Priestman Tuke was a wholesale grocer and a pioneer.

He is believed to have owned the first car in Bradford, a three and a half horsepower Arnold Benz he bought in 1895, and one day actually drove it, at around 12mph top speed, from Harrogate.

This epic journey left his car in need of some repairs, and so he dropped it in at the Bradford Cycle and Motor-car Company in Unicorn Passage in Hustlergate, near Ivegate.

Now if Tuke was a pioneer, the young man who worked on his car could be called a visionary.

He was Albert House and he was deeply in love with anything mechanical which moved. It started with bikes. Then, when the first automobiles made their appearance, it was as if the world was conspiring to make him happy.

And when the Wright Brothers made their first flight in 1903, Albert's eyes were opened to a whole new field of possibilities.

The car had put the world at his feet.

Now he wanted the world to be a little further away than that - say a couple of hundred yards below his feet.

The man who convinced him that the future lay in the air was Louis Bleriot, who flew across the English Channel in his monoplane in 1909, winning £1,000, a small fortune, for his achievement.

By now Albert House had gone his own way. His employers had not been enamoured of the motor car. If you wanted a vehicle with three and a half horse power, then buy a carriage and put three and a half horses in the shafts - that seemed to be their attitude.

So the young House, who had made friends with the likes of Albert Farnell and other internal combustion enthusiasts, branched out, promoting the car at a number of exhibitions in the city.

He also became the owner of the first motor wagonette - precursor of the bus - in Bradford and set up in a business, which prospered.

When Bleriot made his flight in July of 1909, Albert House had the wherewithal and the equipment to take an interest. He didn't mess about. By September the Northern Aero Syndicate had been formed, following a flying meeting in Blackpool and the following month Albert travelled to France and bought a monoplane - the first built by Bleriot after his Channel-crossing machine - which arrived in Bradford in pieces by train. There was a lot of interest, and Albert charged sixpence a time to view the machine at his garage at the bottom of Oak Lane, near Lister Park.

He and Bleriot were not strangers. The French flier had earlier been in business making car lamps and the two men had been in contact before the 1909 flight.

In 1910, at Rawdon Meadows at Apperley Bridge, Bradford had its first aerodrome and hangar - only about three miles from today's Leeds-Bradford International Airport, just up the road in Yeadon. The pioneering pilot was Albert's son John William, known to the family as Jack.

The syndicate's field was leased from Esholt Sewage Works but, in this case, although there was muck there wasn't as much brass as had been hoped.

The plane was exhibited at Halifax Zoo at Christmas 1909, but the public imagination was more tickled than captured, although the Yorkshire Aero Club had by now claimed 250 members, including Albert Farnell.

When Jack House was married in 1910, the monoplane was transported to a hangar near his house in Filey. The sand there provides some of the best beach cricket wickets in the Northern Hemisphere. They now also provided a solid runway. Jack House was to survive three crashes in the ensuing six months, but carried on flying enthusiastically.

Bradford's geography weighed against it for aviation - surrounded by hills, and with very few flat surfaces on those hills, it was far from ideal for flying.

But typically, it had people who tried, inspired by a vision of something nebulous, tantalising and promising called progress.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.