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Roy Stroud OBE

Roy Stroud OBE

Roy Stroud OBE, recalls how his grandfather was the first Bradford Rabbi and his family's work in the famous Bradford textile industry.

How did you come to Bradford and why Bradford?

I was born in Bradford in 1920. My grandfather was the first rabbi in Bradford. He formed the Reform congregation, before there was an Orthodox one, but he was partially responsible for there being an Orthodox one too. My grandfather came from Germany as a young man in 1865 and he married subsequently my grandmother who came from Manchester. My father was a prominent man in the textile industry in Bradford, he was born in 1873, and he formed a company called Stroud Rowley with his great friend who was at technical college with him before the First World War. My father served in the First World War for four years, and after he was demobilised they started the business which became very successful and he exported to the rest of the World in the 20's and 30's and right up to the period in 1974 when the textile industry began to decline, and now the textile industry is really not so important in Bradford; but all that time from the 1870's onwards it had been a very important factor in the wealth of Bradford.

Has the Jewish community changed a lot from when you were younger?

Yes, there has been a very significant decline of the Jews in Bradford since the influx of Jews from Nazi Germany which built up the community quite considerably, but in the latter years many of them have died and they had their children but they have moved away to London and other cities; but now it has declined and there are very few left -- at it's height there might have been 1,500 or 2,000 Jews and now it is a matter of hundreds and declining all the time, very small indeed. A lot of the Jews that came from Germany settled in Bradford because they were in the textile trade in Germany and in Austria and were buying from the manufacturers in Bradford before. So they came to Bradford, being the centre of the textile trade in those days, and they built up close relations with the manufacturers here and they were largely responsible for building up the export trade of textiles to every country in the world, to what it became.

Tell me about your family background.

My grandfather had a position as rabbi here and my father started a textile business with his friend Rowley in 1919 after they came out of the War, and became very successful along with the growth of the textile industry. They became a public company in the 50's and sadly due to the decline of the industry as a whole the company doesn't exist any more. My own position was that after I left the army in 1946 I had to go back to the textile industry and resumed my training for the industry, but part time while I was working in my father's business. Subsequently he retired and I became chairman. The company was sold to other owners and I retired when I was 70 in 1979. I was chairman of the Wool Textile Industry's employer's organisation and also of the wool industry's research organisation, and of the Bradford and Yorkshire bench. I got married in 1947 and my wife and I have three sons and seven grandchildren; and we are a happy family and they all live quite near to us and so we see a lot of them. I was awarded the OBE for services to the war textile industry.

What are the big differences between Bradford in the past, and Bradford now?

Bradford over the centuries has been very good at welcoming immigrants from various countries, Poles, German refugees, and recently from Asian and West Indian countries and they have always settled in here and merged into the community very well indeed; and as I said Bradford has always been very welcoming place for immigrants; and they have become Bradfordians and members of the British community, and maintained their own religions and clubs but have been part of the city of Bradford and proud of it.

How do you find living in Bradford?

Well I have always been very happy living in Bradford and my parents and grandparents were, it has been a very welcoming city. I have nothing but good to say for this part of Yorkshire where I was always very happy and wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else.

Roy Stroud is sitting in the Photograph, in front of portraits of his Grandfather, Rabbi Strauss and his father, Oswald Stroud.

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