“WHAT a brilliant way of telling both Undercliffe Cemetery and Bradford’s history. I’ve learned so much today.”

An oft-repeated comment from visitors at the launch of new Trail Boards at the historic cemetery. With the sun overhead, wildflowers nodding in the breeze and birds trilling a welcome, the scene was set for a walk of discovery by excited visitors, aged seven to 87.

“Visitors found the boards fascinating,” said trustee Jacqui Ambler. “Many regulars turned up early, intrigued by the publicity. Others brought friends who had never visited the cemetery before, and a teacher, with children and families from Peel Park School came to celebrate the children’s Discovery Board, which they had a hand in designing.”

Broadcaster Christa Ackroyd opened the event, telling of her connection with the cemetery as a child and of its importance to Bradford and its history. She asked youngsters in the crowd to cut the ribbon with her.

Christa Ackroyd opening the Trail Boards Christa Ackroyd opening the Trail Boards (Image: Irene Lofthouse)

The strains of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights marked the official opening as visitors collected maps and explored the 20 Trail boards. Volunteers were on hand with information on burials, plots, timeline, family research and more.

The trail highlights remarkable people of Bradford, past and present. It includes sporting champions, artists, musicians, writers and wildlife that lives in and visits the cemetery.

“Our cafe was a welcome staging post,” continued Jacqui. “It was lovely to see everyone chatting, enjoying a cuppa and perusing books on the cemetery in the Lodge. We were blown away by the wonderful feedback and comments. We thank Christa for being with us for the whole event, people really enjoyed having time to chat with her.”

Big thanks to Cath Muldowney for the photography and giving her time; to all the cafe, information and site volunteers and to Pav Iqbal for loan of PA equipment. Without their input and support, the event wouldn’t have happened. Thanks also to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Bradford Council who funded the Trails Board project.

Comments from those who attended included: “I know a lot about Bradford, but today I’ve found so many stories I wasn’t aware of.”

“How lovely to explore this space and have a picnic in the peaceful surroundings.”

“I’ve got family buried here, but never really explored other parts of the cemetery. It’s been fascinating.”

Here are some of the sporting legends highlighted in the trail:

* Buried in Undercliffe Cemetery: Oates Ingham founded the first Bradford Football Club in 1863, which became Park Avenue FC.

Alfred Ayrton helped bring professional football to Bradford, forming Bradford City FC in 1903. The team won the 1911 FA Cup, lifting the trophy made by Bradford-based jewellers, Fattorini’s.

John Lawrence Hickson and Edgar Wilkinson played Rugby Union for England in the late 19th Century.

* More recent champions - who do you know?

Jim Laker, born 1922, Frizinghall. One of the greatest spin bowlers in cricketing history, he represented England in 46 Test Matches.

Anita Lonsbrough attended St Joseph’s College, Manningham. 1960 Rome Olympics, she won Gold in the 200m breast-stroke. First woman to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, 1962.

Dorothy Perkins, Great Horton. A 19-year-old shirt-maker when she swam from Calais to Dover in 20 hours 26 minutes, 1961.

Harvey Smith, born 1938, Bingley. Show-jumping champion, competing twice in the Olympics: 1968/Mexico City and 1972/Munich.

Rodney Foster, Shipley. Yorkshire’s youngest-ever golf champ, aged 18. A member of Great Britain Walker Cup Team that beat the US, 1971.

Martin Lampkin, Silsden. First-ever trials bike world champion, 1975. His son, Dougie, has won many world titles and wheelied the Isle of Man TT circuit!

Richard Dunn fought Muhammad Ali in May 1976 for world heavyweight title. Although beaten, his courage in taking on ‘The Greatest’ is still remembered. Richard lived on Undercliffe Old Road at the time.

Richard Dunn at a Muhammed Ali exhibition at the Midland Hotel Richard Dunn at a Muhammed Ali exhibition at the Midland Hotel (Image: Newsquest)

Joe Johnson, born Bradford, 1952. Became World Snooker Champion, thrashing Steve Davis 18-12 in 1986 final.

Bradford snooker champion Joe JohnsonBradford snooker champion Joe Johnson (Image: Image submitted)

Adrian Moorhouse, Bingley. Dominated British swimming in 1980s, winning Gold at 1988 Seoul Olympics for 100 metres breast-stroke.

John Hawkridge, has a passion for mountaineering. In 1988, despite great difficulties in walking due to cerebral palsy, he conquered the highest mountain in the world, hauling himself up on walking sticks. The BBC recorded this herculean feat in Everest the Hard Way.

Jill Atkins led England’s hockey team to a Bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics, 1992.

Ann Daniels, Allerton. In 2022, she and a team-mate became first women to walk North and South Poles. Named one of top 20 Great British Adventurers of all time.

Yvonne McGregor, Wibsey. Won a Bronze cycling medal at 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Leon Pryce captained England rugby schools’ side. Played for Bradford Bulls, making full début for England in 1999.

Heather Smith attended Hanson School and played rugby in the Premiership: a leading light in promoting the women’s game.

Adil Rashid, born 1988, Bradford. Got his first England Cricket Test cap in 2015.

Carlton Bolling Girls’ Cricket Team narrowly missed becoming national champions in the 2017 final at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Ella Curtis, Baildon cyclist, won Gold at the Special Olympics World Games, Berlin 2023.