Cartwright Memorial Hall and the Great Bradford Exhibition of 1904

Anne Bishop

(First published in 1989 in volume 4, pp. 26-38, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)

One day in the spring of 1898 an ageing Lord Masham paid a visit to Manningham Park, the estate which Bradford Corporation had purchased from him in 1870 at half real value. He was shocked to see the hall which had been his home from boyhood to early married life now in a shabby and dilapidated condition, being used as a second-class restaurant. The scene so disturbed him that in May he wrote to Thomas Speight, the Mayor, asking for an hour's conversation with him.1 When this took place Lord Masham said he would like to do something for Bradford, and suggested that the old Manningham Hall be demolished and replaced by a permanent memorial to Dr Edmund Cartwright, the man to whom he and Bradford owed so much. During lunch with the Mayor and a few friends Lord Masham offered a gift of £40,000 (the sum paid by the Corporation for Manningham Park) towards the cost.

The Corporation accepted the offer most readily and proposed that the new hall should take the form of a technological museum. This would have been a most fitting tribute to Cartwright, who, by inventing the power loom and the combing machine had played such a large part in Bradford's rise to fame and prosperity; but the Technical College, which opened in 1882, seemed a more appropriate place for exhibitions of a scientific nature. Instead, a proposal was made to erect an Art Gallery and Natural History Museum with reception rooms for municipal functions. There was already an Art Gallery and Museum of sorts in Darley Street, but this was quite unworthy of a thriving City like Bradford. Lord Masham did not delay: as soon as he had approved the new scheme he sent off his promised donation to the Mayor

The Building

Cartwright Hall

For many years public bodies had favoured competition as a means of getting the best design for important buildings. In 1869 a national competition for the proposed Bradford Town Hall produced 32 entries the winning architects being the town's own firm of Lockwood & Mawson, who had also designed St George's Hall, Saltaire and the Wool Exchange. For the Cartwright Memorial a similar competition resulted in a total of 117 entries, which were judged by Alfred Waterhouse R.A., the renowned architect who designed the Prudential Building at the corner of Sunbridge Road and Tyrrel Street. He chose a design submitted by John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen of London, a decision which, as it turned out, went against Bradford's usual practice of employing local firms. Soon after this Mr Allen left the partnership, although his name appears on the foundation tablet along with that of Mr Simpson, who then became sole architect. Mr Simpson clearly set out to impress, and after the opening ceremony admitted that he had gone one better than anything he had ever done before, a considerable claim, since he and his partner had just completed the Glasgow Art Galleries, which was at much larger commission.2

The style of the building has been described as 'Classical Renaissance', or 'Baroque ('effusive neo-Baroque', according to Pevsner), and although the hall was said to be the result of Mr Simpson's French studies, a man 'thinking imperially in stone and marble', it was a democratic palace,3 for the use and benefit of the people who had helped to make fortunes for Samuel Cunliffe Lister and others. Text-book terms would mean little to homely Bradfordians who were content simply to marvel at the new creation They would not spend much time deciphering the heraldic shields which decorated the eight pediments: City of Bradford and Lord Masham; Bolling and Richardson; Mountgarret and Tempest of Tong, and Sharp and de Lacy, nor would they be likely to join Councillor Hayhurst in deploring 'the perpetuation of ancient customs' represented by the feudal and territorial nature of the coats of arms.4

John Ayers says that almost all the characteristics of Baroque style can be seen in the central entrance porch, with the intricate cupola above it;5 and the prospect is enhanced if we look at the building, framed by the beautiful gates in North Park Road, which were made to commemorate the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales and, like the main gates, were part of the architect's plan. Eyes would certainly be drawn to the four large figures on the cupola, or central tower, with their emblems: Spinning (distaff); Commerce (ship); Fortitude (sword) - very much like Joan of Arc - and Abundance (horn).

