John Frederick Bradley 1881- 1944

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My grandfather John Frederick Bradley was born in 1881 at West Darby, Liverpool, the first child of John and Elizabeth Bradley. His brother George was born in 1884. Their mother Elizabeth died in 1890 aged only 28 years, so their father John and his two young sons aged seven and five, moved north to live with their extended family at Lindal Street, Barrow in Furness. This meant that he could continue to work. He was a stone mason.

The 1901 census shows the family at Oxenholme Terrace, Ulverston; young JFB was 19 and like his father he too was a stone mason. George, 17, was following the same trade in the quarries/mines of the Coniston area of Cumbria.

During the years 1901-08 JFB worked at Ampleforth College and at the new cathedral, St Peters, in Liverpool where building started in 1906. He married his wife Margaret in 1903: George emigrated to Canada.

By 1908 JFB, a journeyman stone mason, his wife and three children were living at 60 Vienna Road in Stockport and he had started to keep an official logbook of all work undertaken. This included 1909 – Greek Street High School for Girls, Stockport, 1911- Pearl Life Assurance new offices in Leeds. More than 100 years later this building is now grade 2 listed and has been turned into luxury city centre apartments.


Pearl Assurance Building, The Headrow

Beckett Park College, detail of the springer from JFB’s workbook

JFB’s next employment was in Headingley, at Beckett Park where a teacher training college was being built. It opened in 1913 but in 1914, the college was commandeered and converted into a military hospital designated the 2nd Northern General Hospital for the duration of WW1 and beyond. It finally reverted to its original purpose in 1924. It is now Leeds Beckett University.

For his part in WW1 JFB was conscripted in 1916 aged 34. By now he had six children and he wrote to each of them individually when he could find the time. In May 1918 he was captured by the Germans and spent the final five months of the war in a POW camp near Wesel in Germany.

After the war ended JFB returned to Leeds and amongst his varied work he built war memorials at Armley Park, Headingley and Lawnswood Cemetery. This rather unique photo shows him standing on the left of the platform wearing a trilby. He had designed the scaffolding himself and it was more robust than it looks!

In the mid-1920s he became Clerk of Works for Leeds City Council and oversaw the building of Bentley Lane lower and upper schools, Middleton Primary School, Lawnswood High School (the original version), and Leeds Modern School at Roundhay.


John F Bradley died in 1944 from silicosis, most likely as a result of breathing in the fine dust whilst stone cutting.

He was cremated at Lawnswood and his ashes were scattered in the area of the War Memorial which he had built. His memorial stone is on the wall of the Columbarium.

Malcolm Rawson