THE Longlands area of Bradford city centre has a significant place in the country’s housing legacy.

Tucked away off Westgate, Longlands is often referred to as ‘Chain Street’ and includes distinctive tenement blocks, as well as more recently built homes.

It was one of several ‘lost neighbourhoods’ of Victorian Bradford, comprised of cramped back-to-back terraced houses. Sanitation was poor and the population was high, along with infant mortality rates and disease.

Concerns about the living conditions led Frederick Jowett, the first Independent Labour Party councillor elected to Bradford Corporation, to launch a public inquiry. He called for the houses to be declared ‘insanitary’ so they could be demolished. By 1909 the area was rebuilt, with five new tenement blocks, three of which are still there. Longlands had a strong Irish heritage, reflected in the Harp of Erin pub and St Patrick’s Church.

Longlands had a direct impact on housing policy in the early 20th century, leading to other social housing developments. in the city and beyond. The Longlands restoration was a model for further slum clearances in Bradford.

Read Jonathan Crewdson's feature on Longlands here:

Now the Neighbourhood Project is carrying out research into the post-war history of Longlands. A team of volunteers is being recruited to interview formers residents of the flats. People who lived in the historic neighbourhood are also invited to share their memories at sessions taking place next month.

Leading the project is Dr Jonathan Crewdson, who has researched the early history of Longlands. He said: “One by one, these old neighbourhoods have either gone or been radically changed and most of their names are no longer commonly used. Such is the issue with Longlands, often mistakenly called ‘Chain Street’ or ‘Upper Goitside’. Its name should be preserved for its significance in the social progress of Bradford in the 20th Century.

“We are looking to talk to people who have lived, worked, volunteered, owned property or a business, or had some other connection with the area. We’re especially interested in people who lived in or close by Longlands after the Second World War as we wish to capture people’s memories of this period - what it was like to live there and any interesting facts or stories. These will go into a free publication on the history of Longlands which we aim to have finished before the end of the year.

“We really want to find what Longlands was like, especially to live there, and how it changed. The period after the Second World War is the least well documented, so the aim is to collect people’s memories and stories and to preserve them for posterity.”

Adds Jonathan: “We are running two ‘memory bank’ events at the nearby Millside Centre on Grattan Road. on Wednesday, June 29 from 10.30am-12.30pm and the 2pm-4pm. These will be informal discussions to give people an opportunity to reminisce about Longlands and share their stories. People’s contributions will be anonymous unless they give us permission to name them. We will provide light refreshments and repay travel expenses for attending.”

* To find out more or book for one of the sessions contact Jonathan Crewdson by calling 07422 715910 or emailing

Emma Clayton