Among all the ancient grandeur, both inside and out, it is pleasing to know that the decorative sculpture was the work of a local man, Mr A. Broadbent of Shipley, who studied at an art school in Lambeth. In a speech after the opening ceremony Mr Simpson drew particular attention to the beautiful work of the sculptor, saying they need not hesitate to compare it with any other of its kind in the world, whether at home or abroad.6

Those who marvelled at the elegant exterior were not likely to be disappointed as they made their way up the entrance stairs into the Sculpture Hall, paved in a check of black Belgian and white Sicilian marble, and supported by graceful columns. Although electric lighting had been installed, the Sculpture Hall was open to the domed glass roof, so that during the day artificial light was not normally required. The broad staircases were very much admired, since those who c1imbed them could still hold the statuary in view. The centrepiece of this collection was meant to be the seated figure of Edmund Cartwright, carved in white marble on a pedestal of green, but instead it was placed in its present position on the first floor, where the Mayor received his guests. The proposal for a statue was the result of a resolution passed by the Memorial Committee on 16 March 1900, which said:
"In view of Lord Masham's evident desire that Cartwright should be recognised by the city it was agreed that a statue or other suitable memorial shall be placed in the Memorial Hall."7

The commission for the statue, which won a Royal Academy Award, was given to Henry Charles Fehr for a fee of 'not more than £1,000'. The sculptor also presented the organisers with a bust of Lord Masham which is still displayed in the hall.

Dr Cartwright is shown in his academic gown, but he appears as both clergyman and inventor, looking down at what may be a set of plans on his knee. The rooms on either side of the statue, the Mayor's Parlour and an area for guests, led into the large east and west Art Galleries, a special feature of which was the wall covering of terra cotta silk tapestry woven at Lister's own mill. The provision of amenities for municipal functions, a most important part of the plan, included a kitchen equipped with every modern device, where food for the public refreshment room was also prepared.

The foundation stone was laid by Lord Masham on 24 May 1900, but this occasion was the beginning of a four-year struggle against the elements, workmen's strikes and other delays. In the following July a storm brought the most violent rainfall ever recorded in Bradford. This flooded the foundations, causing the sides to cave in and leaving a deposit of silt over everything. It was then discovered that the subsoil was unsuitable for a building such as Cartwright Hall 'of utmost solidity and massive strength', so the foundations were dug twenty feet deeper, at an extra cost of £1,500.8 The greatest setbacks however, were caused by strikes, as a result of which work stopped for nearly a year. The joiners were out for sixteen months, the masons for ten, and when the plasterers, who seemed to be reluctant to do any work at all, returned, the building had been almost completed by non-union labour. Delay was also caused by the difficulty in getting the very large stones, some weighing three or four tons, for the lower levels. The absence of even one stone could hold up work for several months. This meant that the official opening, first expected in 1902, was deferred again and again. Even when completion was near, late delivery of the large girders to support the dome caused the postponement of the promised opening in the autumn of l903. Lord Masham, then in his 89th year, still kept an eye on things by visiting the site on many occasions. He was becoming impatient because, as he said, he 'might not be able to weather many more winters'.9

The hall was built of local sandstone, mainly from Idle, but supplies came from over twenty other quarries. The masons' work was particularly demanding because some of the stones, especially the large ones, had to be cut to exact measurements according to the architect's plans. The great stone that used to form the engine bed at Lister's old mill was presented by Lord Masham and cut into four pieces to serve as corner stones of the foundation. This was surely symbolic: the Cartwright Memorial Hall, founded on the prosperity of Manningham Mills.

Because of the Boer War, building costs were rising rapidly and it soon became clear that the final account for Cartwright Hall would be far more than £40,000. Lord Masham suggested, therefore, that the architect be asked if his plans could be modified so as to reduce the cost without spoiling the design, and at the same time he offered to defray half the expenditure above £40,000. The Memorial Committee then agreed to ask the Council to meet half the extra cost from its gas profits. Mr Simpson refused to alter the plans and Lord Masham, without more ado, kept his promise by transferring £7,500 to the credit of the Council.10 Lord Masham's belief that the whole body of Bradford citizens might wish to join him in recognising the immense value of Cartwright's work brought the following rather sly comment from the Yorkshire Daily Observer.
"With this purpose he has chosen to allow some portion of the cost of the building to be borne by public funds, and the ratepayers of Bradford, for their part, will doubtless be willing and happy to have that share in the work."

