Canal? What Canal – Stories from the Bradford Canal

Members of TIBSOB survey the small section of the Bradford Canal that still has water in it.

A group of nine young people, The Informal Busing Society of Bradford (TIBSOB), have been commissioned by Historic England to reveal the history of the now disappeared Bradford Canal and to mark a location where the canal was. The group were supported by Nicola Murray from Sponge Tree and Marie Millward from IVE to co-create the project.

On this site we share the three audio stories they made inspired by three points in the canal’s history – read on to find out more about the group, the Bradford Canal and how the work was made,

A place marker plaque designed by TIBSOB and artist Ben Holden will be installed on the former Bradford Canal bridge on Leeds Road in Shipley in February 2023.

Find the place marker at What Three Words moth apple that or on Google Maps.

Audio Stories

TIBSOB recording audio at Bradford Community Broadcasting

Using their own research, TIBSOB worked with storytelling mentor and playwright James Varney to create characters and stories which they performed and recorded at Bradford Community Broadcasting.

Find out how TIBSOB researched and created the audio stories and the place marker.

Canal? What Canal has been commissioned by Historic England as a part of a new scheme to help communities identify, mark, and celebrate the places where history has been made. Find out more about the Canal project.

The Informal Busing Society of Bradford

TIBSOB is a group of nine young people aged 11-14 who formed to work on this project. Their name comes from their preferred mode of transport and they took many bus rides together in the course of researching and making this project.

Alistair, Elliott, Grace, Jack, Maisie, Paige, Sage, Sam and Tom hope you enjoy the stories to be found on this site.

Thank You

We were helped along the way by many people and TIBSOB would like to say a very big thank you to the following people.

  • Nicola and Marie for helping make everything happen and meaning it when they say that young people can take the lead.
  • James Varney, our amazing storytelling mentor and the team at The Writing Squad
  • Mary Dowson at BCB Radio for teaching us about broadcasting and showing us how to make our story into sound.
  • Ben Holden, who transformed our ideas into a bright and playful image and made the place marker.
  • Canal Connections CIC and Gallows Bridge Boatyard for helping us to understand more about canals now and through the ages.
  • Bradford Museums‘  teams at Bradford Industrial Museum and Cartwright Hall with particular thanks to Heather Millard who showed us around the Industrial Museum and gave us lots of advice on how to do our historical research.
  • Q20 Theatre, Shipley
  • The Kirkgate Centre, Shipley
  • Sam Lionheart and the team at the National Science and Media Museum
  • Baildon Local History Society
  • Highways Assets and Landscaping Planning teams at Bradford Council
  • Ignite Yorkshire funds from National Lottery Heritage Fund also supported the early stages of this project.

Thanks for the support and trust of Historic England, especially Harriet and Emma, who gave us the opportunity to make this project and have lots of fun along the way.


Bradford Canal, 1774

September 1774. Caroline and Henry Richardson and their horse boy James, are preparing their boat, The Good Intent, for the first voyage down the Bradford Canal, with a load of coal.

Our listener notes give lots more background information and a transcript of the story.

Bradford Canal, 1851

24th October 1851. George Francis Herbert and William Richardson are transporting wool along the very pungent Bradford Canal.

Listener notes

Bradford Canal, 1922

July 15th 1922. Victoria and Matthew Richardson are on the Beta, the final boat to travel down the Bradford Canal.

Listener notes.