9. Comparisons - Other Cities


by Dennis Mills


‘Building control in Bradford: Deposited building plans, their origins and uses with particular reference to Little Germany’

Geoffrey Manuel

(First published in 1991 in volume 5, pp. 57-68, of the third series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)

‘Contrast’ is probably a better word than ‘comparison’ when moving from smaller cathedral cities to much larger cities such as Bradford. The sheer scale of expansion in the Victorian period required a much bigger effort to be made in terms of building control and changes in Council committee structures. An early start in 1850 is not surprising. A feature of this substantial paper is the attention paid in the early pages to the way in which Bradford started control under a new Bradford Improvement Act of that date, following the Public Health (or Health of Towns) Act of 1848. ‘Little Germany’ was an area of ‘stuff’ warehouses, many used by German merchants built in a 20-year period starting in 1853. The article is illustrated and is meticulously referenced.



G. A. Chinnery, ‘Nineteenth-century building plans in Leicester’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, vol.49 (1973-74), pp.33-41.

Leicester’s experience was similar to Bradford’s in that there was an early start, the first officers being appointed in 1849, but with the direct help of the General Board of Health in London under the Public Health Act of 1848. Most of the article addresses the archival arrangements and condition of the building plans and one is impressed by the claim of a survival rate of 90 per cent as normal during the period 1849-1935. There are about 50,000 documents in the collection. A graph covering the period 1850-1919 shows the variations in the number of new houses built. No plans are included. This article is the earliest we have found on the use of building plans.


West Yorkshire

Gillian Cookson, ‘Large scale problems : the neglect of building plans’, The Local Historian, vol.19, (February 1989), pp.3-7.

The author had been working on the Yorkshire Textile Mills for the RCHME and the illustrations of building plans used are of a new dyehouse at Albert Mills, Lockwood, Huddersfield. For those interested in taking up this line of research, Cookson provides a list of building plans in the various record offices of West Yorkshire, a few of them on microfiche. Although obviously out-of-date this would be a valuable starting point. She noted that some plans were not conformed with by the builders; and, not surprisingly, many were missing.