The opening ceremony

The opening of the Hall (as opposed to the opening of the Exhibition) was performed by Lord Masham on 13 April 1904. The preparations were impressive. He made his way from Bradford, accompanied by the Mayor and Corporation and many of the leading gentry of the area, to Lister Park, where the entrance and his own statue had been lavishly decorated for the occasion. In spite of heavy rain, large crowds had gathered along the route to cheer as the carriages passed. Unfortunately, when the distinguished party arrived at Cartwright Hall the formal opening was marred by one of those incidents that every master of ceremonies fears, 'akin to the painful difficulties which arise when the bridegroom forgets the wedding ring' - the key specially designed by the architect for the occasion was missing.11 However, 'contingency plans' had been made, and a much plainer but much more serviceable key was produced to enable the ceremony to go ahead, after which Lord Masham was entertained to lunch at the Great Northern Hotel (The Victoria). Over two hundred guests were present - all men! - and after a great deal of food and drink many speeches were made. In replying to the toast 'The Health of Lord Masham' the speaker dwelt at length on inventions, picturing the Cartwright Hall as 'the place where the Asiatic of the future might come in search of the inventor of the power loom'. At one point his remarks were amazingly prophetic. He said jokingly,
"I have a very strong impression that the East will overcome the West in the coming years and that instead of our clothing the East they will want to clothe us."12

At the end of his speech Lord Masham left, rather overcome by emotion.

The health of the Mayor was proposed by Mr George Cartwright, a great-great- grandson of the inventor, who later presented to the Memorial Hall mementoes consisting of several medals awarded to Dr Cartwright for his inventions; a letter in his own handwriting; a miniature with a lock of his hair; a display cabinet to keep them all in, and an original portrait.

In 1902, while Cartwright Hall was still being built, the Corporation made plans to hold an exhibition to coincide with the opening of the hall. It was meant to be the greatest exhibition ever held on this side of the Atlantic. A committee was set up under the chairmanship, first, of Mr W.C. Lupton, a former Mayor, and next under that of Alderman J.S. Toothill. They decided that the exhibition was to be in three sections, an Art Exhibition in the hall itself, an Industrial Exhibition in a purpose-built temporary hall, and musical and other entertainments in a concert hall. In the open air all kinds of activities were to take place, with plenty of side-shows to provide diversions and bring in much needed funds.

The Art Gallery

As the Memorial Hall was meant to hold Bradford's main public collection of art treasures, the opening exhibition had a high priority among the arrangements. To organise the Art Exhibition a committee of well-known local people was formed, among whom were Bradford born Mr (later Sir) William Rothenstein, already a distinguished artist, and Mr F. Behrens, son of Sir Jacob Behrens. The exhibition secretary, however, a stranger in Bradford circles, was a promising young writer and art enthusiast called John Masefield, who owed his appointment to success in a similar capacity at Wolverhampton in 1902, helped, no doubt, by the recommendation of his friend, William Rothenstein.

Masefield had been destined to life at sea from childhood, but after early training on HMS Conway, he was taken ill on his first voyage and sent home to Liverpool. When he recovered he sailed to New York to join another ship, which he deserted before it left port, and as a result found himself, at sixteen, alone and destitute in a strange city. Accompanied by another down-and-out he led the life of a vagrant until he found a job in a bar, and then more permanent work in a carpet factory in Yonkers. This kind of employment was uncongenial to him, however, and after two years he returned to Liverpool in poor health, without means of support, but determined, at all costs, to become a writer.

His aim was to subsist until he had built up a small literary reputation. Meanwhile commissions, such as book reviewing, were soon coming in, and Masefield, a pleasant, likeable young man, was not shy about making himself known to established writers like Binyon and Yeats. Through his interest in art, especially modern works, he struck up a friendship with Rothenstein, who, along with Binyon, encouraged him to apply for a secretarial post at the Wolverhampton trade exhibition of 1902, which he obtained and entered into with great dedication. His task, to organise the art gallery, involved the writing of many letters - 1,500 in all - conducting dozens of interviews and producing a catalogue.13

The exhibition was due to close in October, but by July, Masefield's enthusiasm had been replaced by disillusionment and bitterness. He said many unkind things about Wolverhampton, that 'soul-crushing abortion of a misbegotten city', but in spite of all, he left with a heightened reputation. The art gallery had been a great success and this, as we have said, helped to gain him the Bradford appointment, which he took up in 1903. He was then twenty-five, living in London and about to be married.

