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Undercliffe Cemetery Trail

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Why have we developed a Cemetery Trail at Undercliffe?

As volunteers at the Undercliffe Cemetery Charity, we have felt for some time that some introductory information was needed on the site itself, in addition to what is available on our website. Visitors may like to know something of the Cemetery’s story, and how this links with the wider history of Bradford and beyond.

We are grateful to both the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Bradford Council for providing grants to fund the project. Once this was secured, a group of us got together to create a Trail which would share our passion for the cemetery, and for the Bradford District. The project has coincided with the run up to the 2025 City of Culture: perfect timing!

At the beginning of the Trail Project, we thought we knew a fair amount of history, but have learnt so much from the process of developing the Trail content. We have scoured the local studies sections of our brilliant Bradford libraries; had help from experts at higher education institutions, the Bradford Museums Service, and the Telegraph and Argus newspaper; consulted with knowledgeable individuals and groups and worked with staff and children at a local primary school. Our thanks go to all who contributed.

We hope that you get as much joy from the Trail as we have had creating it.

Jacqui Ambler
Sue Crossley
Tim Hardy
Irene Lofthouse

Undercliffe Cemetery Charity Trail Project Group

Welcome to the Undercliffe Cemetery Trail

Undercliffe Cemetery is one of the most important burial sites in the country, known now as ‘the Highgate of the North’. It’s the final resting place of the whole spectrum of Bradford society since the mid-nineteenth century. Six of its stunning monuments are so important that they’re listed buildings. The beauty of the Cemetery’s overall design is also recognised in its Grade 2* listed status in Historic England’s Register of Parks and Gardens.
And yet – at the end of the 1970s – it was abandoned, vandalised and facing a bleak future.
The Cemetery was originally a commercial enterprise started by a group of Bradford entrepreneurs, including Titus Salt. It was intended to glorify Bradford’s status as one of the richest municipalities in Europe and pay fitting tribute in death to those who’d spent their lives building the wealth and reputation of ‘Worstedopolis’.
More importantly, churchyards were full, creating an urgent need for alternative burial facilities. With Bradford’s rapidly expanding population during the industrial revolution, and disease rife, there was no shortage of demand. William Gay, the celebrated garden designer of the day, was head-hunted from Leicester and commissioned to produce something spectacular. Using the contours of the land and its commanding position to great effect, he developed one of the great garden cemeteries of the Victorian era here in Bradford, the highest city in England.
The Cemetery was opened to great acclaim and the first burial took place in 1854. After the boom years of the Victorian era however, the Bradford Cemetery Company declined, finally falling into liquidation in the late 1970s. The site deteriorated rapidly, and tragically, all its buildings were demolished. Many Bradfordians were horrified, leading to The Friends of Undercliffe Cemetery being formed. It took four years of relentless campaigning but in the end, Bradford Council were persuaded to compulsorily purchase the ravaged site.
Initial work was undertaken by a Manpower Services Commission scheme. A Charity was then established from members of the Friends and others to run the Cemetery on a 60-year lease. The Charity’s dedicated volunteers continue to manage the site for the public benefit. More than a century and a half later, the beauty of William Gay’s design and the breath-taking position of the Cemetery’s hillside location do not disappoint – a wonderful place to enjoy a walk, appreciate the flora and fauna of the wilder areas and the breath-taking views.

The Cemetery Trail is a celebration of diverse lives, of those remembered for their achievements, and those caught up in the events that shaped Bradford’s history. As you discover the Trail boards placed across the 26-acre site, you will see that each tells you something about the Cemetery, about Bradford’s past, and about the contemporary life of the city. Lots of the individuals we celebrate came from humble beginnings, some migrating to Bradford from elsewhere; they went on to excel in manufacturing, scientific innovation, politics, social reform, health research, arts and more. Many possess the indomitable spirit of Bradford: an ability to dream of new possibilities, and with the Yorkshire grit needed to turn them into reality. Their
vision also relied on the hard work and support of others, those without memorials or medals who are also buried and respectfully remembered here.

In addition to the Trail, there are QR codes across the site that provide information about specific graves, including our six listed monuments

Volunteers The Undercliffe Cemetery Charity, which runs the site, has a committed team of volunteers covering Groundwork, Research, Events and Education, and we have a Board of Trustees. They manage and maintain the Cemetery, enable burials to continue, and host a programme of events – including one of the best-attended annual Remembrance events in the region every November.

We’re proud our work was recognised with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in Queen Elizabeth’s 2022 Platinum Jubilee Year

Thanks go to Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority for their grants, which have enabled us to develop this Cemetery Trail. We’d also like to extend our appreciation to everyone who has been with us on this journey for their support and contributions including the Telegraph & Argus newspaper.

If you are interested in purchasing a plot… or trying to locate a grave:
Get in touch – we’re happy to chat! You can: Call in to the Lodge at the Undercliffe Lane entrance during opening hours. You can email: or phone 01274 642276

Places of interest nearby
Peel Park (BD3 0LG) is at the end of Harrogate Street, opposite to the Cemetery’s Otley Road entrance. The Park was laid out by William Gay – the same designer as the Cemetery.
Bradford Industrial Museum, Moorside Road (BD2 3HP) is less than a mile away. The Museum displays many of the innovations developed by those buried at Undercliffe, including Scott Motorcycles, Jowett cars and power looms which can regularly be seen in action

Children’s Discovery Board
We hope you are enjoying finding the 20 information boards placed around this green space.
The first information board was made in partnership with children from Peel Park Primary School and their history teacher, Harjyot Hayer, in 2023. The children had guided tours of the Cemetery, and a visit to the school by a Victorian lady and gentleman. Charity Trustees in costume, Mr Jackson and Ms Ambler, answered questions about the early days of Undercliffe Cemetery and why it was needed in the 1850s.
At the end of the project, the pupils talked about what information they would like to see in the Cemetery for children. They decided on a ‘Spot the Monument’ task; Fun Facts, and a Quiz requiring some detective work around the site.

The result was the Children’s Discovery Board.

The answers to the quiz in the ‘Fun Facts’ sections are:
1/ There are over 123,000 people buried here.
2/ The tallest monument is Joseph Smith’s at the end of the Promenade, with the view across Bradford. It is over 10 metres high.
3/ The area where the gravestones are laid flat is the Quaker Section. It can be found to the east of the Lodge near the wall by Undercliffe Old Road. The stones are laid flat to show the Quaker belief that no person is more important than any other.
4/ The only building in the Cemetery is the Lodge which can be found at the Undercliffe Lane entrance. The Lodge was moved from Rooley Lane and re-built at the Cemetery. The stones were all numbered with chalk so that they could be built back in the same position as they were in the original building.
5/ The white monument on the Promenade is to Ann Barlow, ‘The White Lady’. She is holding a baby.
6/ The sovereign who was on the throne for longer than Queen Victoria was Queen Elizabeth II who died in 2022. She reigned for over 70 years.

We hope that you have had fun exploring the Cemetery. 

See you again soon!

Undercliffe Cemetery Charity

The Architects of Bradford
By the 1860s, Bradford had progressed from a provincial market town to an emergent city, with architects designing a range of buildings with confidence and flair. There were a number of outstanding firms. Mallinson and Healey were the designers of the first buildings at Undercliffe Cemetery. However, the most celebrated practice was Lockwood and Mawson, who formed a partnership in 1849 and designed some of Bradford’s most prominent buildings, including St George’s Hall, the Wool Exchange and the Town (now City) Hall. Their most prestigious undertaking was laying out Saltaire, a model industrial village, for Titus Salt.

After Lockwood left to practise in London, Mawson went into partnership with his brother, Richard. Mawson died in 1889 and is buried here in plot C H779. His monument is a towering obelisk, from which he looks out at us from a bronze plaque: it is one of six listed monuments in the Cemetery. Architecturally, Mawson’s era might be looked back on as Bradford’s glory days, after the decline in the city’s fortunes in the 20th century. However, some of the industrial and commercial Victorian buildings that were abandoned have been successfully converted into apartments, offices and shops; the Wool Exchange is now recognised as one of the country’s most attractive Waterstones bookshops. The jewel in the crown, however, remains Saltaire. It was Jonathan Silver who purchased Titus Salt’s redundant and dilapidated mill in 1987 and transformed it into a cultural and commercial hub. It was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. Today, it houses a gallery devoted to the works of the internationally celebrated Bradford-born artist David Hockney.

A re-purposing of other much-loved Bradford buildings is underway: the Odeon in the city-centre is being transformed into a music venue after a long campaign by Norman Littlewood, amongst others, to prevent its demolition. The Brontë Birthplace in Thornton has been purchased by a group of enthusiasts with a view to opening it up to the public in time for Bradford’s 2025 City of Culture year.

Chapel Greens
As you look at this lawned area, and the mirror-image on the other side of the driveway, there is nothing to see of any significance. Once upon a time however, there were two sets of chapels here.
Initially when the Cemetery opened in 1854, the Bradford Cemetery Company could only afford two temporary ones, possibly wooden. By the mid-1870s though, business was thriving and loans were raised for two permanent buildings: one in the Consecrated Section, and one in the Unconsecrated Section opposite. William Mawson, of the architects’ firm Lockwood and Mawson, contributed to the loans, and it was his brother, Richard, who designed them.
On the 28 Feb 1878, Henry Brown laid the foundation stone for the other side, and a ‘time capsule’ bottle containing newspapers of the day was hidden in the foundations on this side. Henry Brown died just a few weeks later on the 25 March 1878. His memorial is close by on the Promenade: as well as being Chairman of the Cemetery Company, he was a partner in Brown Muff & Co, the Bradford department store, and was Mayor 1856-59. Completed in 1879 by builders Murgatroyd and Spencer, the matching permanent chapels were constructed in ashlar sandstone. Each could accommodate 160 people and each had a mortuary at one side separated by an oak screen
According to the Bradford Observer, the windows were of a “simple but attractive design”. However, drawings held at the West Yorkshire Archives show elaborate designs for stained glass windows by the Camm Brothers. We do not know if these designs were used – if they were, they would have looked magnificent! Intriguingly, documents recently discovered from the 1920s show the Anglican chapel windows insured for £100, whereas the nonconformist ones were insured for £700. Could the wonderful Camm windows have been installed in just one of the chapels?
One hundred years after their construction, as the Cemetery Company was facing liquidation, the stone chapels were sinking into dereliction. Once the site was purchased by a local property developer, all the buildings, including the chapels, were demolished.

Commemorating Children
Looking at the inscriptions on Victorian-era gravestones here, you’ll see almost all refer to one or more children. The rich were not spared this tragedy, as the ‘White Lady’ illustrates.
The reclining woman cradles a baby, showing an everyday story of the dangers of pregnancy and birth for women and their babies. For centuries before ‘the Pill’ and other forms of birth control became widely available, most women gave birth to many children. On average, half of their children died by the age of 10. The work of Undercliffe Cemetery Charity research volunteers shows that about 40% of past burials are of babies and children. After the Second World War, the introduction of the welfare state aimed to address the poverty and disease that cut short so many lives. In 1948, the NHS was created, giving everyone free access to medical treatment for the first time. More recently, Bradford has been at the forefront of child-focused health research including the Born in Bradford project.
Losing a Child
Parents still experience the pain of losing a child during pregnancy, at birth, or during childhood. Sands (, a national charity, provides support to bereaved parents. They fund research and promote best practice in hospitals so that when a baby does die, those affected can get support. The Bradford Sands group of parents have created a Memory Garden at their allotment at Northcliffe Park, Shipley.
Born in Bradford project
This internationally recognised research programme tracks the lives of over 60,000 Bradfordians, aiming to find out what keeps them healthy. Findings are used to develop new ways of working with families to improve health and well-being.
Bereavement & Grief
Death is a universal reality. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, although talking can help. Researchers at the University of Bradford ran the ‘Continuing Bonds’ and ‘Dying 2 Talk’ projects to help people, including children, to talk more openly about death. This is more important than ever following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Company Graves
‘Company Graves’ (commonly known as Pauper Graves) were for the poor, including those from the workhouse. In the Unconsecrated Section alone, there are approximately 10,000 graves and about 10% of these are Company Graves. In plot U K619 there are sixty-nine bodies: nineteen are adults and others range from stillborn to minors. Graves were left open until they were filled. The grave was closed only when no more bodies could be interred. These plots needed deeper digging than normal, so sites would be chosen to make sure there would be enough space. In plot U I625 (at the end of graves 45/46) there are five adults, eight children and three stillborn
Death was everywhere in Victorian times. Overcrowded houses spread diseases quickly as large families lived in one room, huddled together at night. Houses could have five families sharing a midden (toilet) that might also be used by people in a row of terraces. Sewage in streets, polluted water, poor diet and starvation contributed to poor health. Wool sorters’ disease affected lungs from fibres and anthrax, and numerous accidents caused fatal blood poisoning. In the 1880s burials cost one/two shillings* for a stillborn, a day’s wages for an adult. A worker’s yearly wage was soon depleted from family deaths, leading to destitution and the workhouse. As coffins added to costs, in the early days most people would have been buried wrapped in cloth. More information is being revealed about those in these graves as we continue digitising the records
Burials for the poor still continue. Councils have a statutory duty to carry out public health funerals for people who have died alone, in poverty, or are unclaimed by relatives. Such burials still take place at Undercliffe Cemetery today.
Nancy de Garrs, the Brontës’ nursemaid/housekeeper, evaded a similar fate. In her later years, due to her poverty, she was in the workhouse and feared ending up in a Pauper Grave. Fortunately for her, funds were raised for a personal grave. Nancy is buried in plot U B319.
In the 1880s: One Shilling = 12 Old Pennies and Twenty Shillings = One Pound

Invasions by Romans, waves of Scandinavian raids, the Norman Conquest, the Earl of Newcastle besieging the town in the Civil War: Bradford residents have experienced many conflicts. They’ve also travelled overseas to defend their country – men and women alike. Approximately 400 war casualties are remembered here from various conflicts, including the Boer, Crimean and two World Wars. One of the earliest Victoria Cross (VC) recipients from the Crimean War, Matthew Hughes buried in plot C N388 has his memorial here.
Two Bradford Pals Battalions were created after the World War One call-out for soldiers. Friends and work colleagues set off to fight a war predicted to last a few months. In 1916 they arrived at the Somme, in France. On July 1st around 1,200 Bradford Pals left the trenches to attack. They were cut down, many dying within minutes – 968 were either killed, wounded or missing in action – one of the highest casualty rates on that first day of the Battle of the Somme. Women became Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses. Mabel Marshall plot U H125 at St Luke’s Hospital; Alberta Vickridge at the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay. Frances Hildred Mitchell, Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, has a Commonwealth War Grave at Utley Cemetery. Both Mabel and Frances died in the 1918 flu epidemic.
William Barraclough, killed in action, was the first Bradford Pal commemorated at the Cemetery. He’s buried at Sucrerie Military Cemetery on the Somme William’s older brother, Fred, plot C A63, age 26, was mortally wounded, dying at Nettley War Hospital, Southampton. Given a full military funeral, his coffin was carried here on a horse-drawn gun carriage.
Commemorated here from World War Two is 27 year old stretcher bearer Eric Anderson plot C E482 from Fagley. Awarded a VC for bringing three soldiers to safety under fire but was killed attempting to save a fourth casualty.

Dr Elaine Laycock, from Idle, spent years providing humanitarian support in war zones. She has established the first annual memorial service at Westminster Abbey for aid workers killed in conflict.

Creatives making a splash – Look around: art is everywhere here in the stonemasons’ craft.
John Worsnop’s memorial plot U B165 reflects work as both artist and photographer. John Sowden plot U I617 famously began painting Bradford worthies and street characters in 1887. Arthur North plot U M312 specialised in amusing sketches for The Yorkshireman. John Throp sculpted a weeping woman as a memorial for Miles Moulson plot U I225, one of 6 listed monuments here

Other Bradford Artists… Adeline Sarah Illingworth, from Manningham, was an etcher and print-maker who exhibited at the British Museum. Louisa Pesel used embroidery as therapy for WW1 soldiers at the Bradford Khaki Club; their altar cloth is on display at Bradford Cathedral. Laurence Scarfe, from Idle, is celebrated for his murals and illustrations for the Radio Times. David Hockney, of Eccleshill, has had his experimental visual art displayed in various parts of the city since 1987, including breathing new life into Salts Mill through art. Bradford City of Culture 2025; Keighley-born Creative Director – Shanaz Gulzar – showcases artists from the past, present and future to a world-wide audience.

Local Melody Makers… Listen: what birdsong can you hear? Bradford’s Frederick Delius was inspired to compose On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. William Jackson left work as a miller to create the Bradford Festival Chorus. They performed for Queen Victoria and paid for his monument here plot(U I391. Gertie Millar, from Manningham, performed musical comedies at the turn of the 20th century, before bowing out to marry the Earl of Dudley.
More recent musicians have had their share of fame: Kiki Dee was the first white female singer signed to Motown Records. Tasmin Archer, Brendan Croker, Gareth Gates, Zayn Malik, Heather Peace – all born in Bradford. Then there are bands: amongst so many others, The Cult, New Model Army, Terrorvision and those Living Next Door to Alice anthem-writers, Smokie. And our brass bands continue to raise a rumpus!

Many Bradford venues provide platforms: jazz at the Latvian Club, bands at the Underground, classical concerts and choirs at the Cathedral, musicals at The Alhambra, Eccy Meccy’s Northern Soul, Bingley Live Festival, and the old Bradford Odeon, re-born as Bradford Live.

Up here in Undercliffe, we hope that a different kind of music will, one day, return: a cuckoo call.

Imagine being the child who ate the first free school meal in 1907, served by Green Lane Primary Headteacher, Jonathan Priestley (JB Priestley’s dad). Or one of the children to slip into the water of the first elementary school
swimming baths in the country, at Wapping Road School in November 1898. Bradford has been fortunate to have many education visionaries.
It was Bradford’s own Liberal MP, William Edward Forster, who was the brains behind the Elementary Education Act of 1870. This was the foundation stone of our school system, making basic education available to all through local School Boards. Forster Square Station commemorates his memory. An inscription on his statue in London also salutes his achievement:

“To his wisdom and courage England owes the establishment throughout the land of a national system of elementary education”

Later, Margaret McMillan, moved by the childhood deprivation she saw here, observed that education on an empty stomach was a waste of time and money, and she agitated for school feeding in the city. She also campaigned for nursery education and better provision for children with disabilities, established the baths at Wapping, and introduced the first school medical inspections in 1899. These showed the beneficial impact of Bradford’s innovations on children’s health, and the city became known nationally for its educational reforms. She moved south when her own health declined, was awarded a CBE and became a Companion of Honour. She is commemorated in Bradford at Margaret McMillan Primary School and Dixons McMillan Academy.

James Hanson, who is buried here, was also an influential innovator. As a member of the Bradford School Board, he was able to create the first local authority Higher Grade School (essentially the first Local Authority Secondary School) in the country – at Feversham Street in 1876. It had a scientific and commercial focus to develop skills needed to keep Bradford at the forefront of textile production. School Boards were eventually replaced by a new Education Act in 1902 which established selective secondary schools, administered by Local Education Authorities. It is fitting that, in addition to his memorial in the Cemetery (U D66), there is a secondary school which bears his name: Hanson Academy can be seen from the Cemetery Promenade.

Bradford has bred generations of passionate photographers. One of the oldest amateur cinematography clubs in the world, Bradford Movie Makers, was formed here in 1932. In 2022, they shot to fame in an award-winning documentary, A Bunch of Amateurs.
Bradford pioneers of the Victorian era were at the forefront of innovation and some are buried here, including Richard James Appleton, plot U C90 and his father, Thomas plot U C29. The Appleton photographic building at 58/60 Manningham Lane still survives.
Thomas Appleton took photographs of the Bradford ‘Worthies’, and thousands of portraits of ordinary people. Richard became interested in film-making and invented his own camera/projector, the Cieroscope. In 1897 he travelled to London to film Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. He processed the footage on the way back, projecting it to thousands on a giant screen in Bradford that same evening. He was also one of the first photographers in the country to take X-ray photographs, seeing patients at his Manningham Lane studio.

