Bradford In Literature
Bradford has been alluded to in several novels. Most famously, perhaps, it was represented by "Leddersford" in ' Room at the Top' by John Braine who was born in the city. The name "Leddersford" was a bit of a nod to the fictional Yorkshire mill town of " Bruddersford" in ' The Good Companions' (1929) by J.B. Priestley, another son of Bradford. Here are two extracts about the same location in the city of Bradford ("Leddersford") - one from 'Room at the Top' as Joe Lampton dreams of being rich, the other from '1954: A Crime Novel' as Jennifer Shaw enjoys being rich.
"Passing the warehouses with their heavy, oily but curiously non-industrial smell of raw wool and the cramped littered offices with their mahogany furniture and high stools and the Gothic Wool Exchange straight out of Doré I felt as the owners of the big cars outside, the gaffers, masters, overlords, must feel: the city was mine, a loving mother, its darkness and dirtiness was the foundation of my big house in Ilkley or Harrogate or Burley, my holiday at Biarritz or Monte Carlo, my suit from my own personal roll of cloth." Lampton then dreams of a Triumph Roadster and buying his girl " a big flask of Coty" and a mink cape.
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© Nick Garnett 2010
This is Jennifer Shaw arriving at Bradford's Wool Exchange in her ivory-coloured Jaguar with its white-walled tyres. "Plenty of gaps were visible outside the imposing Italianate Gothic pile housing the Wool Exchange, the place where material was still traded and prices set and which still exerted an influence, though waning, on the wool market. Slipping the three-speed automatic gearbox - specially ordered - into reverse, she expertly backed the sixteen-foot long car into a slot........
The Exchange, a fantastical confection with a one hundred foot, pinnacled clock tower was constructed out of local sandstone, its honey hue long metamorphosed into pitch black under the remorseless attack of pollution. Ten thousand tons of carbon and ash and sixty thousand gallons of tar tumbled down on the city every year, her husband had once told her. The figures were so monstrous they had rooted in her memory. Into this lung-busting filth, Jennifer Shaw strode quickly, snuggling into her Jaeger camelhair and nap cloth coat with slanting front and huge petal collar."
The Wool Exchange, Bradford in 1935.
'Room at the Top' was first published in 1957 but was set in the late 1940s. It has the feel of a different era from that of '1954: A Crime Novel'.
Photograph: Walter Scott, from the book 'Textile Voices'
published by the Bradford Heritage Recording Unit.