up gardens in its passage. It appears to pass in a cutting under Great Horton Road and then down Richmond Road itself. The gradient is quite steep here and the presence of hachures suggests that the road would soon have been elevated onto an embankment. It would finally sweep round right to a major double roundabout at the junction of Listerhills Road and Thornton Road. Those of you that know the area will appreciate that none of this ever even flickered into existence. Possible other plans for demolishing the housing and building the university made the planners in the 1960s think again. You simple cannot have dreaming spires, or dreaming reinforced concrete and plate glass, so close to an elevated section of a major road.

The Bradford Poisonings

2013-07-12 Eyam, Derbys.

I have few claims to any notoriety but being one of the last dermatologists to prescribe Fowler’s solution (1% potassium arsenite) medicinally might be one. I was very young and the instructions were from someone very senior. Explaining what I was doing to the patient’s relatives required a certain amount of verbal creativity. I have recently been enjoying a most scholarly guide to the poisons used in the novels of Agatha Christie (A Is For Arsenic, Kathryn Markup: Bloomsbury Sigma 2015) which naturally put this into my mind. Since the author is nothing if not comprehensive she also included the notorious Bradford poisonings. She doesn’t mention a source for her information but this could easily be The Bradford Poisonings of 1858 by George Sheeran (Ryburn 1992). George Sheeran is a local academic and lecturer whose publications normally involve architectural history. His work is always meticulously researched and can be thoroughly recommended.

To understand the sad events of 1858 you need to know that the adulteration of food with cheaper materials was once a common practice. There is this story about Jimmy, apprenticed to a religious grocer:

‘Jimmy have you sanded the sugar.’


‘And have you watered the milk.’


‘Then come upstairs to prayers.’

The practice could have fatal consequences and the regular mixing of a substance known as ‘daft’ into batches of cheap sweets was the indirect cause of a fatal outbreak of arsenic poisoning in mid-nineteenth century Bradford.

In words it is difficult to do justice to central Bradford in 1858: a smoky, foetid, hell-hole comes somewhere near it. Happy the textile workers who, seven years before, had moved with Titus Salt to his new model industrial settlement on the banks of the river at Saltaire. At this time Joseph Neal was a sweet manufacturer in Stone Street near Salem Chapel, Manor Row. One of his most popular lines were peppermint lozenges. At the best of times these couldn’t be exactly described as wholesome sweetmeats since mixed in with the sugar and water was some form of ground up lime called ‘daft’. Lime must have been cheap, gritty and tasteless, but not dangerous. Having been given a big order for the lozenges Neal sent his lodger off to Shipley to buy ‘daft’ from a druggist, Charles Hodgson. All would have been well had Hodgson been present in person, but he was unwell and his apprentice, William Goddard was left in charge. When asked for ‘daft’ he forgot all that he had been told and accidentally sold another white powder from a cask in the attic, arsenious trioxide.

Most catastrophes require a series of misadventures to bring them about. In this case the first two were Hodgson’s illness and Goddard’s faulty memory. The third was the absence of clear labels on the two casks. The fourth involved James Appleton, the employee who actually made the sweets. He noticed that the ‘daft’ was smoother and finer than usual, but drew no conclusions from his observations. The fifth opportunity to prevent the disaster was the sickness Appleton and his boss Joseph Neal experienced after handling the newly made sweets. Forty pounds of lozenges were allowed to dry and harden and were then sold to William Hardacre (‘Humbug Billy’) who had a stall at Green Market (later the site of Rawson Market). The sixth opportunity was that Billy didn’t like the colour of his purchase, getting them cheap, and became ill himself after trying one. This universal lack of comprehension finally resulted in disaster. Humbug Billy’s assistant started selling the lozenges off in 2oz quantities.

We now meet our three heroes. Dr John Henry Bell was called to see some mortally ill children in Jowett Street the following day, Sunday. Dr Bell suspected arsenic poisoning and took samples to our second hero, analyst Felix Rimmington. Rimmington confirmed the clinical diagnosis and the police were informed. Collectively the Bradford police were the ‘third hero’. A PC Campbell visit Humbug Billy at his house in North Wing and seized more than 35lb of lozenges. Remaining portions were found at the manufacturer’s shop and were also seized: the manufacturer Neal being strangely absent. Following the trail, by 8.00pm the mistake at the Shipley druggist’s was uncovered. The Chief Constable, a man of instant action, immediately sent officers round the beer-houses, informed street criers, and ordered bills to be stuck up round the borough on Monday. These actions must surely have saved many lives.

