video frame
Download description pdf

This film commemorates the 700th anniversary of Bradford Market.  It shows the Market during the celebrations, shoppers, and market stalls.  A group of dignitaries accompany the Mayor and Mayoress as they tour the Market.  After which, they gather together for dinner and speeches.

Titles:  ‘City of Bradford’,  ‘1251 – 1951 Market Charter’, ‘700th Anniversary Celebration’ (with the old Bradford City Arms and Crest in the background),  ‘A film record sponsored by Robert Sharp’ and ‘Photographed by F. G. Dewhirst’.

(Colour) The film begins with a horse drawn carriage coming down the street.  In the background there are cars driving by and shops with advertising hoardings.  Two women on horseback are dressed in historical costumes.  The Mayor and other dignitaries leave Bradford Town Hall and climb aboard the carriage.  They pass through the streets of Bradford, with several outriders on horses accompanied by the sound of a bugle being blown from on top of the carriage, making their way to Kirkgate Market passing Forster Square Station.  They arrive through streets which are lined with spectators.  Here they disembark from their carriage.  Shoppers are passing to and fro by the Market steps, and a flag (green with the Union Jack in one corner) flies above.

(B&W) Crowds fill the street, and inside, a woman poses with a smiling young girl for the camera.  Inside the Market the touring visitors sit in rows, some leafing through what look like anniversary booklets, whilst the Mayor makes a speech.  The group of dignitaries make their way around the decorated market crowded with shoppers.  Some stop to talk to the camera, and two of the women carry bouquets of flowers.

(Colour) As the group make their way around the market, there are many different types of stalls both inside and outside including:  rugs, furniture and fruit and vegetables.  The Mayor pays a visit to the Sharp’s lino stall and then walks through the market chatting to stall holders.  The woman serving at Hiltons Ice Cream stand poses for the camera.  Two green buses (numbers 63 and 78, with a ‘Tizer’ advert on the side) arrive at the Town Hall, and the touring group alight sand enters while cars pass in the background. 

(B&W) The Mayor and his wife get into their car, and a group of people pose for the camera.  In an empty hall, tables are set for dinner, the chairs are covered, and small groups stand chatting on the side.  The Mayor and his party take a look at models of a new building development.  People take their seats, and begin eating their soup before being served a second course.  Dinner is followed by speeches and toasts.  The waiters form a line for the camera.

(Colour) Walking around the market are inspectors with clip boards judging the stalls.  Among the well stocked stalls is Albert Ranson food store displaying the prices of the goods on offer.  On one stall rows of sliced ham are laid our below a sign stating, ‘Boiled Ham, 2/10 per qtr.’  The stalls have plentiful supplies of tins and jars.  Shoppers walk around, many with children.  Other stalls shown include: “Ye Olde Musik Shoppe”, a hat stall, a flower stall, fruit and vegetables, a butcher’s stall with meat and a display of black pudding, a fish stall with a variety of fish and crab.  A man trims a cabbage, another cleans a set of weighing scales.  A basketful of eggs on ration, lobsters and Harold Burn’s vegetables stall.

The inspectors leave and head towards the New Market Café.  There is a fish tank and more market stall displays, including Sharp’s Flooring, with a sign, ‘Sharp’s 1886 – 1951, Bradford’.  Two inspectors compare notes.  A man does a demonstration of a product with a sign stating, ‘As seen on TV’.  Other stalls include: a flower stall, a furniture stall, with other household items, where two men sit down on a sofa, one jokingly putting up a parasol, and Sefton’s shoe stall.

A sign announces the stall dressing competition which includes Millie’s fruit and vegetable stall and a clock made from flowers.  Then there is Greenhalgh Rug and Knitting stall, food tasting – with a line of bottles containing a red drink – E. Crosby drapery stall and demonstrations at Sharp’s lino stall and at a crockery stall.  The film closes with people walking around the Market as well as some women pushing prams.

Download context pdf

This film is one of many made by local Bradford businessman and councillor Robert Sharp. The Yorkshire Film Archive holds over 30 films either made by, or on behalf of, Bob Sharp. These are mainly from the 1940s, but some date from the late 1930s through to the late 1950s. The films cover a variety of subjects: not only the Sharp floor covering business, but also reflecting Bob’s interests and hobbies, his work as a councillor as well as family film.  He started working in his father’s floor covering business in 1911 at the age of 15, and when he took over developed it by opening several more shops, including the shop in the old Kirkgate Market that can be seen in this film.  

After the war Sharp’s business grew, and, with the passing of the years of austerity, people were able to become more house proud and Sharps were employing some 50 workers, including fitters and sewers.  Two years earlier than this film, in 1949, Sharp made a film on one of his shops, Sharp's Halifax Shop, held at the YFA. Another film he made however, similar to this one, in 1958 – about the opening of the new Rawson Market in Bradford – appears to have gone missing (see the Telegraph and Argus, 27 June, 1958).  For more information on Robert Sharp and his other films see the Context for Street Cleansing (1946).

