THE city centre of Bradford was, in the 19th century, made up of several close-knit communities, each with its own name and identity.

But they became forgotten neighbourhoods, now no longer referred to by their original names.

Now the stories of Bradford’s ‘lost neighbourhoods’ are to be explored and preserved as part of a community research project. The Neighbourhood Project, which promotes the identity and researches the history of Bradford communities, has received £8,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to gather memories of people who once lived in these long forgotten areas of the city.

The project will examine the histories of 15 areas that were once individual communities but now make up parts of the city centre. As well as places such as Little Germany and Goitside, which have had more raised profiles in recent decades thanks largely to regeneration schemes, the project will also look at lesser known districts such as Bermondsey, which was around the Forster Square station area; New Leeds, which was at the lower end of Leeds Road; Wapping, which followed Bolton Road up beyond the Shipley-Airedale Road; and Broomfields, which covered a small area close to Bradford Interchange.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mills of the Wapping area pictured in 1955Mills of the Wapping area pictured in 1955 (Image: Newsquest)

Says Jonathan Crewdson, Director of the Neighbourhood Project CIC: “In 2022-23, the Neighbourhood Project carried out a research project to capture the memories of people who had lived in Longlands, which is close to Westgate and the first neighbourhood to be demolished for slum clearance and rebuilt by Bradford Corporation.

“That work was very successful and resulted in a book which is now available for free online.

“This new project, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, builds on this work and will run a series of memory banks across the other former neighbourhoods of the city centre, inviting people who have lived or worked in these places to share with us their stories which we can then capture for posterity.

“This will all result in a series of short videos on the history of each place, available on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, which we aim to have completed towards the end of 2024.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Longlands was comprised of cramped housingLonglands was comprised of cramped housing

The Neighbourhood Project has run training and support programmes in the city leading to spin-off ventures run by local people to regenerate their neighbourhoods.

Last year, following an appeal in the T&A, it collected memories of people who lived and worked in the Longlands area of the city centre - now known as Chain Street - has a significant place in the country’s housing legacy.

Tucked away off Westgate, Longlands 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.

In the 1800s sanitation was poor and the population was high, along with infant mortality rates and disease. Concerns about 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 remain.

The Longlands restoration had a direct impact on housing policy in the early 20th century and was a model for further slum clearances in Bradford.

Last year the Neighbourhood Project carried out further research, into the post-war history of Longlands, with a team of volunteers interviewing former residents of the flats. People who lived elsewhere in the historic neighbourhood were also invited to share their memories.

“One by one, these old neighbourhoods have either gone or been radically changed and most of their names are no longer commonly used,” says Jonathan. “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.

Growing up in Bradford, Jonathan felt drawn to the ‘top of town’, particularly the stretch of Westgate between the former Morrisons store site and Lumb Lane.

“I was fascinated by the Victorian shops lining the opposite side of the road, aided by several independent record shops where I’d spend my free time browsing for bargains,” he recalls. “Of equal fascination were the tenement blocks behind the 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. I knew there had to be an interesting story as to why they were there. This led me to spend many hours in the reference library, searching for anything mentioning this area, looking at old maps and trying to piece together what led them to be built.

“The story of Longlands, this unique site on the north-western edge of the city centre, is one of the most important in the history of modern Bradford. It certainly ranks alongside Margaret McMillan’s efforts for children and education in terms of social progress”

* The Neighbourhood Project plans to hold a talk on the history of Bradford city centre early in 2024. There will be training available for anyone who would like to be involved in the new research project. For more information contact Jonathan Crewdson on 07422 715910 or email him at

For more about the Neighbourhood Project CIC visit