(First published in 1985 in volume 1, pp. 62-66, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)
In the last issue of the Bradford Antiquary (Part 47, 1982) I reported that news on the financial front was not very encouraging. This time, by comparison, the position is distinctly rosy, and members of the Council have not been required to stand by with ready cash to see the publication through.
This does not mean that the editor has been given a free hand. On the contrary, clear signals were received from many quarters to the effect that the Bradford Antiquary must, in current terminology, 'change its image'. Hitherto the journal has been well received by universities, colleges, libraries and learned societies generally, both here and overseas, but oddly enough the Antiquary has little local appeal. The Society's journal is not entirely without honour, but Bradford people do not buy it. There are rumours that even loyal members read the Antiquary without bothering to cut the pages. Of course, when publication is so irregular - only three numbers since 1971 - it is difficult to make sound, valid judgments. What seems clear, however, is that if the Society's conservative and uncommercial approach were to continue, the Bradford Antiquary would be doomed. It could survive but only as an expensive relic.
High printing costs, but not those alone, have forced a change of policy which should in the end do good. If the Antiquary is to continue it must be largely self-financing. Each issue must not only be saleable, but sold out, and if it really is the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society it should in large measure reflect the members' needs and wishes. Publication of the Antiquary, if it is to be an effective part of the Society's activities, must take place annually, as it did at first, until 1896. Spasmodic issues 'as and when possible' are no solution.
Sponsorship is rife today, but even in 1927 the editor appealed for some wealthy citizen to come forward 'with assistance which would ensure yearly publication'. We ought not to turn what should be a privilege and a pleasure into an irksome duty. Surely to maintain a tradition of this nature is worth an effort, and if the kind of book we provide is broadly acceptable we should really have no difficulty in paying our way. The Bradford Antiquary ought not to be a lame duck, or worse still an albatross round our necks.
Products which have been on the market for even a short time all seem to need something 'new' to maintain their appeal. After a hundred years we have decided to make an entirely fresh start, with 'Third Series - Number 1'. We are dropping the often confusing idea of parts and volumes in favour of what we hope will be a regular annual publication. This leaves 'New Series Volume 10' incomplete, but to produce another three parts in the old format was well-nigh impossible.
Back numbers of the Bradford Antiquary contain essays which have become landmarks in local history. There are obviously too many to mention, but in this issue Lilian Robinson has drawn attention to Wilfrid Robertshaw's studies of Tong and Mrs Tempest's accounts of her own family history. Of course, many pieces were lighter in texture and of more general appeal. Original research must still be our concern. but this now takes so many forms. and has become in a real sense so popular, that we should have no difficulty in presenting topics to suit many tastes. Research in depth, however, carries its dangers. because preoccupation with a single theme leads us to target that a detailed analysis of, dare we say, Titus Salt's laundry lists. does not make compulsive reading. But we must not throw out the baby with the bath water. and in attempting to provide variety end up with a kind of 'Tit-bits'. One of our aims is to show local history in action, with a view to encouraging readers to become contributors.
The printing and layout of the new issue is less distinctive than the old style, but standardisation helps to keep costs down, and if reprints are required they can be had at a cheaper rate.
We are looking back on a year of many celebrations, among them the hundred-and-fiftieth birthday of William Morris. and, nearer home, of the Bradford Observer, which was first published on 6 February 1834. The latter anniversary was marked by a display in the Local Studies Department of the Central Library. Homage has also been paid to two of Bradford's most famous sons: to Frederick Delius, who died fifty years ago, and J.B. Priestley, who died on 14 August 1984. Unfortunately the main Delius events had to be deferred because the restoration of St. George's Hall was not complete. The new date is 20 to 26 May 1985.
On 31 March 1984 a day-school on 'William Morris and Stained Glass' was held at Cartwright Hall, and was so well supported that it had to he repeated a week later. What, may be asked, had industrial Bradford to do with the Pre-Raphaelites? It may come as a surprise to learn that this district was a pioneer in recognizing the merit of the Morris techniques and an early supporter of the firm in Red Lion Square. Those who attended the dayschool heard lectures by Paul Lawson and Ken Powell on the important examples of Morris's early work from Harden Grange, now in the Cartwright Hall collection, and on other Morris windows in the neighbourhood. There was a display of glass from the local collection and the day ended with a visit to Bradford Cathedral to see the east window, which is said to be only the third large commission executed by Morris and his partners. Delegates came from near and far. One member of the William Morris Society, a teacher from New Mexico, came from London specially for the occasion.
To commemorate this very special anniversary the Friends of Bradford Art Gallery and Museums have paid for the restoration of the Crucifixion, a window from St. James's Church, Brighouse, which is intended to form the centre-piece of a permanent display of Morris glass at Cartwright Hall. It is to be hoped that a similar enterprise will result in the restoration of the Cathedral's other Morris window, which has not seen the light of day for twenty years. As our tribute to William Morris we are publishing an article by Paul Lawson on the Harden Grange windows and a description of the Morris glass in Bradford Cathedral by Mary Lister.