The Riley Brothers, trading in Godwin Street, claimed they were the largest manufacturers in the world of magic lanterns, forerunners of the slide projector Leslie Overend, of Eccleshill, was only 13 years old when he climbed to the top of City Hall to photograph crowds gathered to celebrate Armistice Day, 11th November 1918. His photo was published in the Argus newspaper, he joined the staff, and went on to pioneer aerial photography along with others, including C. H. Wood. Later, Shipley-born Tony Richardson achieved fame in cinema, winning Best Director and Best Picture for Tom Jones, 1964.
In 1917, cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths took the Cottingley Fairies photos, which fooled even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. They are archived in Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum, founded in 1983.
Bradford became the first UNESCO City of Film in 2009, recognising our rich film heritage and breath-taking film locations – including Undercliffe Cemetery. This site has provided a striking back-drop for many iconic films/TV series: Billy Liar (1963), LA Without a Map (1998), Peaky Blinders (2013), Ali & Ava (2021). What photos will you be taking here? Share your own ‘hot-shots’ via our social media platforms!

BRADFORD – Most Filthy Town
“Of Bradford I am obliged to pronounce it the most filthy town I visited … with effluent-laden watercourses.” 1844, James Smith, Health of Towns Commission
At this time the average lifespan was 25. Sewage, rotting food in streets and liquids from overflowing graveyards polluted water courses. Overcrowded houses meant people died of airborne diseases. Cholera epidemics illustrated the need for another cemetery – the reason for Undercliffe Cemetery being established. Reports on improving sanitation led to the 1850 Bradford Improvement Act, covering clean water and adequate sewerage provision.
Bradford’s official Analytical Chemist (the ‘Sherlock Holmes of forensic science’) Felix Rimmington plot C G168 investigated reasons for illness and death. He verified Dr Bell’s plot C A824 analysis that arsenic, not cholera, was responsible for 21 deaths and 200 ill in the infamous case of the poisoned sweets; Felix’s work was instrumental in the passing of the 1860 Adulteration of Food Act.
Mill and factory accidents caused workers to lose limbs. The First World War accelerated medical advances in artificial limbs, facial reconstruction, mental health and burns treatments. In 1985, 56 people died and many more had life-altering burns at the Bradford City Fire. Professor David Sharpe of Bradford Royal Infirmary pioneered the ‘Bradford Sling’ to keep burns patients’ arms elevated, helping them to heal. It’s used internationally today.
Prior to the creation of the NHS in 1948, medical treatment had to be paid for. Free glasses, dental work and hearing tests made a big difference to lives. As did maternity care, and the increase in nurses – many
from overseas – like Daphne Steele, the first Black Matron in the NHS at Ilkley.
The 1918 flu epidemic claimed more lives worldwide than the First World War. In Bradford, hundreds died waiting for hospital beds and mask-wearing was recommended. The Covid 19 epidemic showed airborne diseases are still with us. Bradford-based epidemiologist Professor John Wright is continuing research into the origins of the pandemic; his work with Born in Bradford is still assessing the effect on families and children’s health. Health and disease affects each of us differently. In the 21st century, there’s now an ongoing debate about a person’s right to choose when to die.

Today’s average lifespan is 81 – over three times that of the 1840s

SASSY LASSES from all classes

Women and girls meet you at every turn in the Cemetery. Mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, wives and relicts (widows), all contributors to Bradford’s history as child-bearers, carers and workers – but only a few give an idea of their lives.

There’s Mary Ann Hoadley, a fruiterer. Julia Varley OBE plot U H321 teenage mill-worker, union branch secretary,  jailed twice as a Suffragette. Brontë nursemaid/housekeeper Nancy de Garrs. The nursing Schollick sisters, and Christine Chapple plot C H714 who kick-started the vision to preserve Undercliffe Cemetery.

Many of the lasses buried here will have shared in shaping Bradford through their involvement in mill and factory strikes for equal pay, from the 1840s Chartists to the Manningham Mills Strike of 1890 and later. They fought for women to have the right to vote, middle and working-class alike becoming peaceful Suffragists or militant Suffragettes ready to undergo imprisonment for storming Parliament, breaking windows, digging up golf courses, turning reservoirs purple or carrying bomb-making equipment.

Some will have benefited from the first school baths, school dinners and health inspections in England through the influence of Margaret McMillan; others had a holiday thanks to the Cinderella Club, established by Florence Moser; families received child allowance due to campaigning by Bradford’s Margaret Wintringham, first British-born female MP in the House of Commons, or earnings-related pensions via ex-Bradford Girls’ Grammar lass Barbara Castle MP, the first woman Cabinet Minister; and Bradford City Fire survivors received help due to fundraising by Olive Messer, the city’s first Jewish Mayoress.

Today, lasses are still taking a lead locally and nationally. Bana Gora, CEO Muslim Women’s Council; Bradford City of Culture 2025’s Creative Director, Shanaz Gulzar; Anita Rani, Chancellor of the University of Bradford; Adeeba Malik, High Sheriff of West Yorkshire – and many more. In the Cemetery, there will be women and girls who inspired, challenged perceptions, and achieved as those mentioned here did.

We just don’t know their names yet.