The committee decided that the exhibition should consist of English paintings from Hogarth onwards, following the pattern established at Wolverhampton, without giving preference to any special artist or school. Masefield went about the task in his usual energetic way, writing letters and arranging appointments in the hope of getting together 'a splendid selection'. In this he was generally successful, persuading other galleries and some individuals to lend pictures - Turners, a Reynolds and a Gainsborough amongst them, but he did not succeed in borrowing any of the King's collection. Insurance was a major expense, but a value of £750,000 which was set upon the exhibits seems a paltry sum by modern standards. On this occasion the paintings were on the first floor, the ground floor being used for furniture, metalwork, Oriental art and porcelain.

In The Jackdaw, a short-lived, gossipy periodical, which was published at about the time of the exhibition, a writer commented:
"for every four people who pay 6d to see black men in the Somali village or brown babies in the incubator, only one will go into the free exhibition of pictures."14

He then went on to point out that the pictures were the Bradford Exhibition, and that if there were no art gallery to open there would be no other entertainments. Serious comment of the latter kind, however, was interspersed with bouts of clod-hopping humour, so he then complained that the pictures were slung up with 'old galluses' purchased from the Board of Guardians and the Salvation Army Shelter.

Masefield earned special praise for the collection of modern paintings at Wolverhampton, but the Bradford public were not impressed by the Impressionists and made their disapproval known. As a result, he was glad to get away to London at the end of the first 'abominable week'. Of course, we must not read too much into this because Masefield had other interests at heart: his wife was expecting her first child and, as ever, literary commitments made enormous demands upon his time. Necessity was always driving him on, and in May 1904 we find him writing to Alderman Toothill for a testimonial in support of an application for the curatorship of Newcastle Art Gallery, and suggesting that the merits of the Bradford Exhibition might be mentioned.

The Bradford Exhibition

Plan of the exhibition grounds

Exhibitions such as this, which stemmed from the Great Exhibition of 1851, were not without precedent in Bradford. For example, there had been an exhibition to mark the opening of the Mechanics' Institute, Tyrrel Street, in 1873, and in 1882 for the opening of the Technical College. Other towns had had similar exhibitions: Glasgow in 1901, which had been a great financial success, and Wolverhampton in 1902, which had not. Besides celebrating the opening of the Memorial Hall there was the additional aim of promoting Bradford trade and industry. The great peak of Bradford's textile prosperity had passed, and there were already signs the decline had begun. The intention now was to show that Bradford's textile goods were still among the best in the world and at the same time to remind visitors that the city had other strings to its bow.

The plan was on a large scale: twenty-three acres, about two-thirds of the area of the park, was to be enclosed by an unclimbable fence, ten feet high. An Industrial Hall, three hundred feet long and about a hundred and eighty feet wide, made of corrugated iron and wood, with six transepts was to be built. The textile industry was to occupy the main hall, with demonstrations of every process of manufacture up to the finished garment. It was arranged that the centrepiece of this section should be a Dress Show put on by ten leading firms, all household names, such as Drummond's, John Foster's, A & S Henry's, and, of course, Titus Salt's. The Bradford Dyers' Association were also to have a stand where they were to show linings. It was in a sense a competitive show, the aim being 'to keep Bradford's name to the front'.

At the International Exhibition held in Paris in 1900 Bradford textile goods had been badly displayed in comparison with those of their continental rivals, who had used 'imaginatively made-up models' instead of simply laying out their cloth in lengths. In order to make sure that this mistake would not be repeated, the Memorial Committee issued an instruction to the effect that dresses were to be displayed on models.
"representing Ladies, Gentlemen and Children under various conditions and including Morning, Evening, Dinner and Ball costumes to be artistically grouped in cases on the main portion of the central aisle of the Industrial Hall."15

This must have had some effect because it was reported that the exhibits of Bradford materials were the first objective of feminine visitors. The Princess of Wales, when she opened the Exhibition, was presented with the Pratts' cabinet of dress stuffs, and it was also said that she had ordered material from Bradford, from which at least part of her wardrobe would be made.

