BRADFORD IN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
In the early 18th century Bradford was a small market town with a population of, perhaps, 4,000. However in the late 18th century Bradford was transformed by the industrial revolution.
The textile industry in the north of England boomed. The first bank in Bradford opened in 1771. Bradford canal was built in 1774 and in 1777 it was connected to the Leeds-Liverpool canal. The improvement in communications boosted industry in the town. In 1793 a Piece Hall was built were cloth could be bought and sold. After 1800 the hand loom weavers, who wove cloth in their own homes were replaced by mills in which machines were worked by steam engines.
Conditions in the dark, miserable mills in Bradford were dreadful. A 12 hour working day was common, even for young children. Overseers carried leather straps to hit children who were lazy or careless. However in the late 19th century conditions improved.
Working hours were reduced and mill owners were banned from employing very young children.
In the late 18th century and early 19th Bradford grew very rapidly. In 1780 it had a population of about 4,500. By 1801 it had more than 6,000 inhabitants. By 1851 the population of Bradford had reached an incredible 103,000. The huge rise in population was partly due to immigration from Germany and Ireland.
The very rapid growth of Bradford meant houses were built in a hiddley-piggledy fashion. There were no building regulations until 1854 and most working class housing was horrid. There were no sewers or drains and overcrowding was common. Worst of all were the cellar dwellings. Whole families lived in damp, poorly ventilated cellars. Often poor families had no furniture. They used wooden boxes as tables and slept on straw or rags.
However there were some...