A visit to Bradford a few days ago, with a friend who lived and worked there for many years, showed how things have changed for better and worse, for richer and poorer, since it lost the wealth and confidence that wool once gave it.
The city centre has changed very much for the better to become a place where children can play among fountains that spring up everywhere, while grown-ups like us sit in the sun – which shone relentlessly while we were there! The part of the city called Little Germany, after the German manufacturers who set up business there in Bradford’s heydays as the centre of the international wool trade, has been well preserved in spite of the decline in that trade which made the city a shadow of its former self in the last century.
On its edge the Little Theatre still stands where, in the 1960s, I had my first experience of acting and watched not just plays, from Shakespeare and Shaw to Pinter and O’Neill, but films too – Godard, Bergman, Visconti and the rest. It still stands and plays are still put on there, but years of neglect have taken their toll.
Bradford’s year as UK Capital of Culture in 2025 offers a chance of regeneration for a city that deserves a second chance – and a theatre that needs a lick of paint!