The strange tale of how a Victorian Bradford railway worker had a small African town named after him was being celebrated at a City Hall reception this afternoon.

People from Sierra Leone in West Africa - where there is a town called Bradford - were meeting the Lord Mayor of Bradford to seal the links between the two towns.

Emma Harris, from Sierra Leone and an MA student in Peace Studies at Bradford University, said: "Not many people realise there is a town called Bradford in Sierra Leone. It is an amazing story on how it came to be named.

"We are trying to rebuild after the country's civil war and anything which helps is a good thing. The fact there are ties between the two Bradfords is a good thing. It is great the link is being celebrated in this way. I love being in this Bradford."

In Sierra Leone she lives about 40 miles from the town of Bradford, founded about 100 years ago by a surveyor sent out from our city to help with the construction of the country's railway.

He was known as "Our John Bull" and dubbed "Mr Bradford" by locals because they found it difficult to pronounce his real name.

He became a legend in the area for his generosity. Rumour had it he would give out tobacco, rum and money to the locals.

Many used to visit his house in Little Moyamaba and would say they were going "to Bradford" to see him. In recognition the town was later renamed Bradford.

The town has a strong tradition of fishing and farming. There was also a strong mining industry which was devastated by the civil war. Now there is a major effort to rebuild.

The town is run by Chief Max Bendu, a headteacher in his late 40s, serving in a caretaker capacity since the death of Paramount Chief Kenei Nyanaga II.

" It is his desire to welcome any form of developmental programme that will relieve the people of poverty, provide jobs and activate the village once more. The people are warm, peaceful and hospitable," added Emma.

The reception was organised in conjunction with Bradford Peace Museum as many students from Sierra Leone are taking courses here.

Peter Nias, of the museum, said: "There is no formal twinning arrangement but we are delighted to recognise the links between us."