Exact facts and figures are difficult to acquire but about 200 people were affected, of whom about 20 died. Many were very ill in neighbouring parishes but the fatalities were confined to Bradford itself. Public opinion was, very naturally, that someone must be to blame. Most of those implicated were purely following their masters’ orders and only the owner of the druggist’s shop, Charles Hodgson, was ever accused of manslaughter. But when at York assizes it was demonstrated that he had cautioned his assistant about the two casks the judge ruled he had no case to answer. The helpful consequence of these events was that they promoted parliament to pass the Adulteration of Food & Drink Bill in 1859.

Toads and Chapels

City 1800

In the 170 years since Bradford became a borough in 1847 its centre has changed, almost beyond recognition. New buildings have been erected and old ones demolished. The Bradford Beck has disappeared underground into a culvert. New thoroughfares have been created, Sunbridge Road being a good example, and others have been re-positioned, lengthened, or have disappeared entirely. Change has been a continuous process but it was clearly accelerated in the 1960s as a result of wholesale town planning. I should like to recount something of this story by describing the events that befell a thoroughfare originally called Toad Lane. This is an odd name but it is not unique; there are, or were, Toad Lanes in Bingley, Newark and Rochdale. Possibly the name is a corruption of t’old lane. I anticipate that even local readers will ask ‘where’s that?’ when they read of this designation, so I shall start with a detail of the Bradford town map of 1800.

In this map it is easy to see the acute angle made by the Turls (Tyrrel Street) and Toad Lane. This takes its origin at a point where Little Horton Lane and Manchester Road enter the town. It would appear that Toad Lane was already being referred to as ‘Chapel Lane’ at that early date. Building (3) is a Unitarian Chapel, which had previously been the Toad Lane Presbyterian Chapel. As far as I can establish it was originally built as early as 1717, being replaced by a larger more modern structure in 1869, and finally demolished a century later. The name Toad Lane soon became restricted to the road leaving at right-angles above the ‘L’ in Lane. At the other end of the lane Goodman’s End has long been subsumed into Wakefield Road. An existing town hall is numbered (35) in this map but there is a small puzzle here. The map is from 1800 but the Act of Parliament that appointed commissioners for levying rates, and improving Bradford roads and lighting, was only passed in 1805. Also these commissioners, a sort of primitive town council, are said to have met first at the Bull’s Head Inn, Westgate.  At the first meeting, according to historian Horace Hird, the commissioners drew up a list of major Bradford roads, which included Chapel Lane. The same commissioners may have met in the Chapel Lane building until the ‘Station House’ in Swaine Street was erected in 1838, and become the location of their deliberations. The Station House was also used for a fire engine and was built on land leased from Rev. Godfrey Wright, who regularly features in these articles.

Building (20) is the Bowling Green Hotel which completes what I shall call ‘the central triangle’. This was located at the end of Bridge Street. Cudworth mentions that in the 1830s the hotel owner was a Mrs Susannah Ward, widow of Joseph Ward. William Scruton, in Pen & Pencil Pictures of Old Bradford, pushes its existence still further back into the seventeenth century. He regarded the Bowling Green as ‘the best inn of the town’. It was used by the Royal Mail and the open space in front of the inn, which presumably was once a bowling green, came to be employed for political meetings.

The road names persisted unchanged until the mid-nineteenth century which is represented by the next map. It is perfectly clear that there has been extensive rebuilding in the central triangle. The Bradford Observer (1844) observed that the premises of DH Smith at the corner of Toad Lane were ‘striking and elegant’. Elsewhere a ‘Smith’s Tavern and Beerhouse’ is noted, which I assume was the same building. Other premises were clearly far from elegant. In 1847 the Poor Law Commissioners considered it a possible site for a ‘vagrants yard’, and in 1855 a ton and a half of ‘vile bones’ were removed from the premises of John Boyd. The Lunds 1856 Directory of Bradford lists John Boyd as a ‘rag dealer’ but describes the location of his business by the alternative name as Chapel Lane. The same source gives Rev. JH Ryland as the non-resident minister at the chapel. There is also an architects’ partnership (Stott & Illingworth) and a painter (John Edwards) but otherwise the residents are all tradesmen: plumbers, hair dressers, boot-makers, saddlers, pawnbrokers and so forth. I’m not sure if the ‘Old Foundry’ (Cliff’s Foundry) included in the map was still functioning in the town centre, according to Hird it was. The name Toad Lane still exists making an acute angle with Norfolk Street.

Map 3

The next development represented a huge change. Bradford borough council decided that a purpose built town hall was required to supported the rapidly growing urban area. A number of sites were considered but Chapel Lane or the Bowling Green were the front runners. Finally a competition was launched to design a hall to be built on the Chapel Lane site. The winning design was opened by the Mayor, Matthew Thompson, in 1873. The architects were the famous Bradford partnership of Lockwood & Mawson who had already designed the Wool Exchange (1867). The contractor was John Ives of Shipley. In his book Bradford in History Hird describes the whole process and provides illustrations of the runners-up. It seems that all the considered designs were for Gothic buildings including a tower. The stone for the winner came from Cliff Wood quarries but at present I do not have sources for the structure’s glass, metal work and ornamental marbles, nor the million bricks incorporated into it.  The Unitarian Chapel and Chapel Lane itself were left after this construction as can be seen from the next plan from 1906.

City 1906

Bradford became a city in 1897. The increase in council business required an extension to the building, opened in 1909. This provided more committee rooms and a banqueting hall. The designer was Richard Norman Shaw. As you can see from the map above a stub of Chapel Lane remained, and the chapel itself is now south-east of Town Hall Square. 


The photograph shows the extension seen from Nelson Street. The clock tower is shrouded for a recently completed renovation. A further extension was constructed in 1914 but this does not seem to have affected the plan of the building which is essentially the same in the 1930 OS map with Chapel Lane now opening off Norfolk Street. The nearby Alhambra Theatre must have been built at about the same time. The Unitarian chapel was finally demolished in 1969. I assume that Chapel Lane also survived until the reorganisations of the late 1960s when wholesale clearances took place associated with the name of SG Wardley, the City surveyor and engineer. This must have been required to create the space that became Centenary Square, the Magistrates Court and Coroner’s Office building, Norfolk Gardens and the Hall Ings extension. The court building, which was opened in 1972, retains ‘The Tyrls’ as its address: the third spelling used since 1800!

Roman Days in Bradford

Fig 2a Trajan Denar Obverse

This coin shows the emperor Trajan whose adopted son Hadrian constructed the famous Wall. Britain contributed a province, or provinces, to the Roman Empire from the time of the emperor Claudius’s invasion in 43 until a notional date of 410. The influence of Rome, if not its government, may have been apparent in Britain for at least a century before the invasion, and there is archaeological evidence that the eastern empire maintained trading links, with west Britain at least, for years after the fall of the western empire in 476. Roman coins, both hoards and casual losses, have been recorded from the neighbourhood of Bradford since the eighteenth century. However, with the exception of the auxiliary fort at Ilkley, there is little evidence of local engagement with Roman culture. The recent additions of the Silsden Iron Age coin hoard and the Riddlesden hoard of Roman denarii to the display collection at Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley has made me wonder to what extent are local coin data accessible or relevant to local historians who are not numismatists or Roman specialists?

Neither the city of Bradford nor county of West Yorkshire resemble, in area or type, any polity that existed in the Roman Iron Age (RIA). Both were then within the territory of a tribe, or tribal confederation, which the Romans called the Brigantes. Its principal centre was at Stanwick, far to the north, but the Roman authorities created a new capital for them at Aldborough. The historian Tacitus suggested, quite plausibly, that the confederation contained pro-Roman and anti-Roman elements. In his account Queen Cartimandua is associated with support for Rome and she had to be assisted by Roman troops on two occasions even before Tacitus’s father in-law Agricola began the occupation of Brigantian territory of the Brigantes in campaigns of 77-78. It seems certain that Yorkshire in the Iron Age and RIA showed marked regional variation. Halkon has argued very persuasively that East Yorkshire was a recognisably distinct entity in both periods. Some years after West Yorkshire came into being a detailed archaeological survey was published describing the new county up to 1500. The RIA section includes a map of Roman coin find spots and the probable courses of roads but little else relating to the Bradford district. A valuable recent paper commenting on the contributions of modern, developer funded, commercial archaeology to our knowledge of Roman West Yorkshire notes only a single site near to Bradford and virtually nothing in the South Pennines. In the east of the county several major road schemes have been preceded by detailed archaeological assessment. Almost all the sites are on low lying land east of a line connecting Leeds and Sheffield, and consist of dense areas of rural, non-villa, settlement. I suppose there is really no reason to suppose that this pattern did not continue into the western part of the county but evidence is lacking.

