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Though Bradford received a charter as early as 1251, it remained a cloth town of local importance. During the 17th cent. it lost ground. Celia Fiennes in the 1690s did not mention it and Defoe in the 1720s ignored it, though he devoted a long description to Leeds. Its revival was due to the development of the worsted trade and the growth of the canal network. Bradford canal, completed in 1774, and the link to the Leeds and Liverpool canal (1777), gave access to the east and west coasts. By the early decades of the 19th cent., Bradford had begun its prodigious growth. By 1851 it was the seventh largest town in the country, with a population of well over 100,000. From 1846 onwards it was also joined to the rapidly growing railway system. In the 20th cent. Bradford was less well served. It suffered comparatively little from the attentions of the Luftwaffe but severely at the hands of post‐war town planners. Many evocations of Edwardian Bradford, when wool was still king, are to be found in the works of J. B. Priestley, particularly Bright Day, a threnody for ‘Bruddersford’ trams.

Subjects: Literature

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