A Brief History

Bradford Circle for Foreign Languages was founded in the autumn of 1899 under the name of United Foreign Circles.  It was the amalgamation of the existing Cercle Francais, Deutscher Verein and Circulo Español.  The object of the club was to encourage the study of foreign languages with lectures and lively discussions, reading and conversation.

The inaugural meeting was held at the Yorkshire Penny Bank in North Parade on October 1.  An Italian section was added soon afterwards and a Russian section in 1916. 

In 1906 the Circle moved to larger premises in the Royal Arcade (later Busbys) in Manningham Lane.  A final move was made to its current premises at 10 Eldon Place in 1917.  The building was purchased with the help of a mortgage in 1926.

In 1918 the name of the Circle was changed to the Circle for Foreign Languages, modified to Bradford Circle for Foreign Languages after the Second World War.

Sections varied over the years. The Russian section disappeared, but the Italian section was relaunched in 1999 to mark the centenary. At one time there was even an English section to give members confidence in public speaking. Proposals for an Esperanto group were outvoted.

“The Circle has robbed the study of foreign languages of all its terrors,” wrote a trade correspondent in the local newspaper in 1924.  “It has provided a social atmosphere in which the student can find pleasant companionship and encouragement.” 

The same can still be said today.

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