We like to provoke a bit of healthy debate here at Bradford Civic Society, and we recently posed the question on Twitter about whether Bradfordians would ever like to see the rather grand statue of Sir Titus Salt brought back from its current home in Lister Park to its former home near the more central City Hall.
There was a good deal of initial enthusiasm for bringing him back to the city centre, but also a question about why it was shifted in the first place.
Alan Hall, Vice Chair of Bradford Civic Society and author of The Story of Bradford, tells us, “The statue was unveiled in front of the Town Hall in 1874, just a year after the Town Hall itself was formerly opened. It’s no surprise that the Corporation would have wanted to stick a statue of Salt – Bradford’s most famous former mayor – in front of the new building. Salt was still alive when the statue was unveiled, and it remains somewhat unusual for a statue to commemorate someone who is actually still living.
The most likely reason for its eventual move to Lister Park was the need to put traffic first.
One of our Twitter correspondents has offered the reason as being the widening of the space in front of the (then) Town Hall for tram traffic, which was certainly something town planners gradually pursued over generations – taking it from a narrow street in the 1800s to the vast civic space we know today.
Over on Facebook, we’re grateful to one of our followers for digging out an 1889 article from the Shipley Times, which reports on a Town Council meeting where Alderman describe the “disgraceful” condition of the statue, with tram engines obscuring the structure. It’s interesting to note their idea for moving it to a “beautiful site” in front of the Unitarian Chapel, a site we now know as City Park. Other articles also refer to Salt’s statue becoming little more than a polluted “traffic circus” and there was a suggestion to close it up with plate glass at one point.
We’re interested to hear what people think about the idea of relocating one of Bradford’s most iconic statues. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time such a suggestion has been mooted, although back in 2003 there was a proposal to send him a few miles in the other direction – back to Saltaire!
Clipping from the British Newspaper Archive.