The Quaker Section D Unconsecrated
In 1855, the Quakers (or Society of Friends) bought burial rights to the area on which you are now standing.
The Society of Friends was established in Bradford as early as 1665, and despite persecution, they flourished. At the end of the 17th century, a Quaker meeting house was built at Goodmansend, and a burial
ground was established on the site. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, though, the land was sold to enable the expansion of the railways. Goodmansend now lies under Bradford Interchange, and some
500 Quakers from the original burial ground were re-interred here.
Quaker families actively influenced Bradford’s progress through manufacturing, banking, education and the construction of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Some of the most influential are buried here: John Hustler and Henry Harris, Edmund Peckover and his nephew Daniel. Edward West plot U D183 became the first Quaker Mayor of Bradford in 1868. In fact, it was the Hustler family who sold the land at Undercliffe in 1851 for the creation of the Cemetery.
The Quaker Section is easily identifiable, defined by gravestones that are laid flat with modest inscriptions in accordance with the value placed on humility and equality. The Society of Friends were early supporters of the emancipation of slaves, and Quaker women became preachers and prominent social activists, including Edith Priestman (UD146), who was a Suffragette and presided over meetings in Bradford. She supported trade-unionism, even though her husband was a mill-owner. Another important Quaker principle is pacificism. In 1947, following the end of the Second World War,
UK and American Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Society of Friends continues to make an impact. Quaker-established businesses are still well-known: Lloyds and Barclays Banks; Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry’s confectionery; and Clark’s shoes. They have helped to establish organisations for peaceful change: Amnesty International, Oxfam and Greenpeace. In 1973 it was the Quakers who sponsored the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, and a reception was held in the House of Lords in 2023 to mark its 50th anniversary. Bradford also has a Peace Museum, relocating to Salts Mill in 2024, which honours the history of ‘people of peace’.
But when did the Society of Friends begin? They were founded by George Fox in the mid-17th century after he experienced a vision on Pendle Hill, Lancashire. This inspired him to travel extensively, preaching that each individual has God within them, their ‘inner light’.

Breathing space for birds, bats, visiting cats and you
You’re standing in a green oasis; the Cemetery’s 26 acres provide a haven for human visitors and wildlife alike. Here, migratory birds, bees and species of tree can thrive in an urban area. William Gay’s (CI492) original design transformed fields into landscaped areas for the enjoyment of promenading Victorians. Over time headstones have become perches for birds, and surfaces for moss and lichen; commemorative rhododendron shrubs are now home to foxes and occasional stoats. Look out for the bird boxes, bat boxes, bug hotels and hedgehog houses we have placed across the site to encourage wildlife, and the dead-wood log-piles where invertebrates can thrive, and provide a food-source for predators.

We have several oak trees, which the resident jay family love, acorns being their major food source; but they will be in competition with nuthatches, rooks and woodpeckers. Thirty-eight different types of birds use the tree, just one group of the 2,300 species an oak can support with food, shelter and space to breed. Squirrels, caterpillars, bees and moths feed on the flowers and pollen. Bats make roosts in the bark whilst beetles provide food for them. Every part of the tree hosts insects, from the canopy to the roots – where fungi also live on decaying wood and leaves. And this is just ONE tree!

Owls can sometimes be seen hunting at dusk. Look up – birds of prey, including red kites, circle above during the day searching for their next meal. On early Spring mornings, you might espy fox cubs playing before Mum takes them on a trek at night down the road to Peel Park. Often you will spot a local cat lazing on a tomb, then a flash of fur as they leap on an unsuspecting mouse! And we have sometimes had the magical sight of a deer nonchalantly munching in our green space…

There is, of course, a balance to be maintained between the formal areas of the Cemetery, where relatives wish to access graves, and the wilder areas; we know the importance of each, and will
continue to promote both access and biodiversity.

What wildlife photos have you taken? Share them on our social media streams!

Worstedopolis – The mills are alive with the sound of… Spinners, Weavers and Dyers

The discovery of Bronze Age looms in West Yorkshire evidences a long history of textiles here. Sheep populated land unfit for farming. Families spun and wove at home, until the Industrial Revolution changed landscapes and lives. Wool barons built huge mills, and home cloth production moved to them. Railways and canals transported the cloth for export. Bradford became ‘Worstedopolis’, the centre of the woollen world, with hundreds of mills belching smoke, choking landscape and inhabitants alike.

Wool barons at Undercliffe – Bradford was said to have more millionaires than London; many are buried here: Illingworth family plot U G80, Holden family plot U G83, Robert Milligan plot U F12, Jacob Behrens plot U H9.
Some rose from humble beginnings to great wealth. Others became philanthropists, improving conditions for workers, like James Roberts. Beginning work at Old Oxenhope Mill aged eleven, he became a manager, then mill owner. He bought Salts Mill when it fell on hard times and created a pension scheme for workers. In 1928, he purchased the Brontë Parsonage, gifting it to the Brontë Society.
Mill hands (workers) – Early in the 19th century, no laws protected mill hands. Children as young as five worked thirteen-hour days. Richard Oastler, Bradford MP, reduced the working day to ten hours for children. A statue of him can be seen in the city centre. Industrial accidents were frequent. The 1882 Newland Mills disaster claimed 54 lives: some were buried here, including young sisters Sarah Jane & Lilly Burley plot C P117.
Decline and fall – Textile mills declined in the 20th century with competition from abroad. Bradford Cemetery Company was also losing money. John Ambler, last Chairman and descendant of one of the first wool barons, Jeremiah Ambler, oversaw its liquidation – but in the meantime became a member of the Swedish Royal Family!
Rejuvenation – Textiles have become a high-tech industry, but hand-crafting skills are being preserved by the Bradford Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. They demonstrate their skills at Bradford Industrial Museum, where the original machinery of the textile mills can also be seen and heard. Lister’s Mill, once the largest silk mill in the world, has been re-purposed as apartments and home to Mind the Gap, England’s premier learning disability performance company. Meanwhile mill workers’ experiences are being captured for posterity in the Lost Mills and Ghost Mansions project, by 509 Arts.

