A couple of weeks ago I found myself driving on Hamm Strasse. It wouldn’t have been so surprising in 1991 when I visited North Rhine-Westphalia, staying with relatives of my ex-wife who were stationed near the city with the British Army, but this time I wasn’t in Germany, or even a Germanic country.
There is a part of Bradford that came to be known as Little Germany (in the same way that New York has Little Italy and San Francisco Little China). It’s the part where the warehouses of wealthy merchants were sited, close by the rail network and the city’s Wool Market.
Those warehouses were at their most active in the 19th Century, but after a period of neglect are once again of interest for their architectural splendour and so consequently are finding new life as apartments and offices. The buildings aren’t particularly Germanic in design (one is distinctly Scottish Baronial in its appearance), it was their occupants that gave the locale its name.
They were mostly European Jews and of these predominantly German which adds another twist to their choice of location, for grand as their commercial temples may be the area is dominated by the tower of Bradford Cathedral, which was once the only church in the city. The other building of note here is more secular.
How times change. A place once dominated by German Jewry is now one of the most important centres of the British Muslim population. What surprises might the future hold?
For me there were a couple more. Having spent way to long trying to get a shot of the pigeons roosting in one of the remaining derelicts, I abandoned the task and walked to the end of the road…