Archive | June, 2018

Pie, Priestley & Proud of Bradford Returns

30 Jun

Priestely Fest 18 Napoloens only poster.jpg

Little Pie and Priestley Festival 2018

Celebrating a great Bradford born writer’s birthday 

and a meat & potato pie that defied Hitler

Priestley and Pie show

Glyn Watkins’ bit of a double birthday show 

Napoleons Casino. 

Thurs. 13th Sept. 19.30. 

Priestley readings, pie & peas, music & a free £5 bet!

Call Napoleons – 01274 391820

Full disabled access,. No under 18’s



Transcript of the Sewage Tour Sell-out interview that trumped Trump!

30 Jun

Today the radio interview I did with  Andrew Edwards, BBC Radio Leeds will no longer be available on their listen again feature, so I have done a rough transcript. 

The interview was recorded around 09.00 on Friday 1st June and broadcast at around 07.10 on Saturday 2nd June.

After the broadcast ‘Bradford sewage tour sells out!’ became a featured news item on Radio Leeds for at least the next few hours, moving the President Trump to the bottom!

Studio live.

Andrew: News now of an rather unusual weekend event for which every single ticket has gone in a flash, so don’t get too excited. Glyn Watkins invited me to join him in Bradford on a glorious spring morning for an explanation.

Recorded interview.

Andrew: Historic Bradford Sewage Tour, and it’s a sell-out Glyn. How on earth can that be?

Glyn: Well, we’re obviously flushed with success! It obviously something people feel they need to know about.

Andrew: What on earth gave you the idea for it?

Glyn: I have no idea! They come, and they just appear from nowhere, like things do at Esholt Sewage Works sometimes.

Andrew: This is nothing to do with the image some people might have of horrible, dank sewers full of all unmentionable things at breakfast time; tells us where we are.

Glyn: We are at Hepworth and Idle Cricket club; looking out over the Air Valley. The blackbirds and the sparrows cheeping in the background; the gang mower going in the outfield. It’s a marvellous, idillic spot; Westfield Lane, Idle

Andrew: And a brewery delivery in the background, but it’s a little early for us. It is beautiful, there’s a flower filled meadow here; but that’s not what we’re here to look at, let’s climb over this slightly broken down stone wall. Here we go… and here’s the cricket club, and there’s the beer barrels going in at the back; but it’s what’s in front of the cricket club that we’re looking at.

Glyn: Yes. The magnificent, tower like vent for the Esholt Sewage Tunnel. two and three quarter miles of engineering marvellousness, that brings Bradford’s sewage from Bradford to Esholt. 

Andrew: So that was a tunnel that was specifically made and dug to cary the city’s sewage?

Glyn: Indeed! It’s one of Bradford’s proudest achievements. Started before the First World War. Opened in 1923. 27 feet wide and two and three quarter mile long.

Andrew: And beneath our feet?

Glyn: Beneath our feet indeed! It’s flowing away summer and winter, day and night.

Andrew: I know you recce the route of things like this. It wouldn’t do to have a sewage tour and find that you couldn’t get to where you needed to go, so you came here, I know, in the winter. Tell us what you could see from the sewage vent?

Glyn: Well, you could see mild steam escaping. There’s no smell. Loads of people walked past me and said: “Oh you’re taking pictures of the water tower.” they assumed. It looks like something guarding the entrance to Mordor, doesn’t it? 

Andrew: It does!

Glyn: You know. It’s 20 foot high, or maybe a  bit more. It’s got slits as though there going to be archers inside defending it!

Andrew: It’s made. It’s got the pollution you can see into the surface of the stone (sound of patting) but this is Yorkshire grit isn’t it?

Glyn: It is. It’s Brafert grit!. The reason Bradford Canal stayed open for as long as it did was the stone dug out from beneath our feet! In fact Manchester Town Hall is built of Bradford stone

Andrew: Well: there’s a good fact. So let us just walk around it. I tell you what it remind of: when you have underground railway tunnels, tunnels are underground, you often have the vents, particularly from the age of steam, the needed to get rid of things… and if I had seen it without knowing it that’s what I would j have thought it was.

Glyn: Indeed, yes Also, the thing about vents is that you dig them down and then you can start digging the tunnels  out from the bottom of the shaft. That’s one of the main reasons for the vents; it’s not just to lets stuff out and air in; although for a sewer you might need to let some air out, just in case there’s a build up! 

Andrew: Yes, thank you for that. The tour, you’re doing it in style. Just tell us about a few of the stops on the way, and how you are getting between the stops.

