Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Some good friends of mine have recently moved house from the south side of the city of Bradford to the north side, to an area called Heaton, not far down the road from Saltaire and Shipley. I visited them recently and we had a lovely circular walk, through some surprisingly unspoilt woodland and back to the residential area along the main street, Highgate.
Heaton used at one time to be a distinct village and then, as the city of Bradford grew, spread and effectively swallowed it up after the Industrial Revolution, it became an area where many wealthy industrialists built their grand houses. It is on a hill and from the edge of the village you get lovely views across the Aire valley to Shipley and Baildon. You may be able to make out the clock tower in Shipley market place. It's right in the centre of the picture, immediately above the trees. Saltaire is not visible, tucked away in the valley behind the trees to the left of the picture.
Do you remember the 'Sat-Nav is wrong' sign? You can see the houses where it was taken... a pinkish building, at the mid-left, in amongst the trees.
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Apparently it all started in Serbia before WWII, when couples in the town of Vrnjacka Banja started writing down their names on locks, to symbolically seal their love. The trend has spread to the bridges of Paris, that most romantic of cities... and apparently at least one couple decided the footbridge to Roberts Park in Saltaire deserved their declaration of eternal love. Lovers love them; many other people hate them for spoiling pretty or fragile bridges and the local authorities fight a losing battle to prevent the damage they do. It seems that the sheer weight of locks now on some of the Parisian bridges is a problem, never mind the aesthetics.
As for me, I'm afraid I'm too cynical. Love seems to me at best a hazardous, fragile enterprise. It needs space to grow and change. Best to come at it with a sense of lightness and freedom, rather than seeking to bind it. To love is to be vulnerable....
Monday, 17 June 2013
There are one or two places in Saltaire where wisteria blooms for a brief but glorious spell in the spring. This is perhaps the prettiest. It is in the inner courtyard of the Stables at the bottom of Victoria Road. This was where horses used to be looked after, in the days before motorised transport. Sir Titus Salt himself used to ride over from his home near Halifax to visit his mill. It's quite a long journey on horseback so no doubt he and the horse would have been glad to arrive. I wonder if the wisteria was there then? If so, it would have quite a tale to tell.
The stables and carriage house were converted to garages before being adapted by the late Jonathan Silver for residential use.
Sunday, 16 June 2013
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Someone at the History Club asked me if I had seen the lions at Saltaire's church.... and I had to confess that I hadn't. (Isn't it amazing how you can live in a place so long and think you know it, and yet still there is something new to discover?) Anyway, I resolved that as soon as possible I would go and search out these lions - and here is one of them. Do you see him, just peeping over the parapet?
Local legend has it that the lions guarding the Victoria Hall go walkabout around the village at night, so maybe this is one of them, prowling Saltaire URC's roof. It must be a good vantage point from which to survey the whole village; I like to think he's keeping watch.
Friday, 14 June 2013
The small town (or large village) of Marsden, surrounded on three sides by high Pennine moorland, has a rough beauty on a sunny day in spring. I think it must look a good deal bleaker in the rain or snow. The main A62 road through the town rises to cross the hills to the west on the way over to Manchester. In winter the road is often closed by snow, so that on the approach road there are permanent signs that can be switched on to warn travellers.
The fire station provides a base for the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team, volunteers who assist in searching for and rescuing people from the surrounding moors. The moors have a macabre reputation as being the burial place for the Moors Murder victims, infamous and shocking crimes committed in the 1960s by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, which received widespread coverage. One of the five children's bodies has never been found.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
Standedge Tunnel and its Visitor Centre are a short walk from the village of Marsden, not far from the rail station. The exhibition centre is housed in an old industrial building, originally thought to have been a warehouse, though recent research suggests it may have been an industrial works. There are display boards, photos and videos telling the story of the tunnel. The top floor 'Loft Space' is a creative work space for designers and makers, where people can meet up to chat, knit, crochet, sew, weave and spin. There is a small shop selling attractive craft items. Further down, by the tunnel entrance, Tunnel End Cottages, where canal workers used to live, now houses a café. There's a good children's play area too so it's a nice 'family day out' destination.
(I keep noticing that my photos, very crisp and sharp in my other programmes, look very soft - even blurry - on Blogger.. I hope it's not having another 'phase'! This one looks particularly terrible.)
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
(here). Its construction was initially so badly planned and executed that the excavations from each end were not going to meet up in the middle. In 1807, they had finally to involve the famous engineer Thomas Telford to sort it all out!
Inside the tunnel is very narrow, with only room for one boat to travel. It has a few wider passing places, but they had to have a system to control the barges travelling through. You can view the various different portions of the tunnel - rough rock, stone, original brickwork and more modern brickwork from when it was restored. You can also see shafts that connect the tunnel with the adjacent rail tunnel, built later. (The railway company bought the canal and used the canal tunnel to carry away the spoil from their excavations of the rail tunnel.) In my photo, you can see a train disappearing into the rail tunnel.
