ON BONFIRE night in 1983 Renwick’s Freight on the junction of Thornton Road and Preston Street in Listerhills caught fire.

The warehouse was demolished and in its place a vast warehouse was built for the Bradford-based mail order company Grattan, which later became Freeman Grattan Holdings.

Bradfordian Ray Banyard was on hand to take pictures of the site being cleared in readiness for the new building.

“It is a very large piece of land, across sloping ground, and it was completely cleared,” he says. “The warehouse that was built there is still in use - it’s huge, with lorries constantly coming and going.”

Around 300 staff are now employed at the warehouse.

This photo was taken looking towards Thornton Road and Hollins Road. The former City Combing Company building is in the centre. A water tank can be seen on top of H Hey & Sons, Brick Lane Mills, City Road.

Other photos taken that day by Ray show contractors equipment on the site. “There are caravans in one picture, which would probably be living accommodation for workers, or for security,” says Ray.

One picture shows cranes and other heavy plant equipment levelling the site. “The warehouse that caught fire had completely gone,” says Ray. “It was an absolutely massive piece of land. It was interesting to watch the work in progress.”

Ray also snapped a series of large, hollow concrete rectangles waiting to be put to use on the site. These were laid beneath the ground to accommodate the passage of Bradford Beck that flowed across the site. “They were concrete caverns that would carry the water along,” says Ray.

From a vantage point at Preston Street he took photos of the beck making its journey through the site, before it was covered over as part of the building works.

“I looked over the wall. I remember it clearly - the beck looked in good condition,” he says.

Bradford Beck runs underground in many places as it wends its way towards the city centre, where it continues unseen beneath the busy streets.

The beck looks fairly wide in Ray’s photograph, where it flows through brick-lined walls.

Freeman Grattan used to have its head office on Ingleby Road, near to this site of the current warehouse, but staff have since moved to new headquarters in Vicar Lane, Little Germany.

Offices on Inglebuy Road, built in the 1960s to house the mail order business, have since been demolished.

Reports in the T&A indicate that some of the land could be destined for housing.

Grattan catalogues was founded in 1912 by John Enrico Fatorini, after he fell out with his cousin while working at Empire Stores.

Freemans Grattan Holdings, a major employer in Bradford, had been at the Ingelby Road site since the 1930s, before moving to a Grade ll-listed building in Little Germany.

The 100-year-old company spent at least £1m refurbishing its new head office before moving staff there in the last quarter of 2012.

The building, known as Priestley’s Warehouse, dates back to the textile boom of the 1860s.