What is the recipe for a successful society? Why do some organizations remain actively in business while others stagnate or close down? It was these thoughts which prompted me to invite Evelyn Hanslip to write about the East Bowling History Workshop, and I am sure that readers will enjoy her fresh and spontaneous account of proceedings which have enabled this group not only to survive but to prosper. Of course, our own society, after over a hundred years, is a modest example of what can be done with wise leadership and loyal support from members.
Individuals, too, embark upon projects in earnest, but for one reason or another fail to see them through. This is inevitable, but there are scores of people like' Hank Green (see p.67), who go to extraordinary lengths to trace their ancestry, and many others who are following their own lines of investigation into some aspect of local history. We would like to hear from anyone or any group about their projects, with a view to publishing accounts of them, and, of course, articles based on original research are always welcome.
This, to a certain extent, is an experimental number of the Bradford Antiquary. We hope to bring out another issue at the end of 1985 for 1986, but in the meantime we should be glad to receive comments about this number and suggestions for the next. We specially value the support of overseas subscribers and we would like to hear from them, too.
Finally I wish to thank all the contributors for their articles and for their help at the proof stage. Without them there would be no publication at all.
Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford's Highgate, opened in 1854, was owned by a private company which went into liquidation in 1976. The Bradford Metropolitan Council decided it could not afford to take responsibility for the maintenance of the cemetery so in 1980 it was sold to Mr Arthur Edwick, a builder, for a peppercorn fee. Since then great concern has been caused by the removal of kerbstones. Even after many protests and objections the August 1984 Newsletter published by the Friends of Undercliffe Cemetery drew attention to
the dismantling of top courses of stone from the wall on Undercliffe Lane and Pollard Lane. This was followed by the damaging of several graves … and removal of large amounts of kerbs tones from that area.
It was then revealed by the Council's Legal Department that the title of the land had not been granted to Mr Edwick and that registration had been refused by the Land Registry, under a clause which forbids the sale of consecrated land formerly used for burial. The news that more kerbstones had been removed, backed by representations from the Friends, led the Council's Management Committee to apply to the Department of the Environment for compulsory purchase of the cemetery. In anticipation of the purchase a Trust is being set up to manage and restore the cemetery.
Thus, after a three-year struggle, the Friends of Undercliffe Cemetery are near to success, but this is only the end of the beginning. An immense amount of work lies ahead and large sums will be needed to make good the damage caused by years of vandalism and neglect.
Those who wish to know more about the cemetery should write to: Mrs C.E. Chapple, Secretary of the Friends, at 109 Oxford Road, Gomersal, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire.
The September News Sheet, 1984, brought the glad tidings that restoration was about to start on the north wing of the hall, work made possible by a grant of £45,000 from Bradford Council's Community Programme. English Heritage has already made a grant of £106,000 on condition that it is matched by a similar contribution from funds raised by the Society. West Yorkshire County Council and Bradford Metropolitan District Council have also nearly completed the conveyance which will pass the ownership of the building to the Society.
Restoration of the north wing will be finished before work begins on a new ring road, which passes close to Paper Hall. The initial plans for thiis road seemed to pose a threat to all the Society's schemes, but assurances have been given that when the new outer wall has been erected it will not be disturbed.
The Committee have raised money by various means year by year, including £1018 from an Auction Sale held recently, but much more is needed. Donations and offers of help of any kind may be sent to the Hon. Treasurer, Mr P. Sutcliffe, 16 Ryelands Grove, Bingley Road, Bradford, BD9 6HJ.
For those who are not familiar with the story, Paper Hall, a name which still goes unexplained, is the oldest domestic building in the central area of the city, the date on the door lintel being 1643. Paper Hall's special significance is that in 1794 James Garnett installed hand spinning machines there, an event which is generally regarded as the start of the Industrial Revolution in Bradford. For many years the building has been in a derelict state, but since 1972 a band of devoted volunteers led by Professor R.J. Ord-Smith have been trying to save and restore it. The difficulties have been enormous, especially the complicated negotiations with all manner of official bodies and their various departments, but the way to restoration at last seems clear. One great benefit is that the Society's architect will from now on have the close co-operation and support of the structural engineers attached to English Heritage.
The Friends, who paid for the restoration of the Morris window from St. James's Church, Brighouse, have recently helped the Art Gallery and Museums to acquire a coat with a Lowry panel, knitted by Denise Rusk, which is on display at Bolling Hall. They have also contributed to the purchase of a fine collection of specimen gem stones. Besides giving financial help the Friends make themselves responsible for catering arrangements at Official openings and previews. In addition the Friends organize a number of Social occasions each year, including popular Christmas Festivities at Bolling Hall.
More Friends are always welcome and details of membership can be obtained from: Mrs Reynell, 12 Park View Road, Bradford BD9 4PA. Tel. 46585
The editor wishes to thank the following authorities for permission to reproduce photographs: The William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow - St. Cyprian Cartoon (p.39); Bradford Art Galleries and Museums - Walls of Jericho (p.44) and Tristram and Isoude Panels (cover and pp.40-41); The Provost of Bradford, Very Rev. Brandon D. Jackson - Morris Windows in Bradford Cathedral (p.39 and p.42).
© 1985, The Bradford Antiquary