(First published in 1986 in volume 2, pp. 72-74,79, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)
It was on Saturday morning, 8 December 1984, that 'Third Series No.1 -1985' was successfully launched by Canon Kenneth Cook in the Cathedral Parish Room. Those of us not 'in the know' failed to understand why the proceedings opened in semi-darkness, but the surprise was complete when the curtains were drawn back to reveal St. Cyprian and his companions in the second Morris window, which had not seen the light of day for twenty years or more. This was a most effective way of illustrating Miss Lister's description of the old south chancel window in the Bradford Antiquary. After such a good send off the first issue of the new series, in spite of its imperfections, sold remarkably well, and there are only thirty or forty copies left. In addition the new number has gained us many friends and several additional members.
Early in October 1985 I met Dr Muriel Whitaker of the University of Alberta when she came to Cartwright Hall to see the Tristram and Isoude panels. Dr Whitaker, who is writing a book on the artistic interpretation of Arthurian legend, heard about Mr Lawson's article in the Antiquary through the good offices of the William Morris Society. As she had already made plans to come to this country to gather material for her book she arranged to visit Bradford, and Mr Lawson very kindly offered to get the stained glass out of store so that she might examine it. When I saw Dr Whitaker she was busily taking notes, but had so far only dealt with four of the thirteen panels. We wish her every success with her research.
For two years Mary Lister and I had been preparing the ground for a history of Bradford Parish Church and Cathedral. When discussing the bishops of Bradford we discovered that in 1986 it would be fifty years since the abdication crisis sparked off by Bishop Blunt in his address to the Diocesan Conference on 1 December 1936. Although we do not want to get into the habit of celebrating any and every anniversary we thought that this would be a good opportunity to set down the facts surrounding the speech, so that readers might form a balanced view of the bishop's motives. This 'human interest' story is not the kind we associate with the Antiquary, but the rise and fall of monarchs is the very stuff of history. When the dethronement was laid at Bradford's door local history became world news.
The manuscript which Miss Lister had already written covered the whole of Dr Blunt's time in Bradford, but I have extracted the relevant portions and made one or two small additions. I hope that Miss Lister would have approved of the final result. She was a great help during the printing of 'Third Series No.1' and I miss her friendly co-operation. She was most keen that the Bradford Antiquary should continue to be published and the present issue would no doubt have given her much satisfaction.
Equality of the sexes is a very late development, even in civilized countries like ours. Bradford has always been dominated by its men, and apart from Margaret McMillan, and perhaps Miriam Lord, her disciple, and Margaret Law, it is hard to think of any women who have made names for themselves. The Bradford Historical & Antiquarian Society was formed in 1878 by men for men, and the first women members were not enrolled until the turn of the century. Now there are far more women than men, and the Bradford Antiquary ought somehow to take note of this fact. We would, of course, welcome more articles by women (although they would probably be about men), and we are pleased to publish Catherine Thackray's researches into the history of Brunswick Place. Mrs Thackray, who actually mentions the contents of a lady's dressing room and 'a piano chiffonier and ornaments on top', is campaigning for a woman's view of history. Robert Perks, through his work at Bradford Heritage Unit, is finding that 'ordinary' people, and especially women, are providing lively and often amusing reminiscences. So in his article a girl tells how she spent her first day at the mill and we hear a midwife's tale - slices of life which would not normally find their way into history books.
Soot, in industrial Bradford, fell on male and female alike, and many efforts to control smoke were made in the first half of the 19th century. In 1844 William Scoresby, who was then Vicar of Bradford, eloquently complained that the town's forest of tall chimneys
"pour out their dark produce of imperfect combustion of the inferior coal in unrestrained plenitude. The chemical source of power and prosperity has ample indulgence to smoke its utmost."
'Here', he said, 'is the region of smoke liberty'. The debate continued and at a council meeting in February 1849 an alderman was said to have turned Bradford's smoke into 'a great washing-day problem'. Almost a hundred years later it was no unusual thing for a line full of washing to be so badly marked by smuts from a nearby mill chimney that the entire lot had to be washed again. Successful smoke control is one of the greatest boons ever conferred upon Bradford, and Clement Richardson tells how this was achieved.
All told there is a good spread of interest in 'Third Series No.2' and I wish to thank all the authors for their contributions.
Paper Hall is now being restored and the results are plain for all to see. Local stone, specially quarried, has been cut on the site and the restored facade of the north wing now shows above the surrounding high fence. The roof is being thatched, as they would have said in 1643, with stone slates, and the new mullions look as grand as they must have done when the hall was first built. Of course an immense amount of work has gone into securing the foundations and making way for the usual services.
There is a danger, however, that these signs of progress may lead people to think that finance is no longer a problem. This is far from the case, because sums, large or small, are required in order to release the substantial grant given by English Heritage on a pound for pound basis.
Congratulations must go to Professor R.A.J. Ord-Smith for his perseverance in the face of enormous difficulties throughout the whole of fourteen years, and to the committee which has supported him so loyally. Donations may be sent to Dr Norman Entwistle, 3 Collier Lane, Baildon, West Yorkshire.
Success has also rewarded another of our good causes. Since 1976, when the private company which owned it went into liquidation, the condition of the cemetery has been the source of great public concern. Now, after a four-year struggle involving many disappointments and untold frustration, Christine Chapple and the Friends of Undercliffe Cemetery have won their case. A company has been formed to run the cemetery, in which burials still take place, and a scheme of restoration organized with the help of the Manpower Services Commission has begun. Mrs Chapple, to whom we owe a vast debt for her initiative and perseverance, is to remain in the forefront. She has been appointed assistant secretary of the new company and burial registrar, so things are in good hands.
Mrs Chapple points out that voluntary help is still needed, not least by subscription to the Friends of the Cemetery. Information may be obtained from her at 109 Oxford Road, Gomersal, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire.
In July 1985 Bradford Archives moved from the Central Library to newly converted premises at 15 Canal Road, and on 27 September Miss Batley and I were invited to the official opening. Mr Jack Reynolds was the speaker, and after the department had been declared open the guests toured the building. A welcome and appetizing buffet lunch brought the proceedings to a pleasant close.
The West Yorkshire Archive Joint Committee are to be congratulated on the very wise provision they have made for Bradford Archives because Mr James and his staff were working in very cramped and restricted conditions at the Central Library, but in this spacious building - a former warehouse - documents are stored where they are easily accessible. Researchers benefit, too, because there is no traffic through the room in which they are working and the whole atmosphere is conducive to study. Mr David James described the various collections of documents in the Bradford Antiquary 1985.
© 1986, The Bradford Antiquary