Bradford had an international population of merchants and traders, many of whom had made Bradford their permanent home. The grandeur of the merchant’s offices, warehouses and residences in Little Germany and across the city tell their own stories of affluence, success and the range of nationalities represented.
A European war presented challenging dilemmas for many families and businesses. “All trade with Germany is at an end,” declared the Bradford Daily Telegraph but hoped the city would pick up new business from foreign lands which no longer traded with Germany. Army contracts were also won and helped delay the decline in the worsted cloth trade.
The city had close links with Roubaix, the centre of the French wool trade and many Bradfordians found themselves stranded there when war began. Two ladies wrote, “One does not know what to do for the best. To be at the mercy of the Germans is no little matter: they are such brutes and savages. A lot of English wounded were being brought to Lille yesterday.”
There were many Bradfordians taking holidays abroad in August 1914 and letters appeared in the press describing adventurous return journeys and varied accounts of the German invasion of Belgium. 14-year-old Teddy Fleming managed to make his own way home from Ghent where he had been improving his language skills. He was to serve in the Artillery in Salonika in 1918.