There are Roman fort sites in the west such as Adel, Ilkley and Slack, where road or river links generated important military centres. But, to the best of my knowledge, in the whole of West Yorkshire there is not a single civil town and only one certain villa site, at Dalton Parlours, Collingham. Virtually all that is known of the Bradford Metropolitan District in the RIA is that it was crossed by secondary roads and included the auxiliary fort, presumably with a civilian extra-mural settlement, at Ilkley. I think it is a reasonable supposition that the purchasing power of the army, and civilian road use, would have exposed Iron Age Bradfordians to changes of dress, ornamentation and diet. But the area would seem to qualify as ‘an upland military zone where the indigenous population continued their old way of life in remote and isolated settlements’. Did those concerned deliberately reject Roman culture or were their numbers too few, and their situation too remote and isolated, to promote the experience?

Iron Age and RIA settlements and fields were normally bounded by ditches and banks. Farmers in upland areas like Bradford are perhaps more likely to have raised stock than to have cultivated cereals, but barley was grown here in historic times and in the Roman period spelt wheat was planted which is cold tolerant. Gritstone querns, grain grinding stones, are indestructible and are found all over Yorkshire where they effectively form a proxy for cereal cultivation. Land being manured in a Roman fashion should be identifiable by spreads of RIA potsherds. The farming practices of the Iron Age seem to have continued unaltered for a long period but unexplained changes, or land abandonment, occur in the late third or early fourth centuries.

While Britain was an imperial possession millions of coins will have been in circulation, principally providing pay or stipendium for an army of many thousands. Although in rural Iron Age society a barter economy probably continued after the conquest, it is certain that soldiers, officials and ‘Romanised’ Britons would have employed coins for gifts, religious donations, and to exchange for goods and services. Towards the end of the Roman period inflation meant that coinage payments to soldiers became almost inconsequential, compared to precious metal donatives given by new emperors and the annona militaris which consisted of payment in kind. This fact must have influenced the number of coins circulating. This coin portrays Julia Domna. She was the wife of Septimius Severus, one of two emperors to die in York.

Fig. 3 Julia Domna

Gold and silver coins, then as now, had an intrinsic value as bullion. The army and civil service was paid in precious metals, and these were subsequently collected as part of official taxation. A low-value, base metal, coinage was needed for everyday use but such coins naturally circulated for only so long as people had confidence in their ultimate capacity to exchange these worthless items for gold. Roman archaeology is rich and varied but coins occupy a unique place among its artefacts. Portraits, lettering, and the overall resemblance to modern money, seems to bring the Roman world very close to ours. Even detailed records of single coin finds provide very little information unless one is lucky enough to discover an issue that was previously unknown. The classic recent example was the discovery in Oxfordshire of a coin issued by a hitherto unrecorded emperor, Domitianus II. Unlike modern examples Roman coins are not stamped with a year of issue, but the emperor’s name, and the various titles awarded to him, usually permit dating within a year or two.

Coin hoards should be separated from casual losses since hoards were evidently not mislaid but buried deliberately. It was once assumed that coin collections were concealed in times of trouble, but many seem to date from relatively peaceable periods. A sacrifice to chthonic gods is possible or perhaps, in the absence of banks, some may simply represent a reasonably safe way of protecting surplus cash without the knowledge of Roman taxation officials. Evidently hoards must have entered the ground after the date of the latest coin. It is known that coin hoards in Britain are common (more than 1600 discovered) when compared with other Roman provinces. In the past hoards were frequently discovered by ploughing or quarrying but as a means of discovery both activities have now been superseded by metal detecting. There is acceptable evidence for ten hoards from the Bradford area, including one very recent example. The most famous collection of this type is the Bingley or Elam Hoard. This was found at Morton Bank, between Keighley and Bingley, during ploughing in March 1775. The silver coins had been placed in a copper or metal bound chest and represented 100 lb weight. The hoard is now lost but apparently included almost every emperor from Nero in 54 to Pupienus in 238; accompanying the coins was a silver image, six inches long. This hoard has been considered as representing accumulated wealth on its way to a place of safety in a time of trouble, but this is interpretative speculation.

