PEOPLE, places and events in Bradford’s past - from the UK’s last hangman to the Bradfordian who broke the bank at Monte Carlo - are the focus of a new book revealing a local story for every day of the year.

Every Day Bradford by Martin Greenwood profiles figures such as industrial pioneers Sir Titus Salt and John Hustler, education reformer Margaret McMillan and trade unionist Julia Varley to David Hockney, Dynamo, Zayn Malik and Peter Sutcliffe. It looks at 1800s squalor, improvements in healthcare, the impact of the two worlds wars, the development of professional sport, and stories behind buildings such as the Wool Exchange, City Hall and the old Kirkgate Market. It also looks at the arrival of working people from around the world, and their descendants, including industrialist and philanthropist Sir Jacob Behrens, composer Frederick Delius, and Naz Shah MP.

Manningham-born Martin started researching Bradford when writing a biography of his grandfather Percy Monkman, a First World War entertainer. Not wanting to attempt a “conventional history” of Bradford, he was inspired by TV historian Dan Snow’s book revealing a story for each day of the year about events in world history. “I thought: why not such a book about Bradford? It would enable me to bring into one volume the many events, people and places,” said Martin. “Could I find a memorable story about each day in the year? There was only one way to find out.”

In 2018 he started his research, visiting Bradford’s Local Studies Library, Undercliffe Cemetery and local history groups. “The format of a story for each of 365 days turned out to be flexible. It allows for different stages in a historic theme, such as Chartism and the demand for universal suffrage, different facets of great lives, like JB Priestley’s writing, WW2 radio talks and CND campaigning, and stories with national interest, such as the Yorkshire Ripper and Cottingley fairies,” said Martin, who completed the book in March 2020. “I kept an eye on what was happening, as history continued to be written. Two Bradfordians being part of England’s first-ever Cricket World Cup victory in July 2019 was one such event. Later, as the coronavirus pandemic hit, Captain Tom popped up on TV and turned out to be from Keighley.

“I was amazed by the stories I’d never heard of before - the ‘Humbug Billy’ poisonings, the workhouse boy from Idle who become one of the world’s most prominent academic philologists, the eccentric who attempted a solo Everest climb, the gaiety girl who became a countess and the young mother of triplets who stumbled into a life of polar exploration. And many more.”