Other industries were to be accommodated in the wings: mining, locomotion, engineering, machinery, sanitation, recreation and science - which was also classified as an industry. The Mayoress was placed in charge of a special section devoted to women's work, in which there were three categories: art and craft, domestic exhibits and education. A kitchen was also to be provided for cookery demonstrations, while at one end of the hall there were plans for a tea room and at the other for a bar and lounge.

When it was finished the hall contained a hundred and forty-five individual displays. There were many famous names in the non-textile sections, such as Christopher Pratt and Fattorini & Sons, while national firms were represented by Chivers, Brown and Polson, Jones's Sewing Machines, Cumberland Pencils, Cadbury's, and Pilkington's, renowned for their glass. The Bradford Corporation Gas and Electricity Companies also showed their wares.

The exhibitors paid 2/6d. a square foot for space in the hall, and were also charged for the gas and electricity they used. At one point they complained that the charges were far too high and refused to pay, but there is no record of how the dispute was settled. A business manager, Mr W.H. Knight, had been appointed to deal with all such matters and a great deal of his correspondence survives.16 Much of it consists of requests for information and complaints, the latter from school parties, for example, who had not been granted lower entrance fees. One of the oddest requests for spaces was from a palmist.

The concert hall contained a fine organ, built by Walker & Sons of London, on which recitals were given daily. After the exhibition it was dismantled and rebuilt in a London Roman Catholic Church. Entertainment was a1so provided by 'The Blue Hungarian Band', a Ladies' Orchestra, the Eastbrook Choir, the Bradford Festival and Old Choral Societies, and the Crosland Moor Handbell Ringers. Choirs from Bradford schools, some with as many as four hundred singers, also made their voices heard. Other forms of entertainment included conjuring and 'animated pictures'. £8,000 was allocated for the engagement of a good military band every week, and the best bands came, among them the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards and the Life Guards. Local pride and good playing were upheld by the Black Dyke Mills Band, who were listed with 'the best'. Other bands played on Saturday mornings, and there was a contest for local bands in June.

A Model Hospital was built to demonstrate nursing skills and this also contained a nursery, where visitors could leave their charges. Special interest was aroused by a Baby Incubator, which was used to demonstrate how the lives of premature babies could be saved by the latest scientific methods, a very important innovation in days of high infant mortality.

Among the already existing amenities was the lake, created soon after the park was purchased in 1870 from Samuel Cunliffe Lister, as part of a scheme to provide work for the unemployed. It was now enhanced by a rustic bridge which greatly shortened distances. At busy times a policeman was placed at each end to control the traffic. The ceremonial opening of the Exhibition was performed on 4 May 1904 by the Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King George V and Queen Mary), who were in residence at Harewood House. They travelled by train from Arthington to Bradford, where they were greeted by huge crowds who lined the route to Lister Park. At Cartwright Hall they were welcomed by the Mayor, after which the Prince unveiled a tablet on the right of the entrance stairs and declared open the Art and Industrial Exhibitions. The Princess then opened the Exhibition buildings with a golden key. After touring the Exhibition the Royal Party left for Victoria Square, where the Prince unveiled Alfred Drury's statue of the late Queen. The visit ended with a banquet at St George's Hall. Two days later the Prince and Princess returned to pay a private visit to Lister's Mill.

An official report was prepared by the business manager, Mr Knight, for presentation to the Exhibition Committee and printed for public circulation.17 This records that all the exhibits and attractions were ready for the opening day, a fact which was evidently worth mentioning as something remarkable then as it would be now. The weather was also remarkable: May 4th was a fine day, for which the organisers of the royal procession, together with those who had festooned the long route, must have given heartfelt thanks. Mr Knight must have been gratified, too, by an attendance of 29,000.