Fig.4 Riddlesden Hoard

The recent Riddlesden hoard (illustrated) consists of 110 silver denarii, the first scatter of nine were found by metal detecting in 2014. The finds were promptly reported to the local Finds Liaison Officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and excavations by the members of the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service were undertaken. No archaeological features were found but more coins were recovered. The hoard might possibly be remnants of the Bingley Hoard reported from the same general area; the Riddlesden Hoard has a very similar composition. It consist solely of denarii, ranging from the reign of Vespasian (77/8) to the first half of the reign of Maximinus I Thrax (235/6). This later date is within a decade of the time when denarii ceased to be struck. The Riddlesden hoard is on display at Cliffe Castle museum as is an Iron Age coin hoard almost certainly buried early in the Roman period. This, the Silsden Hoard, consists of 27 gold coins together with a ring of Roman provenance. Most of the coins were issued by Cunobelin the ruler of the tribes named the Trinovantes and Catuvellani. His main centre of power was in Colchester, over 200 miles away. The Brigantes themselves are not thought to have struck coins.

Single coin finds are generally of low value copper alloy. In nearly 400 years of Roman occupation a great many losses of this type will have occurred, as happens in the present day. These should not be randomly placed but would be expected to aggregate in positions where coin carrying individuals were themselves common: along the course of Roman roads for example, or markets, religious sites, or at bridges and fords where the offering of small coins to tutelary deities might be anticipated. Coins that were casually lost may not be a representative selection of those available. Silver, and especially gold, issues were of great value and well worth a prolonged hunt if mislaid. Small denominations, the equivalents of today’s 1p or 2p coins, may have hardly been worth the effort of picking up if dropped. In Roman times the coinage of an unsuccessful pretender would almost certainly be de-monetised, indeed it may have been treasonable even to attempt to spend it. It might be more correct to say that such issues were discarded rather than lost. Coins found in secure sites at excavations, for example a building foundation trench, will not have moved and so provide excellent dating evidence. Coins of the British based pretenders Carausius (286-93) and Allectus (293-96), found in 1994 during an excavation of a section of Roman foundations at Pevensey Castle, strongly suggest this shore fort was constructed as a defence against other Romans. I found it quite difficult to draw up a reliable list of single coin finds in the Bradford area. My estimate is that there are about 115 and of these the find spots of 60 are known accurately enough for the coins to be mapped. These numbers are tiny in comparison with the number of finds from a coin rich location. No less than 55,000 coins were found at Richborough alone, although this is an exceptional site. The first coins lost in the Bradford area were issued by the emperor Nero. This is perfectly reasonable; the north of England was conquered by the late 70s and the earliest coins of Nero were minted after 64. They last coin find is a copper alloy coin of Arcadius, eastern emperor in 395-408, found in Manningham. It is an example of the Salus Reipublicae issue which marks the end of low value coins found in Britain.

Not one of Bradford’s coins is an excavation find and there is no possibility of using surface finds for dating purposes. What use can be made of the coins we have? Not much I am afraid. The total number of Bradford coins is really too small for valid conclusions to be drawn although there seems nothing exceptional about them. None of these coins was issued by a previously unknown ruler, or provided any new insights into the titles and campaigns of emperors, nor the hair-styles of empresses. Their presence is good evidence that some people in, or travelling through, the area were operating a money economy, and not depending on barter. Coin data are accessible but are of diminishing relevance to local historians with only an average knowledge of, and interest in, the Roman period. In fact there have even been major changes in the type of Roman history that concern enthusiasts. The contemporary feeling is that we should be concentrating on archaeological landscapes, not sites. Modern techniques like geophysics and aircraft mounted lasers (LiDAR scanning) provide a very powerful means of examining those landscapes. Studying a large area because it is selected for modern development is likely to produce a more realistic appreciation of rural life than investigating elite sites like villas. Finally the popularity of metal-detecting has provided the Portable Antiquities Scheme with hundreds of thousands of data points which can be computer processed, and mapped. What influence did Roman prestige goods have on Iron Age society in the pre-invasion period? How heterogeneous was RIA society in Britain and why? How did the economy function? Why was the army in Britain so large and, finally, by what processes did Roman Britain become Anglo-Saxon England?