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Bradford Waits

Excerpt from “A Musical Pilgrimage in Yorkshire” by J. Sutcliffe Smith (1928).

BRADFORD (p. 72)

Belonging to this earlier period, there existed a curious band of musicians known as the Town Waits of Bradford. The oldest company was a town institution in 1822, and held a license to sing and perform, from the magistrates. What a picture this group must have presented! We read that three of them – Jim Fletcher, Billy Blazeby, and Jack Dodge – were blind, and tied to a pole. The fourth, named Sam, who had his sight, acted as their guide. We are told that the music produced by these four old fellows was not by any means great, perhaps not always presentable; but they always received a welcome at Christmas, and on great occasions. When a rival company sprang up, called the New Borough Waits, the happier days of the old Town Waits were at an end; for we read that there were 'constant bickerings, jealousies, and retaliations, between the rival parties'. As most Bradfordians are aware, this picturesque feature of their city has long been numbered among its things of the past.

Click the following link to see a picture of the Bradford Waits in 1829: Bradford Blind Waits

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