Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford contains one of the finest collection of Victorian Gothic memorials. It covers an area of 26 acres and accommodates some 124,000 burials and 23,000 marked graves, and was established in the mid 19th century in response to the very rapid expansion of the industrial city of Bradford, which grew from around 13,000 in 1800 to over 103,000 fifty years later. Life for the working classes was typically harsh and short, with long working hours under appalling working conditions in the many wool mills. Most of these people would have been unable to afford a private burial site, let alone a headstone, and are now lost to history. The managerial classes and business owners fared rather better, living away from the pollution of the mills on the periphery of the city or in the surrounding towns. Their wealth allowed for the many spectacular Gothic memorials at Undercliffe, now heavily soot blackened . They appear to compete with each other in their baroque splendour. But the many graves of infants tell another story, that of the grief which was a frequent visitor to many families in that time.
My pictures represent a small fragment of the cemetery, and it’s well worth reading the inscriptions, which add to the story of life and death in Victorian Bradford.
Undercliffe Cemetery is a Grade 2* listed site and since 1987 has been managed by the Undercliffe Cemetery Charity.