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Friday, 28 January 2011

The Odeon and other buildings at risk in Bradford

Bradford has some of the most beautiful Victorian and early 20th Century architecture in Britain, but the city council seems to lack the will power to rescue its heritage from destruction. The story of the decline of the once magnificent Odeon is well known, and the fight to preserve it is documented in 'A Just Church' and other books on Bradford. Sadly, there are plenty more stories of buildings at risk in our city.

The majestic mills and offices on the corner of Listerhills Road and Smith Street will soon be lost. As will what remains of the West Bowling Chapel, Chain Street social housing and Wapping Road School (made famous by Margaret McMillan, for free school meals and the UK's first local authority school swimming pool). Already in the last few months we have seen the disgraceful destruction of half of the historic St Luke's Hospital (to make way for a car park), a terrible loss to the city which the council did not even bother to contest.

With public sector cuts, local authorities will put even less priority into defending our heritage, so it will be up to us to make it harder for the private sector to simply demolish our cultural environment. Occupations and old fashioned lobbying will have to increase or we will see more mills, churches, schools, libraries bulldozed.

Let me know of other buildings at risk in Bradford, with thoughts on how to save them.

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