Demolition of former Marks & Spencer exposes Victorian 'hidden gems' in Yorkshire city

As the demolition of Bradford’s former Marks & Spencer building continues, the “hidden gems” of one of the city’s most overlooked streets are starting to emerge.

The old M&S building on Darley Street, and a number of neighbouring buildings, are being torn down as the first part of a major new regeneration scheme.

Darley Street Market will be built on the M&S site, and as well as the new multi storey market building the scheme will include a new “city square.”

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One of the benefits of the scheme touted by Bradford Council was that the clearance of the buildings and the creation of the city square would open up Piccadilly – the street that runs parallel to Darley Street.

The clearance of the buildings will open up Picadilly in Bradford

With much of the old department store now pulled down the views of Piccadilly are emerging.

The street is home to a number of grand listed buildings some of which date back as far as the 1820s.

However, several of these buildings have become empty in recent years, and Piccadilly is mainly used by motorists, with very little passing footfall.

The City Centre Conservation Area assessment describes the streets as being home to a number of “early examples of warehouse and business premises, which now predominate the heart of the city.”

These buildings include “rare survivors” of warehouses from the era.

The city square at Darley Street Market will link Darley Street to Piccadilly, and bring the buildings that have been hidden behind the large, mid 20th century shops for decade to a much greater prominence.

Alan Hall, Deputy Chair of Bradford Civic Society, said: “Now that the demolition of Marks and Spencer and other nearby premises are going ahead, it gives an opportunity to see some of the fine Victorian buildings in Piccadilly which were obscured by the shops on Darley Street.

“Indeed, Piccadilly with its hidden gems may not be very well known to many Bradfordians.

“Bradford Civic Society supports the redevelopment of this area, provided the developers manage to blend modernity with the kind of traditional cityscape which makes our city unique.”

In recent years a number of buildings on Piccadilly, including the former William Hicks Solicitors, have been granted permission to become residential.

Marks & Spencer on Darley Street shut when the retail giant moved into the Broadway Shopping Centre in 2015.

Demolition will last until February and the new market is due to open in 2023.