A Timeline
2000 BC – Small Looms
12TH Century Cloth production began in Yorkshire
Late 17TH Century James Garnett installed first spinning jenny at Paper Hall
1773 Bradford Piece Hall built
1774 Bradford stretch of Leeds to Liverpool canal opened
1798 First steam engine in a Bradford Mill
180113,000 population
1845 First Bradford railway opens
1845 Listers Nip comb patented
1850-90 Little Germany built
1853 Salts Mill opens
1901 280,000 population
20TH Century Textile production declines
21ST Century Many mills demolished or re-purposed

Word Weavers of Worstedopolis
The Brontës aren’t the only word weavers of Bradford. The city’s produced (and still does) award-winning writers from all backgrounds, who explore aspects of life through their words in a variety of mediums.
William Byles plot U A475, manager of the Bradford Observer, once found himself threaded thinly covering roles of editor, sub-editor, publisher, reader of proofs, book-keeper and printer. Joseph Wright from humble origins in Idle was anything but. He taught himself as a child, became a philologist (studier of words) and Professor of Comparative Philology at Oxford University. Another multi-tasker was internationally renowned Bradford lad JB Priestley, who wrote novels, essays, articles, radio talks as well as plays – An Inspector Calls is probably the best-known. JB was also a Hollywood scriptwriter and is seen by many to be the ‘father of CND’. His contemporary and near neighbour Alberta Vickridge, was a poet, publisher and printer, beating Wilfred Owen in the 1918 National Poetry Competition. She’s the only Yorkshire woman awarded a Bardic Crown and Chair.

Writers of all kinds have migrated to and from the city, weaving their way and their words through books, radio, film, TV, audio, podcasts, gaming, open mics, stage, street theatre, festivals, publishing, zines and more.
Bradford actors like Stephanie Turner, Duncan Preston, Kimberley Walsh and Heather Peace bring words alive. The Theatre Royal on Duke Street, managed by Charles Rice plot C I819, and Bradford Playhouse are places that premiere/d new writing. Poetry events (Rhubarb, Front Room Poetry, The Purple Room, Sisterhood) provide platforms for performance. In the last decade creative writing sessions, young people’s workshops and writing organisations opened up opportunities for all ages, alongside the Bradford and Ilkley Literature Festivals, and events in towns and villages celebrating community writing.

In 2023 Bradford Academy’s Isabelle Walker won the National Literacy Trust’s West Yorkshire Young Poet Laureate award for Y9/10. No doubt there will be a flowering of new writing as part of Bradford’s 2025 City of Culture year.
Who will feature on a future Word Weaver board?

A Melting Pot of Bradford Radicals – Look around at the Cemetery’s gravestones: they commemorate many who came and made this city their home.

Bradford is known for being a melting pot of nationalities, having welcomed migrants from all over the world in the mix; Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Russia, Poland, Italy, Belgium, the Basque Country, West Indies, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ukraine, Czechia, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Syria, amongst others.

Bradford also has a reputation for rebelliousness. Rapid expansion in the Industrial Revolution created a huge gap between rich and poor, resulting in social tension. Our activists have fought passionately for change: in working conditions, voting rights and the provision of services. One early reformer, Benjamin Godwin plot U A553, was concerned with the most basic of human rights: freedom As part of the Bradford Anti-slavery Committee, he helped to secure the 1833 Act that abolished slavery in the British Empire. At least one freed slave, Abraham Johnson, sought sanctuary here; the artist Sowden drew him as part of his Bradford Characters series. In 1848, Bradford Chartists marched in strength in the Manchester Road area of town in support of the rights of working people. The government sent in armed troops but there was no violence and the Chartists faded away.
Julia Varley plot U H372 was a Bradford Suffragette, who campaigned for equal voting rights for men and women (Universal Suffrage). She was one of the first female leaders of the trade union movement and supported strikers at Manningham Mills, protesting pay cuts in 1891. Although the strike was unsuccessful, it led to a new political party being created to represent the working class.

The Independent Labour Party (ILP) was formed as a national organisation in Bradford in 1893 with Keir Hardie as Chair. The ILP became the foundation stone of the Labour Party, formed in 1900.
Barbara Castle, who grew up here, was inspired by Keir Hardie and Bradford’s history of radical socialism, going on to be the youngest female MP in 1945. Later, as Transport Minister, she introduced the breathalyser, the 70mph speed limit, and the requirement to install seat belts in new cars, saving many lives.
1832 Bradford represented in Parliament for the first time by 2 Liberal MPs
1847 Bradford Corporation established
1893 ILP’s first national congress in Bradford
1897 City status granted
1928 Universal Suffrage
1945 Railways and coal mines nationalised
1974 West Riding became West Yorkshire; Ilkley, Keighley and other townships became part of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
1985 Mohammed Ajeeb became Bradford’s Lord Mayor, the first Asian to hold this role in the country
1995 & 2001 the Bradford Riots
2010 Bradford attained ‘City of Sanctuary’ status for providing a safe place for people escaping from persecution or danger.
2011 Naveeda Akram became the city’s first Asian woman Lord Mayor
2022 Bradford awarded 2025 City of Culture

Can you spot any other Bradford Radicals buried here?