There is no towpath so boat-horses used to be walked up and over the moors, whilst the barges were 'legged through' by two men lying on their backs. With the tour boat's electric lights on, all seemed fine but when they switched them off it was pitch black and quite scary. I couldn't help but think of the weight of rock and earth above me! The 'leggers' would only have had candles for illumination. It took a good three hours to leg a loaded barge through, for which the professional 'leggers' were paid 1 shilling and 6 pence. (I photographed one of the pictures in the exhibition centre, as I thought it was so interesting. A bit naughty...I hope no-one minds!)
|Inside the tunnel, photographed by me from the tour boat|
|'Legging' a barge through the tunnel - a photograph of a photograph in the Tunnel's exhibition centre|
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
I had to go to Dewsbury the other day, to collect a new car-seat for my granddaughter to use when she visits. Never one to miss an opportunity, it seemed a good plan to travel a bit further to visit the Pennine village of Marsden, which I have long intended to explore. It is surrounded by the high Pennine moorlands and was a place from where lots of packhorse tracks crossed the moors to Manchester. The tracks were replaced in the 1700s by turnpike toll roads.
A boat, however, could carry the same load as 150 packhorses and so the trans-Pennine Huddersfield Narrow Canal was started around the end of the 18th century, part of a network of canals throughout the north of England. Its construction was beset by problems, related to the tough terrain and to lack of organisation. It took 17 years to build in the end, largely because it needed 74 locks along its 20 mile length, and because it required the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel ever built in Britain, the Standedge Tunnel.
The canal eventually enjoyed a few boom years - though the narrow tunnel was a huge bottleneck as barges had to queue up to be 'legged through'. The tunnel has no towpath and the boat-horses had to be walked over the moors to the other side.
With the coming of the railways, the canals gradually ceased to be used. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal fell into disrepair, parts of it were covered over or filled in. In 1974 enthusiasts set about the enormous task of restoring it and in 2001 the whole canal became navigable again.
Monday, 10 June 2013
Sunday, 9 June 2013
I attended the quarterly meeting of Saltaire History Club, in the Victoria Hall, this week. It's always interesting, both to hear the speakers and to meet local people with similar interests. Many of the keen core members do a great job of researching local history, presenting it and advising enquirers - and there are always people (often folk living abroad, whose family came from here) seeking to find out something about our historic village.
Topics presented at the meeting were:
an architectural sculptor, Abraham Broadbent (1868-1919), who was born and lived in Saltaire, whose work adorns the Cartwright Hall art gallery in Bradford as well as some famous buildings in London like the V&A;
a model industrial village called Marki, near Warsaw in Russian Poland, which was developed in the late 19th century by Bradford industrialists, the Briggs brothers, inspired by Saltaire. They wanted to develop a manufacturing base and a market for their wool cloth in Russia and eastern Europe;
research about World War I soldiers from Saltaire. It's hoped to develop a history trail through the village to commemorate these men.
A fascinating evening - and I was captivated by the late evening sunshine on the carved pillar outside the window.
Saturday, 8 June 2013
For some reason these trees make me think of ice-cream: pistachio and chocolate chip flavours! Aren't they glorious in their spring foliage? They are growing in a corner of Shipley College gardens, tended by their horticultural students. The local Council have planted several young trees, of a variety similar to the bright green one, around the new(ish) children's playground a few streets away. I think they will look spectacular when they mature.
Friday, 7 June 2013
I loved this pop of colour in a planter perched on a wall down in Saltaire village. The owner was tending his plants and must have recognised me from my photo on the blog, so we had a lovely little chat. Apparently I once posted a picture of a hanging basket that he had at the front of his house. I am never sure whether people will be pleased to see their homes and gardens pictured here, or whether they'll be annoyed and feel their privacy invaded. I do try to be respectful in the way I treat my subjects and not to give too much away that might be considered invasive. But in fact whenever I have met people who read my blog, they are invariably quite happy to be featured. (And, of course, if they weren't, I would quickly delete the offending post.)
Thursday, 6 June 2013
Joy enough to see a goosander on the canal in Saltaire, but to see one with a new brood - and to see them hitching a ride on mum's back - was really exciting. This little family created quite a stir as they sailed along, with lots of people trying to capture the scene on their phones and cameras. I didn't have a long enough lens to do a really good, sharp job and they were moving surprisingly fast but this snap isn't too bad.
I first noticed them in the channel beside the mill. When I came back from my walk a couple of hours later they had successfully
Goosanders are members of the sawbill family, with long serrated beaks for catching fish. They are not uncommon on the canal and rivers round here, but I have only ever seen them in the winter. To think that they are breeding locally is thrilling. They are such beautiful birds.