The Exhibition lasted all summer and into the autumn, closing on 29 October. The report contains details of receipts: 21,640 season tickets were sold at 10/6d each (half-price after August), and there were other concessions, such as weekly tickets, and a 'package deal' of entrance tickets with railway excursion fares, of which over 17,000 were sold. By this means visitors were attracted from Morecambe and other Lancashire towns as well as from all parts of Yorkshire and further afield. On 20 July the millionth visitor, a farmer from the Dales, was presented with a medallion, and the two-millionth visitor, Thomas Lee of Otley Road, received a gold watch and chain.18 The total attendance was 2,417,928

The most popular days were Wednesday and Saturday, with a record attendance of 64,847 on the last day. The Exhibition was closed on Sundays. Total income from ticket sales amounted to £41,828 and with money raised from sale of some of the buildings the final profit was £14,965. This does not seem much reward for all the effort made but expenses were heavy, and in view of all the hazards, any profit must have been received with relief. Half the money went to the Libraries, Museums and Art Galleries Fund, chiefly towards the cost of buying a permanent art collection, and half to the Gas Company, which had made up the deficit on the original estimates.

There is little evidence to show that the Industrial Exhibition brought more business to Bradford, but short-term benefits must have accrued. The car-a-minute service along Manningham Lane increased the revenue of the Tramways Department and railway excursions were well patronised. There was work for many hands in the park itself, and shops, restaurants and public houses could not have failed to increase their turnover. The Royal Hotel, Darley Street (Telephone 1556), offered a six-course Royal Luncheon at two shillings. It was, as the advertisement in the Official Programme said, 'First Class, fully licensed and lighted throughout by electricity', with reading, smoking and billiard rooms.

The Exhibition Manager's Report and accounts in the Press all pay far more attention to the sideshows and entertainments (which according to the stated aims of the Exhibition were peripheral) than to what may be called 'serious things'. The evidence from similar exhibitions, however, showed that profits could only be expected from popular entertainments like those at Bradford, many of which were striking and original. Accurate records of attendances and entrance charges were kept and these show that the entertainments attracted many visitors.

The main attraction was certainly the Somali village, although this showpiece was only engaged when the visit of an Ashanti village, which had appeared at other exhibitions, was cancelled by its managers at short notice. There were about a hundred Somalis, with their chief, and they included, according to the Yorkshire Daily Observer, 'remarkably beautiful girls'. They arrived before the Exhibition opened, built their own huts and lived in them in the public gaze until the end, giving throughout this time daily demonstrations of dancing, spear throwing and arrow shooting. The official report says, 'they maintained their attractive character throughout, and under the trying conditions of the Yorkshire climate behaved in a most creditable manner'. The 'villagers', who came on from Marseilles, were paying their first visit to England, where they spent much of their time huddled round oil stoves. In August one of their huts was destroyed by fire, and in September one of the women died and was buried in Scholemoor Cemetery. There were, of course, less solemn moments, when the Somali children defeated a ladies' cricket team, for instance, and when
"On 13th September a daughter was born to the head of the Somalis, the Sultan Ali and his wife, Fatima, She was called Hadija Yorkshire and in honour of the occasion a salute of 17 guns was fired from 'Port Arthur' by Lieutenant Lot Morgan."19

The Jackdaw displayed its odd sense of humour when, in an earlier notice about the confinement, it said, 'Owing to the delicate state of health of the Sultana Fatima … The Bombardment of Port Arthur will be suppressed'.

The next most popular attraction was the Water Chute from Canada, which had also been a feature of the Wolverhampton Exhibition in 1902. It was built on the edge of the lake, and under its structure there were twenty small shops representing Old Bradford, where souvenirs could be obtained. Although the exhibition was felt to have been an enormous success, there are indications that the original high expectations were not entirely fulfilled; yet Victor Bamberger the general impresario responsible for the Somali Village and the Water Chute was offered 15 per cent on gross takings at the latter entertainment up to £2,000, and 30 per cent beyond that amount. As total receipts on the Chute amounted to £3,390 he must have been reasonably satisfied with his reward - a little over £700. An unusual show was the Palace of Illusions, which had been seen at other exhibitions, including the Paris Exhibition of 1900. It consisted of
"a many-sided chamber with mirrored walls and Gothic arches stretching on either hand, apparently for miles. The lights would dim, and then suddenly there would be simultaneous illumination of brilliant electric lights on each pillar, which would give the illusion of thousands of lights. Then would follow a mystifying dance by a beautiful lady artiste, which, reflected in hundreds of mirrors, would give the impression of a large ballet."20

