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Remembering city's own speakers' corner
We’ve had a letter from Neville Cox, of Bradford, who wants to know if anyone remembers Bradford’s answer to Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park.
Declaims Mr Cox: “I don’t know when it began but it was in the 1940s when I joined. It was held every Sunday evening on a patch of spare land in Broadway where the Bhs store was eventually built.
“A select group of people assembled, some to speak, some to listen, some to question and some to argue or heckle.
“Those well-prepared like the Catholic men’s group had a proper wooden lectern mounted on wheels which was trundled into position. There were one or two soapboxes and if my memory is accurate an occasional cart.
“The Salvation Army was represented, as were the atheists by the well-known Joe Corina who was regular T&A contributor.
“Political parties came and went. But anyone with any sort of axe to grind or grievance to air simply stood back and began to speak or preferably shout and the bystanders would slowly move over and provide an audience.
“I first went to speak when I was a candidate for the Council, and then as a founder member of the Bradford CND group. David Hockney’s father was a regular speaker on peace matters.
“It was frightening getting started but once you had a small audience it became enjoyable. The end came when work began to develop the Broadway shopping area.
“It was suggested that speakers’ corner should move to the steps in front of the magistrates court, but it just never caught on.
“I happen to know that the Council asked the courts committee to allow an electrical connection to run out from the court to the front area so that a loudspeaker could by plugged in for rallies, but it refused.
“One Saturday after our CND group had held a march through the city, carrying posters designed by David Hockney (how I wish I had kept one) we went on to Broadway to hold a rally.
“I was approached by a police sergeant who said we had not received police permission for the rally and should stop. But I stood my ground and said that as we had just fought a war to protect our right to free speech he couldn’t stop me. Thankfully he backed down.”
Anyone got any more (perhaps less tense) memories of the place?