Sporting Heroes
Buried here at Undercliffe Cemetery are Oates Ingham plot U F415 who was a founder member of Bradford Park Avenue Rugby Union – then football club and Alfred Ayrton plot CL167 was chair of Manningham Rugby Union, which then became Bradford City A.F.C,. with its West Yorkshire Regiment colours of claret and amber.

Our other sporting greats:
Dorothy Perkins, a 19-year-old shirt-maker from Great Horton, who swam from Calais to Dover in 20 hours 26 minutes in 1961. Jim Laker, born 1922, in Frizinghall. One of the greatest spin bowlers in cricketing history. Yvonne McGregor, from Wibsey, who won a Bronze cycling medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Joe Johnson born Bradford 1952, became the World Snooker Champion when he thrashed Steve Davis 18-12 in the 1986 final. Anita Lonsbrough attended St Joseph’s College. At the 1960 Rome Olympics she won Gold in the 200m breast stroke and was the first woman to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award in 1962. Leon Price captained the England rugby schools’ side. He played for Bradford Bulls and made his full début for England in 1999. Richard Dunn fought Muhammad Ali for the world heavy weight boxing title in 1976. He was beaten but was admired for his courage. At the time he lived by the Cemetery on Undercliffe Old Road. Heather Smith attended Hanson School and played rugby in the Premiership: a leading light in promoting the women’s game. Adrian Moorhouse, from Bingley, dominated British swimming in the 1980s, winning Gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul for the 100 metres breaststroke. Adil Rashid, from Bradford, got his first England Cricket Test Cap in 2015. Ann Daniels, from Allerton, became the first women to walk to both the North and South Poles in 2002. Ella Curtis a Baildon cyclist, won Gold at the Special Olympics World Games, Berlin 2023. John Hawkridge conquered the highest mountain in the world in 1988 – on walking sticks. Harvey Smith from Bingley, became a show-jumping champion, competing twice in the Olympics: 1968/Mexico City and 1972/Munich. David, Tony and Nick Jefferies; Dean Harrison and Ian Hutchinson (the Bingley Bullet): were all Isle of Man TT winners. Martin Lampkin and son Dougie; world trials champions. Fred Bonsor, Eric Wilkinson and JL Hickson all played for the same England Rugby Union team in 1886 and are buried here at Undercliffe Cemetery

TRAINS and BOATS and PLANES… Tech Trekking Through Time.
Bradford’s bred many technical thinkers who solved problems, with new machines and types of transport driving development in the Industrial Revolution. Innovations in services and opportunities in education followed, improving lives and life-chances
1774 Leeds-Liverpool Canal – Skipton to Shipley section opened Five-Rise Locks are steepest in England
1764 Spinning Jenny Invented After 1794 several were installed in Paper Hall, Barkerend
1790s Low Moor Ironworks began to make Steam Engines
1798 First Steam Engine in a Bradford textile mill: the dawn of mechanisation
1832 Bradford Mechanics ’Institute founded
1845 First Railway Line opened running from Bradford to Leeds
1845 Samuel Cunliffe Lister patented the Lister nip-comb
1847 Drinking Water piped into ordinary houses
1852 Bradford Cemetery Company provided a new burial ground at Undercliffe
1870 Education Act by W E Forster, Bradford MP, enabled elementary education for most children
1871 Gas Light Company bought by Bradford Corporation to expand the service
1882 Bradford Technical College established, partially financed by Henry Mitchell plot U F12
1889 Electric Trams
1889 First Municipal Electricity business in the country opened: generating station in Bolton Road
1897 Reuben Bramhall plot U H231 from Wyke made his first solo balloon flight from Peel Park
1897 Richard James Appleton plot U C90 projected film of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee on Bradford’s Argus building
1908 Alfred Angas Scott plot U D26 formed Scott Motorcycle Company, Shipley; his designs are the basis of 2-stroke engines
1910 Jowett Cars Idle, began production
1929 John Logie Baird’s first TV broadcast outside London received by Sydney Wright in Shipley
1936 Scar House Reservoir opened, biggest dam in Europe, instigated by Anthony Gadie plot C G181
1938 Edward Spurr’s boat, Empire Day, broke a world speed record
1930 Airport Land at Yeadon purchased by Bradford and Leeds Councils
1982 Pace Technology set up making computers and TV hardware
1983 National Science & Media Museum opened with the first IMAX screen
1966 University of Bradford created from the Technical College
1990 Dixons City Technology College opened, one of the first in the UK
The story continues: Bradford University archaeologists are using scanners at the Cemetery to create 3D techno-heritage, inspiring the next generation of Bradford innovators…

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