To emphasize the inauguration of the Edmund Cartwright Memorial Hall, the City of Bradford conceived the idea of an Exhibition, to be held on a grand scale, in the beautiful park which surrounded the site of the Memorial Hall. The aim was to illustrate the results achieved by the Textile Industry of the City and the neighbouiring area of West Yorkshire and to show the inventions made famous by Edmund Cartwright. Other branches of local industry were also represented.
Twenty-six acres of this well wooded park were enclosed for the Exhibition and a combination of slightly undulating land and a picturesque lake made it a very attractive site. As it was only one mile from the city centre, on the road to Bingley, and well served by trains, it was also accessible for the many visitors attending the exhibition.
The Industrial Hall overlooked the lake and from the front of this building the scenery was one of typical Yorkshire countryside, seen at its best. This Hall had a floor space of over 60,000 sq. ft. and was divided by a main aisle and six transepts, its construction was of wood, covered on three sides by fiberous plaster.
Down the main aisle was the finest display of Bradford Textiles ever seen, in the other sections were found exhibits concerned with Textile Machinery, Engineering, Sanitation and Locomotion. The Womens section had three divisions, Arts and Crafts, Education and Domestic.
At the end of a broad mall leading from the south end of the lake a large Concert Hall was erected to be used to encourage local talent and taste in musical art. The orchestra was arranged to accommodate some two hundred vocalists and one hundred instrumentalists. A fine organ, built by the London firm of Walker and Sons, was loaned to the exhibition and a continuous programme of recitals was provided by eminent local organists. A variety of musical entertainment throughout the exhibition included hand-bell ringers and glee parties. The Hall was used occasionally for special trades, lectures and conferences. The month of June saw a School's Exhibition and an Educational Conference and in July, a Grocers Exhibition and Conference was held.
Another feature of the exhibition, which was part of the Womens section, was the Model Hospital. This was fitted up to represent both the Domestic and the Industrial side of home nursing, showing the practical use of the day nursery for parents who were engaged in factory work. Nearby this exhibit was the Baby Incubator Institute which had been built and fitted out under the direction of the famous Dr. Erlich.
The Botanical section was arranged by the local society , assisted by the Kew Garden authorities, and comprised of specimens of plants connected with local industries and articles of every day use. Thes exhibits were arranges in two beds in the grounds and in two greenhouses.
The many other exhibits in the grounds included the pavilion of Messrs. Van Houten of cocoa fame; a Kiosk to provide the needs of the smoker and a Model Working Dairy. This was fitted out with the latest equipment for sterilizing and milk handling. The bridge across the lake was erected by Messrs. Briggs of Queensferry and the east entrance and the Mall were illuminated by gas supplied by the Corporation Gas department. All the electical installation was provided by Messrs. Steinthal of Bradford. The Fire Statiion at the Exhibition provided a necessary presence in view of the construction of many of the buildings and especially when it was reported at the time that the Somali villagers were in the habit of setting fire to their huts. Near to the main bandstand was the photogaphic studio of the official photographer to the Exhibition, Mr. Rosemont of Leeds.
The Exhibition management had tried to secure the services of a troupe of Ashanti but when difficulties arose they switched to a troupe of over 100 Somalis who had just finished a very successful tour of the continent. It was felt that this was no great loss because the Somalis were absolutely new to English audiences. The troupe consisted of male and female natives, including adults and children, with a native Chief and a Mullah. Native customs, pastimes, occupations and ceremonies were shown; and among the demonstrations wrestling and spear throwing were especially entertaining. A kitchen and school were included in the village, and metal workers, weavers, and other handicrafts were illustrated.
At previous exhibitions where naval displays were attempted the artist had to hark back to ancient history for his theme, but this time the organisers were not slowto take advantage of current political and military events and the Naval spectacle on the lake was intended to portray the navies of Japan and Russia. Hostilities had broken out between these two countries on 8th February 1904 and was to continue for just over a year, the conflict giving rise to numerous postcards unconnected with the subject of the exhibitions. All the latest Naval advances in destructive power were shown in perfect working models. Battleships, destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines and mines were used in the display and many of the models were electrically driven. These had been built by Thorneycroft and Co., and had previously formed part of the Great Naval Show at Earls Court. During the spectacle, ships carrying contraband were chased and sunk. Vessels were blown up by mines and torpedoed. Forts were shelled and houses burned, the whole giving a realistic representation of all the features of a naval combat.
The amusements included the Water Chute, a favourite of many exhibitions. Underneath the structure supporting the chute was a faithful representation of Old Bradford. The Palace of Illusions had been a success at the Paris Exhibition in 1900 and its designer, M. Mourin came over to personally supervise this attraction which consisted of a combination of electricity and reflecting mirrors. The Crystal Maze was a combination of a maze plus the popular and mirth-provoking distorting mirrors. The Gravity Railway, another good crowd drawer, was imported from the Cork Exhibition. Further attractions included a Rifle Range, Illuminations and a weekly fireworks display.