HAVE you ever lived or worked in the Longlands area of Bradford, or have some other connection to it?

If so, we would like to hear from you for a project recording memories of this fascinating part of the city.

Next week we are running two 'memory bank' events to bring together people who lived in or close to the Longlands estate - the ‘top of town’ off Westgate opposite White Abbey -or have memories of it for other reasons such as work or family connections. We will record the discussions and include them in a book we hope to launch by the end of the year.

Growing up in Bradford, I often felt drawn to the stretch of Westgate between what used to be the Morrisons store and the start of Lumb Lane. I was fascinated by the distinctive tenement blocks behind shops on Westgate. Whilst built for social housing, and at the time looking to have seen better days, their style was radically different from anything else I’d seen in Bradford, and I knew there had to be an interesting story as to why they were there.

The story of Longlands, on the north-western edge of the city centre, is one of the most important in the history of modern Bradford and had a direct impact on its housing policy. In the late 19th century Longlands was one of several ‘lost’ neighbourhoods circling Bradford town centre. It was made up of back-to-back terraced housing with small courtyards and poor sanitation. The crowded neighbourhood had amenities such as butchers, greengrocers, bake houses, pubs, and blacksmiths. Many of the houses weren't structurally sound, with typically four families per house, and many people sleeping on floors. Disease and infant mortality rates were high.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chain Street as it looks today Chain Street as it looks today

In response to concerns, Independent Labour Party councillor Frederick Jowett pressed for the properties to be demolished and replaced with purpose-built social housing. As Chair of the Health Committee he launched a public inquiry and by 1909, the area had been rebuilt with five tenement blocks, three of which survive today. The estate was extended in 1914. The Longlands restoration was a model for further slum clearances in Bradford.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Faxfleet estate near Odsal Top, where Longlands residents were relocated while the area was being cleared Faxfleet estate near Odsal Top, where Longlands residents were relocated while the area was being cleared

Next week's event are run by the Neighbourhood Project CIC which is researching the history of the Longlands estate, often referred to as ‘Chain Street’ or ‘Upper Goitside’. We want to talk to people who lived, worked, volunteered, owned property or a business, or had some other connection with the area or nearby. We're especially interested in people who lived in the area after the Second World War.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chain Street before its multi-million pound renovation in 2016Chain Street before its multi-million pound renovation in 2016

The events will be informal discussions, giving people an opportunity to reminisce about Longlands and share stories. Contributions will be anonymous unless people give us permission to name them. We will provide light refreshments and repay travel expenses for attending. To find out more contact me, Jonathan Crewdson, on 07422 715910 or email mail@neighbourhoodproject.org.uk

* The memory bank events are on Wednesday, June 29 at the Millside Centre on Grattan Road, Bradford, from 10.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm-4pm.

Jonathan Crewdson is Director of the Neighbourhood Project CIC, which campaigns for community resident-led action.