Bradford's Industrial Revolution
Bradford's Urban Housing
In the early 19th Century, houses were built rapidly, and in huge numbers, for the thousands of people who flocked into Bradford to find work in the mills. Most of these workers' houses were back-to-backs - terraced houses, one room deep, backing directly onto an identical row behind.
These houses were usually cheaply built, cold, damp and unsanitary. They were crammed onto small plots, and set around courtyards or muddy backstreets with no proper drainage or sewers . There were problems of overcrowding which resulted in slums, pollution and disease.
In 1860 the town council tried to prevent the building of back-to-backs, but there was fierce opposition and the ban was lifted. However, new houses had to stick to strict new building regulations imposed by a bye-law of 1865. For instance, there must be a passageway between houses to provide ventilation and make refuse removal easier. Each house should have proper drains and a lavatory (albeit outdoors in the back yard). Streets had to be wide and open ended - no more closed courts.
At Bradford Industrial Museum you can visit two different types of Victorian house which contrast the lifestyles of a Mill Manager and his workers. Moorside House was built in 1875, at the same time as Moorside Mill, for the mill manager's family.
You can also visit a street of back-to-back houses. Gaythorne Row was built originally in Great Horton in 1872-73 and was relocated to the museum site in the 1980s. Gaythorne Row offers schools a great opportunity for comparing and contrasting the living conditions of the working classes in the Victorian period, the 1920s and the 1950s.
More information about the housing and its changes can be found in the worksheets section titled 'Housing - Creating the urban landscape'. There are additional pages on housing in the 1870s, 1940s and 1950s in the worksheet section (see link below).
Map view of Great Horton area, Bradford»