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Technically, I have been to Bradford once before, but I was not a tourist that time. This time, I allowed a little extra time for seeing some of the sights and making use of the bus network.

It's British Wool Week, and I misunderstood the Industrial Museum's website to promise me daily alpacas. There were none. Instead, I saw the enormous carding, spinning, and weaving machines upstairs, the long, shiny collection of somewhat eccentric cars downstairs, printworks, trams, engines, and a potted history of Bradford. The mill supervisor's house was my disorienting introduction to the site, since I had not yet then found the main entrance. Fascinating back-to-back houses preserved. Biggest revelation: a spare Victorian maid's room looks pleasantly comfortable to modern eyes.

The apse of the cathedral is under renovation, so no William Morris window for me. Still, not a bad overgrown parish church. The city is a bit hit-and-miss in its way: lots of good things, lots of long-abandoned, often burnt-out churches and mills, ripe for renovation when the money and/or population justifies it; and yet the whole place looks so solid, build as it is out of grey stone, layered into the hills of Bradford Dale.

Dinner was at Prashad. Brief version: very good overall, ordered too much because it's hard to predict portions at new places, beautiful masala dosa. The best two foods for me were the kalva, banana and fenugreek bhajis with coriander sauce; and one of the dips brought before the pappadoms, made from fermented thick-skinned mangoes. Dahi puri were refreshing, but less exciting; the puri didn't seem quite right, even if they may have been exactly as intended. Fantastic, friendly service.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked Prashads, they are wonderful people. Just wish they hadn't had to close the deli in order to expand. I loved being able to pop in on the way back from Ikea and pick up a bunch of snacks.
Sep. 10th, 2011 08:18 am (UTC)
Bradford suffers from being next to Leeds, and within a short journey of towns like Ilkley, Skipton and Saltaire. Leeds has better shopping, better architecture, better cinemas and better tourist attractions within a short distance, and it did even when I went to college there in the late 60s... The others have better architecture, better scenery and even better shopping than Bradford.

Sep. 10th, 2011 08:55 am (UTC)
I'd agree with that diagnosis with the small quibble that I think Saltaire is part of the city proper.

I was up in Manchester for the first time in years a couple of months ago. It was a remarkable and depressing contrast to Bradford. The two cities have very similar histories but by virtue of being the centre of the region (and having a smarter council) Manchester is just light years beyond Bradford.
Sep. 10th, 2011 09:09 am (UTC)
One of my best friends lives in Keighley (and we all commuted in by car from her place at the last Bradford convention) so we know the area fairly well. Even when she was still working in Bradford, we rarely went there...

I thought Saltaire was just outside Bradford, but as I don't vote there I'm happy to be corrected. A pity if it's not kept its identity.
Sep. 10th, 2011 08:50 am (UTC)
ripe for renovation when the money and/or population justifies it

It'll never happen now. There was a window in the late Nineties/early Noughties where it looked like it might turn itself around but it simply couldn't compete with Leeds and wasn't able to establish its own identity.
Sep. 10th, 2011 09:10 am (UTC)
There was an incredible city plan which would have meant creating a huge lake practically in the centre of Bradford, but they never found the dosh.
Sep. 10th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
Yes, the Will Alsop masterplan. I believe he did one for Barnsley ("the Tuscany of the North") as well but everyone feel out of love with him.

I thought they were still making some sort of big water feature near the millennium square (there are loads of roadworks there whilst they are doing something) but can't see anything online. Here's a good summary of current progress to regenerate the city centre.
Sep. 10th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

That's interesting...
Sep. 11th, 2011 09:49 am (UTC)
Yes, there's a big construction site right by city hall which the map swears is for a lake-to-be. I was particularly aware of it since I regularly had to work my way around the site while going around Bradford.
Sep. 10th, 2011 12:22 pm (UTC)
Oh my God I miss Prashad so much. I almost wept reading about your visit there! (The zucchini-chana dahl is THE BEST, next time you get a chance to go back there!)

I love Abergavenny, but there is no Prashad (or any equivalent) here. Sigh.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )