One of Bradford’s famous literary sons was the author and playwright J B Priestley, who was born in Mannheim Road, Bradford, on 13 September 1894. J B Priestley provided Britain with a rather strange morale-boosting symbol during the Second World War – a meat and potato pie. The pie which inspired Priestley had been a feature in the window of Arthur Roberts’s food shop in Godwin Street for around 40 years; it actually consisted of a pie crust over an empty pie dish, which concealed a mechanism that puffed steam out of holes in the crust at intervals. During the war Priestley broadcast a series of radio talks on Sunday evening, and one day he visited Bradford just after the window of Arthur Roberts’s shop had been blown off in an air-raid. Priestley happened to wander past the bomb-damaged shop and there, in the partly boarded-up window, was the pie, still puffing away and trying to entice shoppers to come in and buy. Priestley described the scene in his next radio broadcast: ‘a giant, almost superhuman meat pie, with a magnificent brown, crisp, artfully wrinkled, succulent-looking crust ... giving off a fine, rich, appetising steam to make your mouth water … a perpetual volcano of meat and potato … every puff defying Hitler, Goering and the whole gang of them’. It became one of Priestley’s best-known broadcasts, much to the annoyance of Mr Roberts, who soon grew tired of the crowds of people who came to see the famous, bravely defiant, pie.
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