The DIY Bradford underground scene has quite literally grown with the opening of Sunbridge Wells – a network of tunnels underneath the city centre.
Hidden for many years, these tunnels have been a nightclub, prison cells, an air raid shelter and a plumbers yard – amongst other things.
Now open as Sunbridge Wells (or Sunbridgewells as it’s also known), they’re an interconnected maze of bars, shops and eateries, all lovingly excavated and shaped by Bradford hero Graham Hall.
They have several entrances, and go underneath Sunbridge Road, Ivegate and Upper Millergate, extending four floors upwards into surrounding buildings via stairwells.
Every business in Sunbridge Wells is independent, which is a huge achievement considering Bradford city centre’s most recent big opening was a Westfield shopping centre.
The Broadway centre is very nice, as shopping centres go, but Sunbridge Wells is simply on another level (or four).
Here’s everything you can expect from a visit to Sunbridge Wells so far:
Sunbridge Wells opening hours
At the time of writing, the tunnels are open from 10am until 2am all week.
The shops are open from 10am until around 5pm, but these opening times can vary from shop to shop. The massage and wellbeing places tend to be open into the early evening.
Bear in mind this is the run-up to Christmas, so the opening hours of the tunnels in general and the individual businesses may change once we’re out of the festive season. We’ll update this as soon as we notice any changes.
What’s in Sunbridge Wells?
This is an ever-growing list, so keep an eye on it for new developments as new units open.
Food and drink
There are a variety of bars and places to eat in Sunbridge Wells, with talk of a full restaurant still on the horizon.
A traditional pub type bar, Wallers Brewery is the only bar on the bottom level and is proving to be one of the busiest.
It’s full of vintage equipment from the historic Rimmington’s Pharmacy in Bradford city centre, as well as a matchstick model of Cartwright Hall, giving you lots to look at. It also looks like they’ll be doing Sunday roasts very soon.
This tiny bar is decorated with hand-painted and very stylish 1920s artwork. This is the perfect place to share a bottle of champagne with friends.
Proving to be one of the most popular bars in Sunbridge Wells, Alibi has a comfortable but very high quality eclectic style, with plush chairs and cabinets along the walls, as well as framed pictures on the ceiling.
Alibi is open from 10am all week, from 9am on Saturday and from 11am on Sunday. It closes at 11pm Monday to Thursday, at 2am on Friday and Saturday, and at midnight on Sunday.
The Gin Bar
The smallest bar in the tunnels, the Gin Bar can also be accessed directly from outside, so smokers might prefer this one.
It’s just dark enough, and very cosy, with the bar itself tucked away in a tiny cave just off the seating area.
Laurel and Hardy Multimedia Bar
This is a real concept bar and is right at the top of the tunnels.
Black and white screens and a projector play Laurel and Hardy films around the edges of the bar, and the black and white tiled floor matches the big black and white reels of film painted on the walls.
Serving tea, coffee and snacks, Sarah’s is a friendly takeaway coffee shop with a single table outside in the tunnels if you want to sit down.
A relaxed, tapas restaurant at the top of the tunnels with a view over Sunbridge Road.
Sunbridge Lounge serves food Monday to Saturday from midday to 4pm and then from 5pm until 9pm, and on Sundays from midday until 6pm.
Local artist Glenn Hustler has set up his own shop in the tunnels selling original artwork as well as postcards, posters, badges, t-shirts and vinyl.
Hustler’s is open from 10am until 6pm every day.
The ultimate in Bradford glam, Skulep Boutique has fancy party wear and accessories for women.
The Little Shop of Soaps
Gifts for yourself and others can be found in the Little Shop of Soaps, which has an entrance from the tunnels as well as an entrance from Sunbridge Road.
The shop is closed on Sundays, but open from 9am every other day of the week. It closes at 5pm every day except Wednesday when it closes at 3pm, and Monday when it closes at midday.
At the time of writing, it wasn’t open yet, but there’s a sweet shop due to make an appearance very soon.
Massage therapists Espiritu have two units in the tunnels.
One is on the bottom floor and offers many different kinds of treatments, and another is tucked away elsewhere and offers massages in an incredibly cosy room with an electric fire and curtains for privacy.
They have a host of other treatments available and will be rolling out lots of wellbeing treatments as well as sessions and classes in the near future.
What’s still to come?
A wander around Sunbridge Wells reveals some still empty units, some have names above the doors already and some don’t, but no doubt they’ll be full before very long.
There are also five small wooden units along the main entrance tunnel which will no doubt soon host more pop-up style businesses who don’t need a lot of space.
We can’t wait to see what Sunbridge Wells looks like once it’s all full, but if it’s anything like what’s they’ve done so far it’s going to be a real national showcase for independent business.