Bradford, and the surrounding area, developed on the strength of the textile industry, the ‘Dark Satanic Mills’ of William Blake. With the new found wealth came increased population, including immigrant merchants and workers from many places, especially Ireland, Italy and Germany – including the father of the local composer Frederick (formerly Fritz) Delius, born in Bradford in 1862. And with this came an expansion of the markets, especially in the second half of the nineteenth century when all the major towns and cities of West Yorkshire had large prestigious markets built.

The 700th anniversary commemorates the Royal Charter granted by Henry III to Edmund de Lacy in 1251, ‘that he and his heirs for ever, shall have one market every week, on Thursday, at his manor of Brafford . . . unless this market should be to the injury of the neighbouring markets’. The market moved its site many times over the passing years, until it settled on a site surrounding the old Manor House, which had been abandoned as a residence.       This land was leased off the Lord of the Manor by the Council for 999 years, and on it Kirkgate Market was built by local architects Lockwood and Mawson between 1871 and 1878.  It set an example for similar markets in the area, with an iron cast frame, painted green and gold bronze, and two domes each 60 feet high, enclosing an area 5,520 square yards. The outside was decorated in an Italianate–Second Empire manner, with large figures of Pomona and Flora over the arched entrance. Francis Frith has a fine photograph of it in 1897 (see References).
The film shows the Market as an extremely popular place for shopping and for people to meet. In his book English Journey, written in 1933, one of Bradford’s most famous sons, J. B. Priestley, describes the market as he used to visit it when he was young: ‘Between the music at one extreme and the boiled cod at the other, there are rows and rows of drapery, boot and shoe, confectionary, grocery stalls’. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how it is viewed, the film comes just before major changes were to take place in Bradford that would dramatically change the layout of the city centre, and some would say its character as well. As a councillor Sharp would have been involved in these developments in the 1950s. 
After the war Stanley Wardley, who was previously at Wakefield, become Bradford Corporation’s City Engineer and Surveyor. He drew up a 20 year plan for the city which was published in 1953. This included an inner ring road and the replacement of much of the city centre with more open spaces. So it was that many of the old fine Victorian buildings were demolished, including Forster Square, the Doric, the Swan Arcade and the Court House, described by Pevsner as ‘The best Grecian building in Bradford’.  The market itself was demolished in 1973.  The Context for Billy Liar on Location (1962) also has some discussion of these developments. 
One of those involved in these building developments was the notorious local architect John Poulson – born in Knottingley – who was convicted of fraud relating to building contracts at Leeds Crown Court in 1974 – the largest case of public corruption brought in Britain the twentieth century. The trial lasted 52 days at an estimated cost of £1.25 million.   It also resulted in the resignation of Reginald Maudling as Home Secretary, who had been chairman of two of Poulson's companies. Poulson was found guilty of bribing councillors, and was able to use his influence in the 1960s to build public hospitals and new town centres, including the Arndale Centre, in Leeds, and, infamously, Leeds International Baths which was built inches short of qualifying as an Olympic swimming pool. His empire became one of the largest concerns of its kind in Europe. The 1996 TV drama Our Friends in the North has a character based on Poulson; and similarly the character of John Dawson played by Sean Bean in the Channel 4 Red Riding Trilogy – based on the West Yorkshire-based novels of David Peace – also has more than a passing resemblance.
But not all of the redevelopment was motivated by greed. Many architects during the 1950s and 1960s had a progressive outlook, looking to develop a brighter more modern environment. Part of this was a dislike of Victorian design.  Perhaps it is easier in hindsight to see that these experiments often did not work out as hoped. Unfortunately, along with the buildings, many of the trades seen in the film seem to have disappeared also: Millie’s fruit and vegetable stall, Greenhalgh Rug and Knitting stall, Crosby drapery. But Hilton’s ice cream business is still going strong on Garnett Street.
Derek Linstrum, West Yorkshire: Architects and Architecture, Lund Humphries, London, 1978.
Robert E. Preedy, Francis Frith: West Yorkshire Photographic Memories, Frith Book Company, Salisbury, 2000.
Gary Firth, Bygone Bradford: The Lost World of J. B. Priestley, Dalesman Books, 1986.
Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire The West Riding, 2dn. Edition, Penguin, London, 1967.
Gavin Stamp, Britain’s Lost Cities, Aurum Press, London, 2007.
Further information
J. B. Priestley, English Journey: As Seen By One Man, Mandarin, new edition 1994 (1933).



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <b> <i> <div> <img> <p> <br> <span>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Insert Google Map macro.

More information about formatting options

please leave this field blank if you can see it