“Thus Bradford is a city entirely without charm, though not altogether ugly, and its industrey is a black business; but it has the good fortune to be on the edge of some of the most enchanting country in England. A sharp walk of less than an hour from more than one tram terminus will bring you to the moors, wild virgin high land, and every mill and warehouse will be out of sight and the whole city forgotten.”
— English Journey
Some of the strongest memories of Bradford are those from when I was a teenager. My formative years were of a time when there was no email or mobile phone and if you were me, a total ban on using the landline, ever. For anything. I suspect that if there was an emergency requiring a phone call to 999, I would have to submit a full report afterwards justifying my use of the home phone to make a call. As such, my social life was pre-arranged using the note passing method in school and the ’15-minute rule’. This was arranging to meet at 10.30am outside HMV on a Saturday and if you weren’t there by 10.45 we didn’t wait. This was later superseded by a midday meet up on the Town Hall steps for skating in Leeds but this was pre-arranged the night before at a rock club called Rios. At the age of 13 we relied on buses turning up or the predictability of friends to go to the same places in the same order each week.
One of those places was the National Media Museum, then known as the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television, situated next door to the stunning Odeon building (which too is awaiting being saved and restored). Aside from an independent record store, there was little else for teenagers of Bradford to do on a weekend, let alone those who were considered a little ‘alternative’.
I had my first kiss in there, sheltered from the pummeling rain of which there was much, saw some mind-opening independent cinema at the Picturehouse, pretended to ride a flying carpet, rode a rollercoaster from the comfort and safety of a plastic seat and saw my first Imax film there. I take my son every available opportunity when we are in Yorkshire and he loves it. It is a wonderful museum and something Bradford really needs.
Bill Bryson is a fan in ‘Notes From A Small Island’:
“The Museum of Film, Photography, Imax Cinema and Something Else (I can never remember the exact name) has brought a welcome flicker of light to a corner of the city… which I admire partly because it is free and partly because I think it is deeply commendable to put these institutions in the provinces.”
He may have also said this, which caused great hilarity for a group of English A-Level students taking exams in Bradford:
“Bradford’s role in life is to make every place else in the world look better in comparison, and it does this very well.”
There isn’t much for teenagers in Bradford and I kind of got the feeling that unless you were exceptional, there wasn’t much expected from you either. The museum does more than provide shelter for bored teenagers trying to stay out of trouble, it is a place of education and art, of which there is very little outside of London and its mass of museums and galleries. People in the North like culture too and places as great as this need saving.
So if you read this and are moved to do something to save access to education, science and culture in the North of England, please sign this petition and give the museum a visit next time you pass by: