Marking the Beck

Marking the Beck to bring it to the senses of Bradford’s people

FoBB has conceived a cunning plan to install a sculpture in Bradford’s City Centre and moves are afoot. Also, we’re working on sign-posts around the Bradford Beck and its tributaries to raise awareness and understanding of our watercourses.

Already in place across the city centre are 15 plaques, installed in the pavement, marking the route of Bradford Beck as it passes un-noticed and un-loved under Bradford. For more details see Marking the Beck website

Eh? What’s it about?

The first plaque marking the Beck’s route below the city centre.

The idea is to bring the Becks to the attention of Bradfordians. The project has four components (1) remove the remaining contaminated water signs put up in 1972, (2) design and put up new signs that identify the becks and give some of their history, (3) mark the course of the culverted becks, and (4) develop a website which allows people to interact and contribute to the body of growing knowledge about out beck system

Why is it important?

This is an easy to achieve project with a relatively modest cost but which would be very important in changing attitudes. It would increase the profile of the Becks and generate more interest in improving them. It would raise water awareness, and encourage more care, less litter and better reporting of problems. The Marking Bradford Beck website provides information to citizens and an educational resource. It enables people to feed their knowledge, stories and photos into a common resource. The project could provide opportunities for a design completion and for voluntary work to design and place the signs.


Bradford Council (Parks and Gardens, Neighbourhood Coordinators), local landowners, Aire Rivers Trust, Friends of Bradford Beck, and local companies have sponsored the Plaques Trail.

Timescale, cost and sources of finance:

A website for the project to mark the Beck’s route below the city was created over a couple of months for a nominal cost. Negotiating with landowners, designing, making and placing the signs to mark the Beck’s route under the city was achieved over 12 months. More signs are envisaged, including a sculpture on Tyrell Street which whill enable passers by to listen to the Beck below. A further 50 signs would enable most tributaries, bridges, culverts and paths to be marked. The signs would include QR codes for interaction with mobile phones. Basic signs (20×20 cm) are about £75 but larger or more interesting signs range up to £500 and beyond. The cost of installation would be variable depending on the location but £12,000 – 15,000 has to be added, so a set of 60 interesting signs could probably be designed, bought and installed for less than £20,000, and even less if volunteers were able to help. The cost of having a salaried officer to direct any activity would be extra if required.

Marking the culverts more distinctively, for example with road paint, would be more complicated and probably expensive and would probably take longer, but could be conducted alongside a “YellowFish” campaign to raise awareness of pollution risks.

First steps:

Design and build website: Done.

Set up a Steering Group and plan project. Done.

Seek funding and support in kind from local businesses. Done.

Design competition and community consultation about designs and places for signs. Done.

Make and place signs. Done.

Investigate options to mark culverted reaches.

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