After what seems like something of a long wait today I was lucky enough to be invited along to the first Bradford Instameet organised by the folk at VisitBradford.
It's great to see the city is finally starting to take social media a little more seriously as a means of interacting with the community. Hopefully, this will be the first of many of this sort of event going forward.
What is an Instameet? In a nutshell, it's an organised gathering of folk who enjoy using Instagram. Sometimes the meets are held by individuals and are very informal, consisting of a pleasant walk around a place/area to take photos for fun to post on Instagram. Other times like today an Instameet maybe a more formal event with an organised itinerary and access to places the general public might not be allowed. The result is the same, of course. To come away with some great photos to upload to Instagram.
The latter of these was the focus of Fridays first Instameet. There are a growing number of us Bradfordians that would like to help raise the profile of the city above the atrocious media coverage we often receive. There is also an increasing number of us that enjoy seeing the work of other Bradvocates through the medium of Instagram. After a chat with the folk at Visit Bradford a formal inaugural event was put together and well it seemed to be a great success.
On Friday, a group of 15 or so of local Instagrammers gathered at the co-working space Assembly BD to kick the day off. What a fantastic place to start the day it was too. If you have not had a chance to take a look, I suggest you do. I would love to have the opportunity to work from there myself in the future. Discovering places like this in a city, I have lived in all my life highlights why events such as Instameets are a great idea. After a quick introduction it and nosey around the building off we went on a small guided tour of the city.
Now I don't think of myself as photography at all. I certainly fall more into the bracket of snapper (Pun very much intended). Having the opportunity to see some of the places I see every day from different angles; however, really did inspire me.
I don't know what I was hoping to get from the day. With hindsight, I think it was successful in some manners and not in others. That I think will change over time and with more involvement from the community. What we needed was some buy-in and support from the council and the city which we now clearly have from Visit Bradford. The next step is to build a community and make future Instameets less about commercialism and business and more about the people.
My take away from the day other than having learned some things about my city I didn't know was the people. I connected with many local people with similar interests and similar intents that I would not have otherwise have had the opportunity to speak with and share ideas. For me, this is what the city needs to thrive. Communication and collaboration are what we need more of to make a better community for our city.
Let's chat about the locations then.
The Bradford Club
First, we wandered down to The Bradford Club. A stunning interior of masked by a somewhat unassuming exterior. It's been many years since I was last inside and had forgotten quite how spectacular it is. Many of Bradford's most influential businessmen (and since 1988 women) have wandered the halls and corridors of this building. Indeed so enticing is it's lavish interior it is a well sought after location for film and TV productions.
The Midland Hotel
Next up was a walk through the lower floor of The Midland Hotel to experience the old walkway down to the rail station. It's like taking a walk back in time. Again this is a place I utterly forgot existed until I stepped inside. Hidden by the hotel is the untouched passage that led to the old station. Memories flooded back of my childhood walking down that same corridor holding my parent's hand. Another one of the many places in the city that are used frequently in TV shows. A theme that we found out is characteristic of a lot of places in Bradford.
One of my favourite places in the city. Indeed I had business here myself on Chapel Street a decade ago and still have many fond memories if the area. One of the towns most popular visitor area's is a conservation area of around 1/4 mile and boasts a considerable amount of listed building.
With buildings in several architectural styles with Little Germany was the business hub of the city for a good part of the early 19th century. Not only does the area provide Instagrammers with ample opportunity to take stunning pictures but also provides the backdrop to many a TV show. Examples like Peaky Blinders and Gentleman Jack to name but a few.
The Wool Exchange
On to our next location, The Wool Exchange. A compliment to the industrial heritage to our city and some of the other spots on our Instameet. Many of deals leading to the prosperity of Bradford in the early 1900s happened in this stunning listed building. Now it is home to Waterstones, and what a home it is. Beneath the building happens to be my favourite bar in the city as well. The Exchange Craft Ale Bar with its vaulted ceilings and mural on the wall detailing the history of the building it's a great place to spend an hour or so considering where to visit next.
Passing through City Park and the mirror pool, we found ourselves in Impressions gallery. Somewhere I thought to be closed down these days. I was wrong; it seems. A quick look around the exhibition and we're off again.
One of Bradford newer attractions is a Sunbridge Wells. Recently excavated and renovated turning the maze of tunnels and hallows into a selection of speciality bars and eateries. Sunbridge Wells is popular and well-liked for the diversity it brings to a relatively small footprint. Vaulted ceilings and exposed stonework make for a quite the visual treat. Especially for those with an eye for photography. There is too much in here to describe in a quick post, but it is worth checking out if you have for whatever reason not managed to make it down there yet.
You can find more pictures of Bradford on the Igersbradford instagram account.