As the Clean Air Act of the 1950s took effect, Bradfordians in the Sixties had a better view of their city. It was changing before their eyes.

The consequences of the redevelopment master plan of Bradford Corporation’s chief engineer Stanley Wardley, conceived in the smoggy, foggy days since 1953, became clearer to all. Acres of Victorian and Edwardian warehousing and offices were demolished.

The 1960s saw the end of Swan Arcade, John Street Market, Collinson’s Cafe and the Mechanics Institute, and other landmarks.

New office blocks faced by Portland stone instead of Yorkshire sandstone, roundabouts, subways and multi-lane roads reshaped central Bradford, effectively dividing it, a problem Bradford has struggled to overcome ever since.

More roads resulted in more motorists. But local authority ambivalence about private motorists has remained a bone of contention for nearly 50 years.

In 1965, the year coincidentally that Stanley Wardley died, the trans-Pennine M62 motorway was opened. Much hope was placed in this connection to the bigger cities of the South.

The following year, Prime Minister Harold Wilson was made Chancellor of the University of Bradford.

Bradford’s David Hockney, the Royal College of Art’s gold medal-winning student, had dyed his hair blond and was making a name for himself as an artist on both sides of the Atlantic.

One of the men Bradford Corporation did business with was Pontefract architect John Poulson, who cultivated local authority contacts and was rewarded with lucrative contracts. His firm designed Forster House in Bradford, demolished in 2005 to make way for a shopping mall.

The roof was to fall in on Poulson’s operation in July 1972, when the Metropolitan Police began a fraud investigation.

For the young, the 1960s were golden years. National Service and the death penalty were abolished. The unknown phenomenon of youth culture boomed. But for others the decade marked the point when things started to go to the dogs.

In Bradford, cinemas were closing. Between 1960 and 1969, at least 15 ‘fleapits’ were closed.

One of them, the Victoria Cinema at Girlington, made way for the first William Morrison supermarket. In December 1963, the T&A, a broadsheet evening paper in those days, carried an artist’s impression of a £125,000 new Morrisons development at Bolton Junction.

The winds of change blew away a good deal of Bradford’s railway infrastruture too. In 1965 alone, local stations at Apperley Bridge, Low Moor, Saltaire, Frizinghall and Manningham were all axed as part of Lord Beeching’s rationalisation.

Fifty years ago to this very day, on February 11, 1962, the winds of change took the form of a tornado which bashed through Bradford, ripping apart trees, buildings, plate-glass windows, billboards and even parked aircraft at the airport. More than 3,500 council houses were damaged.

Three of Bradford Park Avenue’s 120ft-high floodlight towers collapsed, as though presaging the end of the road for the club in the Football League, which was to come in 1970. A version of the Northern Lights occurred in the night sky in the west.

“High tension electric cables at the top of Allerton were shorting and flashing every few seconds as they were battered by wind and rain,” the T&A told its readers the following day. “Manchester Road was a trail of wrecked hoardings, smashed shop windows and ripped shop canopies flapping on twisted frames.”

That violent storm was nature’s warm-up for the following winterwhen for the best part of four months, snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures were the norm.

The weather was turning decidely sharp in the early hours of Monday, December 2, 1963, when an estimated 300 people, mostly young, camped outside the Gaumont. They were waiting for the box office to open to buy tickets for the chart-topping Beatles’ Christmas show.

The Beatles came and went in triumph, but the warmth generated in the cinema was not matched by the temperature outside. For five consecutive nights, Bradford experienced temperatures of -5.5C.

Over three days and nights of the Christmas period, there were 96 road traffic accidents in Bradford. Three people were killed and 40 more injured. Those were the days before seat belts and the breathalyser, the days of cheap beer, when a pint cost about 1 shilling and 7 pence, or 8p.

On the last day of June 1968, Paul McCartney and entourage left the Victoria Hotel in Bradford for a date with the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band at Victoria Hall, Saltaire. He had come to town to record part of a song called Thingumybob.

Little did anyone know that his departure later that Sunday was the last time that a Beatle would be in Bradford. The most famous band in the world was about to break up.

The next day, the sky blackened. By mid-morning, night had fallen on Bradford followed by a torrential rainstorm. In about 30 minutes almost an inch of water filled subways and swept along Hall Ings – formerly Union Street. Divers were sent down flooded subways, but thankfully nobody died.

Bradford coped with that little difficulty with characteristic stoicism, just as it had coped with the smallpox scare in December 1961 in which at least three people died. In response, an emergency vaccination centre was opened at the Edmund Street clinic. By January, about 100,000 people had been innoculated.

Wrestling, greyhound-racing and speedway were all popular pastimes in the 1960s. Within the next two decades they vanished from the city.

Greater change and turmoil awaited in the years to come.