Postcards from Bradford

Caelum, non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt

Dalrymple writes that not since he lived and worked in South Africa

have I seen a city as racially segregated as Bradford.

There is no law to separate the races,

but stone walls do not a ghetto make.

An outpost of Islam

It is possible

in one part of Bradford to conclude that it is a typical northern British city, dominated almost completely by a white working class, and in another (reached by driving along a single major road that bisects the city) that it is an outpost of Islam, whose people have changed their hemisphere of residence, but not their culture or way of life.

Females excluded from this gathering

Rotten grandeur

Dalrymple explains that the city

reached an acme of prosperity in the second half of the 19th century, before its success evaporated, leaving behind a legacy of municipal pride and magnificence, of splendid public buildings in the Gothic and renaissance-revival styles. (It was on the head of a Bradford millionaire that Eliot sarcastically stuck a silk hat in The Waste Land.)

Even many of the terraced working-class homes

are elegantly and expensively faced in stone, so that large areas of the city resemble nothing so much as Bath with textile mills added.

Hanover Square

One part of Bradford, Hanover Square,

is a small masterpiece of Victorian town architecture: it was long the residence of Margaret McMillan, who some 90 years ago founded the British nursery-school movement and agitated for improvements in working-class education.

The streets of Bradford: strictly men only

Women prohibited from this march

Nowadays, Dalrymple notes,

there is not a white face to be seen in the square, nor that of any woman. It is strictly men only on the street, dressed as for the North-West Frontier (apart, incongruously, from their sneakers).

A group of them

perpetually mills around outside the house that functions as a madrassah.

‘Buckshot’ Forster, who represented Bradford in the House of Commons between 1861 and 1886, was among other things Gladstone’s chief secretary for Ireland

The Victoria Monument is today spoiled by the hideous modern building in the background

The W.E. Forster statue is today spoiled by a monstrosity of a shopping centre

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