Saturday, 3 March 2012

Bouncing Back

Bradford's Bouncing Back, was a marketing campaign for Bradford in the 1980s, which I'd never heard much about other than people talking about it and saying 'bounced back my arse' or something similar, obviously people in Bradford aren't known for their cynicism about anything.  Liz Green on Radio Leeds had a discussion on her show about how to sell Bradford, I spoke on there and didn't really add much that hadn't been said - and couldn't help have a dig at the negativity of some people in the city.  The question Liz was asking though is, how do we sell Bradford?  A couple of days after this, I was over in Headingley at the Oxfam bookshop and I found 'Laugh? I nearly went to Bradford!' by Tom Clinton, all about Bradford's Bouncing Back.

Bradford had suffered a lot in the decade or so preceding the start of the Bradford's Bouncing Back campaign.  Peter Sutcliffe had been at large, then there was the terrible fire at Valley Parade in 1985 and then the city had suffered badly from the deindustrialisation of the 1970s onwards, as well as the Honeyford Affair and negative perceptions of racial segregation.  Fast forward 25 years and the city is still seen as having an image problem, visible in the city centre from prominant derelict buildings such as the Odeon, the Westfield site, another mass-murderer in Steven Griffiths and the city is still in the shadow of the 2001 riots.  The TV programme 'Make Bradford British' has been summed up very well by a couple of locals Keith Wildman and Kate Wellham, as well as loads of others.

The Clinton book talks through the campaign, the cynicism it faced and the positive impacts it had on the city. The campaign was based on Smiles Better in Glasgow, not much like it had been done before. The campaign's first HQ was in a Portakabin on the pre-Centenary Square Market Street straight outside City Hall.  It was considered the campaign generated over a million quids worth of publicity (from a spend of £142k) and got the name of Bradford out there across the UK and beyond in a positive light and some David Hockney artwork (above), even generating tourism interest to this grim northern town.  The campaign created a focal point for the public and private sectors to work together. In the Autumn of 1988, when the Council was under the leadership of now Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, the funding for the project ended and it was unable to be sustained privately.  Its difficult to consider what project the difference would have made if it had run for a little bit longer.
Manningham Mills, Bradford

The end of the book is looking to the future and is very positive, with talk of the Victoria & Albert Museum moving north to Manningham Mills (above, which got converted into flats by Urban Splash) and the rejuvenation of Little Germany The West End project is perhaps a sad thing to read twenty years after the publication if the book, as most of this area is still awaiting regeneration.

The response to 'Make Bradford British' shows that there are many positive people in the City of Bradford who are proud of the place, but there still seems to be a missing link between translating this into a more positive image nationally.  We all know what makes Bradford a good place, but what's the best way to get the message across?

City Park, Bradford


  1. We had that 'Bouncing Back' poster on the wall when I worked for Judith Donovan.

    We then got a decade of "begging bowl" politics - tragedy really!

    Here's to the future

  2. Another great post to keep the debate about Bradford moving. The increasing number of people stepping up to defend our fair city is testament to the pride we take in it. The "Bradford's Bouncing Back" campaign, as well as the "Surprising Place" one made some impact but, once again, the budget cuts of Pickles' council put paid to it. The irony of him being Communities Secretary is almost as delicious as his favourite curry!
    I had thought to blog more myself about the rise or rebirth of Bradford but so many others are doing so eloquently that I feel that I can only add my voice and thanks to the chorus. Keep singing, though! Thanks D