There was also a Crystal Maze caused by distorting mirrors, a Gravity Railway and The Gigantic Glittering Thimble, 9 feet 6 inches high, 'the world's largest', made by Christopher Buckton of Lightcliffe, which all were urged to see, on Stand 67.

It was intended to have a captive balloon, giving those brave members of the public who ascended a bird's eye view of Bradford. Unfortunately, rain and strong winds limited the appeal of this attraction and in the end the discouraged 'aeronaut', Mr Bramhall, had to be content with making one ascent each week. Mr Cody ('Buffalo Bill') appeared for a fortnight with his man-lifting kite, surely the forerunner of hang-gliding. One flier came down to earth in a garden at Shipley, but there were no disasters. Firework displays were given on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, by way of reassurance perhaps, there were Fire Brigade displays as well.

Among all the activity on the lake, one special event stood out, a display in which boats representing the Russian and Japanese fleets engaged in mock battle. This, of course, was a light-hearted reminder of the very real combat taking place between the two nations at that very time. There were also trips to be had on a Venetian gondola and on several launches, as well as boats for hire. Physical recreation of all kinds was much in evidence. Regular cricket and football matches were arranged between teams got up from the exhibitors, and there were swimming carnivals, Swedish drill displays and target practice on a rifle range. A dog show brought in almost a thousand entries.

There was an obvious attempt to give the Exhibition an international look, and the Bradford Daily Telegraph allowed itself to be quite carried away.
"Looking from the bridge over the island one was apt to forget that it is Manningham Park and to imagine that it was some great Venetian carnival, while the illusion was heightened by the gondolas plying swiftly and silently on lake. Approaching the Concert Hall was a perfect avenue of lanterns: it was almost like a Japanese Feast of Lanterns … No fewer than 5,000 fairy lamps and 5,000 Chinese lanterns are employed in the illumination of the grounds."21

After the Exhibition

In one respect the plan of the memorial to Dr Cartwright was never completed. According to the terms of the competition, architects had to submit designs for the grounds adjacent to the hall, and Mr Simpson intended to construct an elaborate classical bandstand in front of the hall where there are flower beds now. The whole of the land lying between the hall and the statue of Sir Titus Salt was to be set out for the purposes of the band, the position of the hall being adjusted so that the statue and the bandstand were in line with the central axis of the building.22 At that time the Salt statue which had been removed from Market Street, stood near the Victor Road entrance to the park, alongside the carriage drive to the old hall. But delay in approving the final plans, rising costs, and fear that the new arrangements would cause congestion at busy times, were all factors that led to the postponement of Mr Simpson's scheme and then to its abandonment. However, the revised layout, consisting of drives, carriageways and flower beds, has always provided a much admired setting for the hall.

There is little in Lister Park to remind us of the 1904 Exhibition, but the levelled site of the Industrial Hall, now used as bowling greens, does at least give an idea of the size of the building; and the balustrade that stood in front of the hall is still there. The bridge across the lake remained until about 1930, but was then demolished because it was unsafe. The boathouse and the refreshment chalet, which was close to the present children's playground, both survived until the 1960s, when the chalet was destroyed by fire. Many people will remember the Roller Skating Rink on Manningham Lane, without perhaps knowing that it was formerly the Concert Hall, which, like the rest of the temporary buildings, had been sold by auction at the close of the Exhibition.

Countless souvenirs of all kinds were sold during that summer of 1904, including thousands of postcards, most of which were produced locally, and many Bradford families, whether they are aware of it or not, may still have among their treasures a memento of Bradford's greatest exhibition.

