Trail from Undercliffe LaneTrail from Undercliffe Lane
Undercliffe Cemetery Trail

Trail from Undercliffe Lane

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.

Map of Undercliffe Cemetery showing the location of the proposed trail boards and the six listed monuments.

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