LAST RESORT: Bradford

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The Independent Travel
Poor old David Hockney must be wondering if it is him. First his adopted home of Los Angeles gets torn apart by riots, now his West Yorkshire birthplace gets roughed up.

Northern England is not much like southern California, which is perhaps why Mr Hockney moved. I know which I prefer: Bradford enjoys a far greater diversity of history, culture and architecture. What is more, the people are nicer and not so weird.

You do not need a six-litre Ford Thunderbird to explore the metropolitan borough; a pounds 2.30 Day Rover does nicely, giving unlimited travel on buses and trains across West Yorkshire. One bus from Bradford centre wanders off through pretty Bronte country to Haworth, but the trains are more intriguing. They clatter through a cross-section of British industrial archaeology: from Victorian mills (dark, Satanic) to the tower of City Hall - a flamboyant, angelic, meticulous copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The Wool Exchange, not to be outdone, is Venetian Gothic.

Colour has long been an important issue in Bradford, especially to the Society of Dyers and Colourists, and the Colour Museum addresses questions such as why we do not like blue food; the reason given, fear of mould, is vividly illustrated by a plate of meat and blue veg.

Technicolor lunches aside, Bradford is a terrific place to eat. Britain's best range of Pakistani and Kashmiri food is complemented by sturdy Yorkshire pies, black pudding and mushy peas. The only indigestible thing about the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television is the length of its name. This huge complex traces images from the first blurred photographs to the technique of colour-separation overlay, where objects can be placed on an unrelated background. The museum may lose its supremacy as the biggest draw this side of the Pennines in a fortnight's time, with the opening of Transperience - the West Yorkshire Discovery Park (to be comprehensively reviewed in these pages on 1 July).

Of course, Bradford is not a picture of total perfection. Just as Los Angeles's heart is shredded by freeways, so the city centre is fragmented by an Escheresque network of dual carriageways. But a battle across four lanes of traffic is worthwhile to see the William Morris stained-glass windows in the city's cathedral.

These days, art has the upper hand over industry in Bradford. Sir Titus Salt's mill, the centrepiece of Saltaire, now envelopes the 1853 Gallery, devoted to the work of local boy David Hockney.

It is not at all like the J Paul Getty Museum in Malibu - it is better.

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