The Lister Statue

Towards the end of 1870 it was decided to erect a statue of Samuel Cunliffe Lister (who became Baron Masham of Swinton in 1898) in the grounds of the park which the Corporation had recently purchased from him. The commission was given to Matthew Noble, a Yorkshire sculptor, for a fee of £1,000, which was defrayed by public subscription. The statue, which stands near the main entrance gates, was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. W.E. Forster MP on 15 May 1875.

Attention in recent years has focussed upon the bas-reliefs around the plinth, because one of them depicting a Nip Comb is known to have been replaced by a relief showing a Square Motion Comb. John Iredale suggests that the change may have been prompted by Lister's wish to establish himself as the author of the latter invention, a claim which had been long and angrily disputed by his former partner and rival inventor, Isaac Holden.23 The bitter public wrangle ended in 1886, when Sir Isaac, as he then was, allowed his case to rest without making any concessions. The new panel was probably inserted sometime between 1897, the time of his death, and 1904, when Cartwright Hall was opened. Lord Masham's rather late recognition of Dr Cartwright as the originator of mechanical combing may have been his way of attempting to lessen the effects of the controversy.


1. J. Parker, Illustrated Rambles from Hipperholme to Tong, 1904 p xii

(It seems odd that a ramble from Hipperholme to Tong should begin at Lister Park, but the Preface explains that publication was delayed on purpose to include an account of the opening of Cartwright Hall, a history of the Lister family, and also the opening of the Exhibition. As the first storage reservoir for Bradford in the Nidd Valley was opened in July 1904 the author also gives a historical account of Bradford Waterworks) (back)

2. Cartwright Hall - A guide to the building and its architecture (CH) 1987, p.3 (back)

3. Yorkshire Daily Observer 13.4.1904 p.33 (back)

4. CH, p.10 (back)

5. J. Ayers, Architecture in Bradford 1972 p.90 (back)

6. Parker, op. cit., px.i (back)

7. Cartwright Memorial Committee Minute Book (MB) West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS) Bradford, BBD/1/48, 1.8.1900 (back)

8. Cartwright Memorial Hall Competition - Replies to queries from Architects, 1903. In reply to the questions, What is the nature of the soil? Will the foundation be required extra deep owing to bad ground? the answers were, 'Clay subsoil'. 'It is not expected that extra foundation will be required' WYAS, BBD/1/48 (back)

9. MB, 29.9.1902 (back)

10. MB 19.4.1900 (back)

11. A picture postcard bearing a photograph of the occasion was produced with the caption 'PRESENTATION OF THE GOLD KEY WHERE IS IT?' The Jackdaw made the most of it, under the heading, 'The Lost Key - Nocturne in B-flat (21.4.1904, p.4) (back)

12. Parker, op. cit., p.viii (back)

13. Constance B. Smith, John Masefield - A Life, 1978, p.69 (back)

14. The Jackdaw, 21.7.1904 p.7 (back)

15. MB, 27.11.1902 (back)

16. WYAS, BBD/1/48 (back)

17. Ibid. (back)

18. CH, p.19 (back)

19. Ibid. (back)

20. WYAS, BBD/1/48 (back)

21. CH, p.18. (back)

22. Cartwright Memorial Hall: Notes on the Competition, May 1899 Bradford Central Library, Ref. B708CAR (back)

23. J.A. Iredale, Noble Lister, The Enigma of a Statue, Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, 1979 p.6 (back)


Cartwright Hall - A guide to the building and its architecture 23pp (50p).

Anne Bishop had completed her article some time before we were aware of the existence of this guide which is typewritten, in a folder. It, too deals with the opening of the Hall and Exhibition in 1904 with the help of rather different sources. Mrs Bishop wishes to thank Paul Lawson Principal Keeper Arts and Extension Services, for permission to quote from the booklet and so add one or two new and interesting details to her account.

Mrs Bishop is most grateful to Graham Hall for reading through the script and supplying notes on certain points from his own files. Thanks are also due to West Yorkshire Archive Service, Bradford for permission to quote from the Cartwright Hall records and to Mr James and his staff for all their help.

© 1989, Anne Bishop and The Bradford Antiquary