The Industrial Development and Subsequent Job Opportunities Created in Bradford, Yorkshire, England that Motivated the Irish to Migrate there Before, During and After the Famine

Bradford is located in the West Riding area of Yorkshire, England. According to Edward Baines's in the tome"Baines Yorkshire" originally published in 1822," Bradford was " in the very heart of the manufacturing country being nearly a central point between Halifax, Keighley, Leeds, Wakefield, Dewsbury and Huddersfield." (Baines, Edward, 1969 p.2). The towns of Leeds, Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield were surrounded by pasture and dairy farming took place north of Leeds and Bradford. Farming was the primary focus of the Yorkshire economy before the Industrial Revolution took place. (Singleton, Tate, 1960, p 44-45). Bradford is located about 10 miles from Leeds and 18 miles from Huddersfield. In 1822 when Edward Baines compiled his History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of York, his section on the town of Bradford indicated that it was approximately 15 miles in length, 4 in breadth and composed of around 40,000 acres. (Baines, Edward, 1969, p 147). There appears to have been a significant migration trail from County Mayo and County Roscommon to Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield from what I have analyzed thus far in the England Census Records; I have already analyzed the Irish in both Huddersfield and Leeds in great detail between 1851 and 1871 identifying surnames Brennan, Corcoran, Coffey, Gahagan (and all variations of these surnames) in both. I intend to do the same with Bradford, Dewsbury, Halifax and Wakefield. Donald M MacRaid in his tome Irish Migration in Modern Britain, found that the "Yorkshire Irish were mainly from Connacht and Leinster with the Leeds Irish coming especially from Dublin, Mayo and Tipperary and those in Bradford from Queens, Mayo, Sligo and Dublin." (MacRaid, Donald M, 1999 p. 67).

The largest concentrations of Irish-born in the Bradford West End Sub registration District of the 1841 census were living on Mill Bank, Silsbridge Lane, Lower and Upper West Street, Providence Street, Victoria Street, Westgate, Black Abbey, Bermondsey, Commercial, Longcroft Place, Longland and Mill Street. Clearly the vast majority were employed in textile industry related jobs like Wool combers and Worsted Weaver.

In my research thus far on the 1851 Bradford Irish in both Bradford West and East End Sub-registration districts, very few place names of origin were given. In 1851 the Irish-born were spread throughout the districts of Bradford West End but the highest concentrations were living in District 16 (Leys Street, Albion Street, Manson St, Lister Place and Keighley Street), District 17 (Thompson Alley and several on Prospect Street), District 18 (Lower West Street, Upper West Street and Thomas Street), District 19 (Victoria Street and several on Silbridge Lane), District 20 (Green Air Place), District 23 (Longcroft Place), District 24 (Longlands Street and Longcroft Place), District 25 (Longlands Street and Place, Pool Alley and scattered about on Westgate, Chapel Fold, Providence Street, Selsbridge, Jackson's Buildings), District 30 (Black Abbey Fold, Spink Street and Place, Salt Pie Street and scattered numbers on Boy's Court, Ludlow Street, Brick Lane, Low and High Street), District 31 (Providence Stret with scattered numberes on Hagsworth Street, Summitt Street and White Abbey Road) and District 32 (Grace Church Street and scattered numbers on Lumb Lane, King Street, Sedwick and White Abbey). Streets such as Goitside and Mill Bank in some of the Bradford West End districts with smaller Irish clusters also had significant numbers of Irish-born living on them. According to the "The Irish in the Victorian City" by Swift and Gilley, "8.9% of the Irish born in the Bradford 1851 Census were Irish Born." (Swift, Roger and Gilley, Sheridan, Editors 1985, p. 15). This percentage placed Bradford among the top twenty Irish Towns in Britain around 1851. By 1871, these numbers had dropped to 5.8%, (Swift, Roger, 2002, p. 35).

Yorkshire was known for the manufacture of woolen fabrics (occurring primarily in Leeds, Huddersfield, Halifax and Bradford). By the mid 17th century, competition from abroad led Bradford to start production of "Worsted." Industrial growth led to a population boom in Bradford in the first half of the 19th century going from about 6000 in 1801 to about 103,000 in 1851. The Bradford Canal was built in 1774 and one connecting it with Leeds and Liverpool was constructed in 1777. This canal system traversed almost 130 miles. I noted a heavy concentration of Textile workers in the Leeds Census records between 1851 and 1871 but there appear to be many more Wool Combers and Power Loom and Hand Loom Weavers of Worsted in Bradford than I noted in Leeds. A push was made to bring a steam powered mill to Bradford as early as 1793, but didn't succeed until the Holme Mill did so around 1798. (Singleton, F.B. and Tate, W.E. 1960, p 47). By the time the 1851 census was taken, there already appears to be more Power Loom Weavers than Hand Loom Weavers in Bradford. The Industrial Revolution led to the construction of big factories replacing the small mills dotting the countryside and those who worked at home. One negative of this massive industrial growth and the advent of steam powered mills was the increased employment of young children who labored long hours in the textile mills. I noted a large number of entries for Factory Girls and Boys in the Bradford West End 1851 Census. "Bradford, only a village in 1750, became famous for wool combing and worsted manufacture, as well as being the business centre of the woolen industry." (Singleton, F.B, Tate W.E., 1960 p. 48). According to Edward Baines section on Bradford in his Gazateer "Worsted Stuffs form the staple manufacture of this town and neighborhood but broad and narrow cloths, wool-cards, and combs are also made here to a considerable extent adn the cotton trade from Lancashire has found its way into this district." (Baines, Edward, 1969 p. 147).

The Irish-born women listed with an occupation in the Bradford West and East End Registration District, were most commonly employed in the textile industry or as House Servants, Charwoman or Dressmakers. They appeared to hold the same type of jobs in Leeds as well. According to John Archer Jackson in his "The Irish in Britain," "The prejudice against the employment of Irish Domestics, which may in some cases have arisen from other causes than incompetence, occasionally made it necessary for them to conseal their origin to gain the post." Jackson, John Archer, 1963 p. 88).

Clearly many Irish immigrants passed through or settled in Yorkshire during and after the famine. They were heavily employed in the Textile industry as well as a plethora of other jobs. Most of them involved in manual laborer of some sort. The Bradford Catholic Irish attended St Mary's Church which was built around 1824. Bradford was primarily a protestant area before the Irish moved in.

I have been trying to identify shared migration trails that the Irish followed from County Mayo and County Roscommon, Ireland. I am beginning to identify the Brennan,Corcoran, Coffee and Gahagan families in the Bradford Census records. I have already done so in Huddersfield and Leeds, Yorkshire and will also look at Halifax, Wakefield and Dewsbury.