View Full Version : Archived: St Andrew's Interfaith Centre, Listerhills, Bradford, March '10

08-03-2010, 10:19 PM
8.26pm - Boxing Day 2009, Bradford, West Yorkshire. The fire alarm cut across the early evening T.V at the fire station, and within a couple of minutes the appliance was on the road. The report had come in of a building fire on Listerhills Road, east of the city centre. There was snow on the ground; it had been there since the first snow of the winter on the 17th, and since then, the temperature had rarely risen above freezing. A crowd had begun to gather as the first pump pulled up at the Interfaith Centre. At it's peak, six appliances and over forty firefighters from the surrounding area, including Bradford, Fairweather Green and Odsal were needed. This is the Interfaith centre, two months on.

I had loved reading the cracking report of the building done by Silverstealth a few days ago, and after researching the fate of the bells (sold for 700 scrap in 1967) it made me want to see more. Today, I have concentrated on the church adjoining the vicarage.

The Interfaith Centre was housed in the Grade II listed building, annexed to the vicarage. I had visited here as a teacher in Bradford, although only realised once I went again to check out what remained. The initial view was promising.

Tables were piled high with stuff salvaged from the fire. Little of the church remained intact apart from this room.

It was clear, moving on into the building, that the fire damage was bad. The roof had gone in the next part of the building, leaving charred timbers casting harsh shadows onto the exposed walls.

It was hard to take pictures in here. Sunlight flooded into the rooms, and yet cast much of the building into deep shadow. Pictures were either too bright, or too dark.

This side room was ruined; slates lay on top of twisted and blackened roofing joists, and the carcass of a large cupboard was identifiable amongst the wreckage. I think this was where the shop was. I didn't buy anything last time I was here. Today was no different.

Back in 1853, when St Andrew's opened, things would have looked very different to the Reverend Knight Gale, the first vicar here (what an incredibly cool name). The main room had clearly been where a lot of the fire had happened.

I was struggling with the camera badly at this point. Trying to get any sort of decent exposure was impossible. The aim was to get the stack of chairs, the backs melted off by the intense heat of the fire. It is not that easy to see them here, and for that I can only apologise.

It was clear that some sort of emergency work had taken place here immediately after the fire to make it safe. The top of the tower had been taken off and a couple of gable ends had been taken down. The firemen who arrived here around 8.30 on Boxing day had initially seen flames through the windows before the roof caught fire. The aerial ladder platform battled with the burning building through much of the night, with much of the roof crashing down into the rooms below.

The Interfaith centre played a very important part in education across Bradford, a city still very divided ethnically. Primary schools in Bradford are still, through the nature of the population, very polarised by race. Classes in Manningham and Girlington are frequently 100% Asian, yet less than two miles away, in places like Swain House and Idle, they can be 100% white. The Interfaith centre played a significant role in connecting the faiths by providing resources, outreach work and the aim to bridge the enormous difference between the different groups. To see it like this was very sad.

The significant damage to a listed building was very disappointing. The smoke damaged remains of the library were clear to see, and yet, having worked in Bradford and understanding its perilous grip on it's fading historical glory and the undercurrents of racism that frequently surface in the city, the loss of such an important resource in a place such as Bradford perhaps even more difficult to see.

The charred remains of a plant, its ceramic pot twisted out of shape.

Some people wouldn't have bothered with this, and walked past the damage and devastation without a second glance, preferring the glamour of other places, yet I loved this. I don't like solo explores usually, but this one was good, and definitely worth a second glance :thumb

What now for this place? With it being listed, it isn't just a case of knocking it down. Already the surveyors have been here, and, at least for the moment, yet another part of Bradford clings on.
The Interfaith centre is currently in temporary accommodation at the home of Education Bradford, Future House.