Friends of Bradford Beck make progress with work on historic waterway

Bradford NeckConservationists says signs are good for Bradford Beck as they continue a campaign to cover up outdated danger warnings that tell people to keep away from the dirty water.

Volunteers with Friends of Bradford Beck are determined to expose the beck with their new ‘This Is Bradford Beck’ signs as a pleasant place to meander and enjoy.

Once deemed the filthiest river in England, they say with a little help from them and funding agencies, it could become attractive and healthy again.

This Sunday, the Friends of Bradford Beck are throwing a ‘Becknic’ party from 2pm to 3pm under The Crag in Valley Road, Shipley, to raise awareness of the waterway as something to celebrate.

People can just go along and join in – all they need to do is bring their own food.

The Friends and partner groups have come up with ambitious plans to clean up and improve the river, allowing wildlife to thrive and making it an asset to the city.

The beck’s water quality has been tested and come out “better than first expected”, said Steve Bland, of The Friends group.

The Friends have also been through the city to identify how and where the cleanliness and attractiveness of the watercourse for people and wildlife could be improved.

To make a start, volunteers have been holding action days clearing the areas of the beck and came up with the signing project.

They have been out and about covering up the old red warning signs dating back to the 1980s, if not earlier.

Mr Bland said: “When I was growing up those signs scared my mum. She always told us to stay away because we could catch something from the water but of course we didn’t stay away and we didn’t get ill from it either.

“The beck has pretty much been forgotten over the years. We want to reveal it again so it can be enjoyed and become an important part of the city again.”

Of the 11km of the beck which flows through the city, the majority is either hidden underground or forced to run through deep artificial culverts.

Many of these date back to the 19th century, when Bradford Beck was so polluted it was deemed the filthiest river in England, despite the city being at the time the country’s richest.

The culverts were built to hide the sight and smells of it. It runs beneath the Alhambra, City Hall, under the Westfield site and out on Canal Road to Shipley. The Friends are looking for funding to put up information boards, direction signs showing the way to the beck and possible marker flagstones or a painted line through the city centre charting its underground flow.

Thanks to the Telegraph and Argus for the publicity.

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