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Saturday, January 22, 2022

I am from Wales, live in Wakefield, but want to move to Bradford – Why in my view Bradford is NOT the worse place to live

Bradford gets a bad rap, but here is why it is my favourite place in Yorkshire.

March will mark my third year living in Yorkshire. Moving from South Wales to Manchester for my undergraduate degree, and then into my partner’s flat in Wakefield at the beginning of the pandemic way back in early 2020.

My first experience in Bradford was 14 June 2021, but in the six months I’ve worked here, I have fallen in love with the city.

Every year, the ILiveHere ‘Worst places to live’ list comes out, and every year, I cringe hard at it.

I’ve worked in Bradford for the past six months.

Cities in Yorkshire place on the list every year, but admittedly, I was a bit offended when Bradford came in at number 10.

Bradford has an undeserved bad reputation, as seen in this list. The list is a feeble attempt of inciting classism, and Bradford, is always on the receiving end of it.

To counter this here are my eight reasons (I have more but my word count doesn’t allow me to list more) why Bradford is not only my favourite place in Yorkshire but one of my favourite places in England.

  1. The food

The mix of food you get in Bradford is unlike anywhere else in the country. In the small Welsh valley where I’m from, there is maybe a dozen takeaways and even fewer sit-down restaurants. Wakefield is a bit better, but nothing like in Bradford.

You can’t get a better selection of food than in Bradford.

Outside the office, there is a Thai restaurant that smells divine every time I walk past and a steakhouse that would give a Michelin Star restaurant a run for its money.

On Leeds Road, there is Mahmood’s, Pakeezah Superstore, which does my favourite vegetable samosa chaat, and Oodle Noodles, a Chinese restaurant and takeaway that I frequent too often, for a type 1 diabetic.

I haven’t visited it yet, but one of the restaurants I am eager to visit is Prashad with its exclusively vegetarian menu. The restaurant’s owner, Mayur Patel, co-founded Bundobust, a chain of vegetarian Indian eateries with a location in Manchester, which I visit every time I’m back in my old university stomping ground.

  1. Bradford Literature Festival

Bradford Literature Festival (BLF) is a beacon for arts and culture. Performances are held year-round but the ten-day festival is the shining star.

A conversation at Bradford Literature festival in 2019. Image: Bradford Literature Festival.

Founded in 2014, BLF is the most diverse literature festival in the country and a key event in the UK cultural calendar.

This year, the festival was held both in-person and virtually, meaning that people had the opportunity to go in person or watch from the comfort of their own home, or while commuting on the train.

The dates are set for this year’s festival, with it planned to run between 24 June and 3 July, and I can’t wait to see who they have lined up for this year.

  1. Kala Sangam

At the heart of Bradford, the Kala Sangam Art Centre is one of the best things about Bradford. It boasts that it is an “intercultural arts hub which reflects the diversity of contemporary Britain” and it is just that.

The award-winning Full English play was debuted at Kala Sangam. Image: Bent Architect.

In Wales, I would have to travel miles to either Swansea or Cardiff to watch a show and Wakefield, despite putting millions into delivering arts and culture programmes and vying for City of Culture 2025 before not making the shortlist, does not have an equivalent.

In Forster Square, Kala Sangam hosted Natalie Davies’s award-winning Full English play last June, and Jameela Khan’s A Bird in the Window interactive children’s performance, in the autumn.

The full spring programme has not been announced yet, but I am eagerly waiting for what 2022 has in store for the venue.

  1. The National Science and Media Museum

The Science and Media Museum. Image: Chemical Engineer.

Where do I begin with the National Science and Media Museum?  This museum is like no other, with its seven floors dedicated to photography, television, animation, video gaming, the internet, and light and colour.

The museum even has three cinema screens, including the first Imax screen opened in Europe.

The museum is free and is exciting and fresh, unlike the Hepworth Museum and art gallery in Wakefield, which is quite possibly the most monotonous creative space I have ever visited.

  1. Bradford City football club

The women from the Inspirational Women Foundation and I got to watch a home match at Bantams stadium.

Okay, I admit, I have only been to one game, thanks to Humayun Islam at BEAP Community Partnership and my editor and boss, Fatima Patel, at the Inspirational Women Foundation, but I enjoyed myself more than I ever thought I would.

If Wakefield had a professional football team, I would probably watch more games.

Living all over the shop, I still haven’t decided who I want to support, in Wales, our sport is rugby, and it is a family tradition to support the Ospreys (Swansea), but with Leeds United tickets costing around £30 to £40, I think I’m sticking with Bantams.

  1. The parks

Bradford has beautiful walking areas and parks. One of my favourites, just steps away from Bradford Interchange, is Bradford City Park. It is not a typical park, where you can kick a footie around on the grass, but it does offer the peace and tranquillity of one.

Bradford Moor Park.

When it is not bitterly cold or pouring down with rain, it is lovely to sit outside with a cup of tea and watch the fountains.

Bradford also has Bradford Moor, which has been lovingly restored by volunteers from Friends of Bradford Moor Park, and Lister Park in Manningham. The inner city also has Bowling Park and Horton Park that I have yet been to but looking for an excuse to go.

  1. The people

The people in Bradford are so kind and welcoming.

I plan on moving to Bradford. Image: Jon Farman.

I have never felt more welcome in a city, and a community, than I have in Bradford.

The people have welcomed me with open arms, and I am indebted to the community.

I am a visitor to the city, but I feel more at home here than I do in Wakefield.

When the timing is right, I plan on moving to the district so that I can be more involved and build more relationships.

  1. The architecture

To put it bluntly, the architecture in Wales and Wakefield are boring compared to Bradford. Given, I spent the first eighteen years of my life in Wales, I might take the rolling hills and dilapidated buildings for granted there, however, the buildings in Bradford are just beautiful to look at.

Bradford Central Mosque.

Situated in the old Wool Exchange is Waterstones, where you can grab a coffee and read a new book in one of Bradford’s premier Victorian Gothic buildings. On social media, readers from all over the world are envious of this book shop.

City Hall, Bradford Central Mosque, and Little Germany are all delights to look at.

The tall and tan-coloured stone found in the centre of town was quarried in abundance from Bradford Stone Quarries, so much so, that most of the city centre was built from it.

Jamiyat Tabligh-ul-Islam Mosque was built well over 120 years later than buildings like City Hall, for example, but it uses local slate and distinctive tan-stone to match the surrounding mills and terraces, which adds to its greatness.

If you don’t believe me, then you’re clearly looking through a bad lens. 😉

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