Railways Home

Market Street Station?

It is well known that the current Forster Square Station replaced a much larger and more impressive one in 1990, and many there are many Bradfordians who knew the former Forster Square Station. But the earlier history of the station is known to rather fewer, and as I shall show, some of what can be found in the reference books appears to be wrong.

The basic story is not in dispute. The Leeds and Bradford Railway opened their line from Leeds via Shipley to Bradford on July 1, 1846; the Midland Railway subsequently absorbed the L&B, and built a new terminus in 1890; and later this came to be called Forster Square Station. But beyond these basic facts the books disagree with each other and with contemporary records.

The most readily accessible book that gives any kind of detail is Whitaker & Myland 1993 (p. 4):

“In July [1844], they obtained Parliamentary powers for the Leeds and Bradford Railway between Leeds Wellington Street and Bradford via Shipley ...

“The public opening was on 1st July, 1846 with the Bradford terminus being just east of Forster Square. Hourly services were introduced to Leeds and through trains started running to London Euston via Derby and Rugby. ...

“... The original Midland terminus was replaced in 1890 by the much bigger Market Street which was renamed Forster Square in 1924. ...

“The station was demolished in 1992 after being replaced two years earlier by a new three-platform railhead which was intended to form an integral part of a £90 million shopping centre”.

For the most part this is unexceptionable, but there are some errors and omissions:

But the most intriguing issue is the name of the station, which I consider in the next section.

Market Street

Whitaker & Myland quite categorically say (p. 47, echoing Whitaker 1986) that the new station built in 1890 was called Market Street, and that this name was in use until 1924. This is supported by other references, though there is some confusion as to when the name was used:

Thus we already have a conundrum: when was the name ‘Market Street’ in use?

My answer, from contemporary records, is ‘never’. I have seen one solitary mention of "Market Street Station" in a national railway guide from 1913, but I have yet to find a single contemporary reference from Bradford to any of the stations as ‘Market Street’, but I have plenty of references which do not use that name. See table 1.

Forster Square

Whitaker 1986 says (p.47):
“Another name change following the 1923 amalgamation of the Midland into the mighty London, Midland and Scottish Railway empire saw the station become Bradford Forster Square with effect from June 2, 1924.”

I can confirm that the name ‘Forster Square’ did start being used for the station in 1924, but I have found no confirmation that this happened on June 2nd: if it did, there was no announcement of the change in the Bradford Daily Telegraph either that day or the next, and nobody – including the railway companies – seems to have referred to it as such for at least a week after that date. See table 2.

It is noticeable that LNER advertisements continue to use the old name well into July, whereas LMS ones switch over to ‘Forster Square’ from June 13, apart from one backsliding on June 19. It is also noteworthy that ‘Market Street’ was no more current in 1924 than it was in 1890.


My conclusion is that, contrary to the modern books, no Bradford station was ever officially named ‘Market Street’, and if one or other was informally so known it was so informal that the newspapers did not use the name.

The L&BR’s 1846 station was simply Bradford Station (there was no other), and both the Midland’s replacement in the early 1850’s, and their grand new development of 1890, were simply referred to as the Midland Station. In mid-1924 the latter started to be referred to as Forster Square station, but if this naming was official there was no report of it in the Telegraph, and some references to it (including those of the LNER) continued to be to the "Midland station" for at least a month.



Table 1: Before 1924

Date Publication Item Text
2 July 1846 BWO, p.1 Advertisement LEEDS & BRADFORD RAILWAY
OPEN to the PUBLIC, on WEDNESDAY, the First Day of JULY, 1846.
The Trains will leave the Station at Wellington Street, Leeds, and also the Station at Bradford, as under ...
1856 Lord's Directory (?) Railway information Station, bottom of Kirkgate
1871 Dixon & Hindle Map Midland Station
1879/80 POBD Railway information Station, bottom of Kirkgate.
cf. “Exchange Station, Drake St”.
1883/4 POBD Railway information Station, bottom of Kirkgate
3 March 1890 BO, p 1 Advertisement (run for several days) MIDLAND RAILWAY
The NEW PASSENGER STATON at BRADFORD will be OPENED at Twelve noon on Mar 2nd ...
3 March 1890 BO, p4 News story The new Bradford Midland Station was opened yesterday ...
3 March 1890 BO, p4 Editorial The new Midland Railway passenger station in Bradford was opened yesterday without ceremony or special celebration ... Both the Midland and Exchange Stations ....
11 August 1897 BO, p7 News story DEATH OF THE BRADFORD MIDLAND STATIONMASTER – We regret to have to announce the death of Mr. Robert Smith, stationmaster at the Bradford Station of the Midland Railway Company. ...
1898 POBD Railway information Station, bottom of Kirkgate.
cf. “Exchange Station, Drake St”
1916 POBD Railway information Station, Forster Square.
cf. “Exchange Station, Drake St”
Table 1: References to the station before 1924
Key: BWO: Bradford and Wakefield Observer; POBD: The Post-Office Bradford Directory; BO: Bradford Observer.

Table 2: 1924

The references in the following table are all to the Bradford Daily Telegraph
Date Page Item Text
21 Jan 9 News item re rail strike At the Bradford Exchange Station ...
At the Midland Station ...
31 Jan 9 News item Both the Midland and the Exchange Stations ...
1 May 11 LMS Advertisement BRADFORD (“Midland”)
26 May 10 LMS Advertisement Bradford (Mid.)
30 May 11 LNER Advertisement Midland Station
31 May back Article The LMS Station
6 June 4 LNER Advertisement Midland Station
7 June back Article re holiday weekend ... the Midland Station ...
... the Exchange Station ...
9 June back Article re holiday weekend ... the Forster Square Station ...
10 June back Article re holiday weekend Exchange Station ... (but did not mention Midland station by name).
13 June 6 Article ... Mr F. W Pugh, stationmaster at Bradford Forster Square Station ...
10 LMS Advertisement Forster Square
14 LNER Advertisement Midland Station
19 June 8 LMS Advertisement Midland
20 June 4 LMS Advertisement Forster Square
10 LNER Advertisement Midland Station
27 June 8 LMS Advertisement Forster Square
8 LNER Advertisement Midland Station
28 June 3 LMS Advertisement Forster Square
12 July 4 LNER Advertisement BRADFORD (Mid)
14 July 7 LNER Advertisement BRADFORD (Mid)
19 July 4 LNER Advertisement Forster Square
25 July 8 LNER Advertisement Forster Square
8 August 4 LNER Advertisement Forster Square
7 LMS Advertisement Forster Square
29 August 8 LNER Advertisement Forster Square
Table 2: references in the Bradford Daily Telegraph in 1924
Railways Home

Page created by Colin Fine . Last updated $Date: 2014/10/03 00:29:51 $