Glyn: Well, we’re travelling on a vintage bus. We’re not taking the open top, unfortunately, as there is a slight chance of rain; but we’re taking the 1958 vintage bus to the Industrial Museum in Bradford to see the sewage powered steam engine. Then we’re coming here to Hepworth to watch a little bit of cricket and drink some beer, being delivered in the background, then were going down, via the Great Northern Railway’s last remaining gent’s urinal, to Esholt treatment

Andrew: Hang on! Your not stopping off at the urinal?

Glyn: No. If people want to come back latter under their own steam then they’re welcome. It’s full of leaves, but it’s there and it’s a historic monument!

Andrew: So you just point it out like a tour guide?

Glyn: Indeed, yes.

Andrew: Sorry, I interrupted. Where are you going to end

Glyn: In fact we’re going to end back in Bradford; but we’re going via Esholt Treatment works, or Sewage works really. We’re going to have a little bit of a look round the sewage works. Then we’re going to Saltaire Brewery; with a chance to see what remains of Bradford Canal, which used to occasionally catch fire in the old days!

Andrew: What! Because it was so polluted?

Glyn: Because, Indeed, it was so polluted. There was so much gas bubbling up that boys used to set the gas bubbles alight. And, in fact, silver watches used to turn black if you used to stand next the canal for too long because of the hydrogen dioxide in the atmosphere!

Andrew: You are a man who knows how to have a heck of a Saturday! A sewage tour of Bradford!

Glyn: Oh yes! Socials, masonic! I’m open to bookings


Andrew: What a very, very interesting man. Bradford poet Glyn Watkins. Organiser of today’s vintage bus tour of sewage history. You heard me correctly. It is, I stress, a sell out so don’t think you’re going to get yourself on it. It was thought up by Glyn, supported by historian Dave Pendleton and North Parade’s Sparrow Bier Cafe and the Record Cafe. And actually just as we were about to head away from the beautiful hepworth and Idle Cricket Club; brilliant location there; Glyn told me about something else. We were standing on the other side of the road looking at a flower filled meadow.


Glyn: Again we’re on Westfield Lane, and we’re just below High Busy Lane, which is one of the quietest streets in Bradford.

Andrew: What the irony is there. Now this is a field with a real historical story to it?

Glyn: Indeed! In 1941 a Junkers 88 bomber was shot down over Yorkshire and the crew bailed out. The bomber crashed on Idle High Street and killed people, the only people killed by direct enemy action in the war. And the pilot, an Oberleutnant Jurgans, actually landed in this field and was captured: or captured in a manner of speaking. He climbed over a gate and met a youngish man who he surrounded to, and the man thought he was drunk because of the way he was talking. He was actually speaking English with a German accent, and the man reported later that he thought he was drunk.

Andrew: What an amazing story! So here in the tranquil calm of the hights of Bradford we have, essentially a war prisoner!

Glyn: Indeed yes! He gave no trouble, they talked about chess and he taken off and later went to America and became a dentist in Denver., apparently.

Sewage Tour Trumps Trump!

3 Jun
Tony, one of our bus trip regulars told me Radio Leeds used part of the interview with Radio Leeds’ Andrew Edwards in the 8.00 and 9.00 news, before some news story about Trump! Good on Radio Leeds! Local news for local people.
It were a grand day out, and a bit of a personal triumph, though I was on auto-inspect by the end. As Les said: best yet, but came after 4 years hard work. It was certainly the most enjoyable for me of the 4 we have done thus far.
We went down roads that had probably never seen a double decker before, and there were some right laughs: the sweepstake on who many times I would say “” and me shouting “left, left, Left! LEFT!!” just in time, being amongst them.
We put smiles on peoples faces where ever we went; with lots of excited children waving; and put business the way of the Industrial Museum (a first visit for some), Hepworth & Idle Cricket Club (who did us a lovely tea and sold us fine beer) and Saltaire Brewery, where things mellowed and loads stayed.
We also learned a lot about the new processes at Esholt Sewage works. It is back to being close to carbon neutral, and ships all processed solids off for fertiliser. The massive gates also got excitingly close to the bus and all.
I would recommend Yesteryear Coaches to anyone,

Historical Sewage Tour illustrations 2. The ways of the outside toilet.

2 Jun

Typical mid-late Victorian tunnel back-to-back. Notice the paving slabs for handcart wheels.

Back2back tunnelNo 6

Outside toilets would have had pipework for a flush installed in the first half of the 20th Century.

Outside flush toilet at museumNo. 7

The space in the middle is the ‘ashes place’ from where workmen would shovel coal ash and ‘toilet solids’ into their handcart.

Outside lavvyN0.8

Junkers 88




I was interviewed by Andrew Edwards at Hepworth & Idle C,C. for his Radio Leeds Show. 2/6/2018 at 07.10.

1 Jun

I’m on at about 70 minutes, just after ‘Dancing on the ceiling.’