Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

As 2009 becomes 2010, I wish you all a very happy New Year. How many of you, like me, are saying "Gosh, it doesn't seem two minutes since the Millennium celebrations"? Another sign of middle-age, I guess! Anyway, whatever your thoughts, I hope you enjoy celebrating tonight.

This is the bar in Saltaire called 'don't tell Titus' (see my post of 26 July for the reason behind the name). It looks really attractive at night, with its warm lighting and glimpses of people inside chatting over drinks. I imagine it will be full tonight, though I shall be partying elsewhere.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Festive wreath

I spotted this beautifully festive wreath hanging on a door in Victoria Road, Saltaire - it made me feel very cheerful. But that's it for Christmas this year and we must now turn our focus to the New Year. The Noughties are over - the Tenties begin! (Has anyone decided what we're going to call the coming decade?)


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Snow scene

One more snow scene, just because it's pretty - though the snow has all but disappeared now. I've a feeling we might get some more before the winter is finished (probably in February when I'm due to travel down to Devon!)

The snow transforms the Aire valley into something reminiscent of a Christmas card. If you view this large and look closely, you can just see the tower of Saltaire URC behind the trees on the right. The prominent white building in the centre is Titus Salt School, a brand new upper/secondary school that opened in September 2008, to replace the former Salt Grammar School. (It really is white - that's not just the snow.)

Monday, 28 December 2009

Carols at Vicars

One evening just before Christmas the café in Saltaire called Vicars (see my blog of 22 September) hosted an evening of carols, with mulled wine and the most delicious mince pie concoctions I've ever tasted.. fruity and almondy and totally yummy. A few people were busily putting the finishing touches to Advent Window no 23 (see my post of 14 December) while the rest of us sang and chatted and partook of the refreshments.

The music was provided by a small brass ensemble, part of the famous Hammonds Saltaire Brass Band... and very good they were too. The band can trace their origins right back 150 years to 1855 when a brass band was formed as one of the amenities for the men of the village. They won 2nd prize in a competition at the Crystal Palace (London) in 1860 and a newpaper reported that the band was made up entirely of men in the employ of Sir Titus Salt - who had promised them a considerable sum of money if they won. They did win the contest the following year. They have had various name changes (and sponsorship)
since then - Hammonds Sauce Works Band, Yorkshire Building Society Band - and have this year reclaimed the name of Saltaire into their title.

Vicars/Gracespace now has its own website, where there is a photograph of the finished window, and a video of the band playing - do click the link and have a look and listen to the band.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Snowman

Someone made this cheerful fellow in the playground beside my house. Rather good, I thought. A classic snowman that could have walked out of the pages of a book.

Today most of the snow here has gone. Even in the space of a day the snowman has shrunk to a mere lump in the middle of the playground. Aw...

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Sledging

It's still really snowy here. I walked up the hill on Christmas Day, hoping to get some lovely shots of the snow-filled valley, but in fact it was very foggy at my intended vantage point. Somewhat lower down the slopes, there were quite a few people out sledging and ski-ing, which is something we can rarely do in this country on Christmas Day. I'm not sure whether they were working up an appetite for lunch or working off the effects of lunch. Either way, it beats snoozing in front of the TV. (Plenty of time for that later!)

Since today, the day after Christmas, is St Stephen's Day, the snow seems very apt, reminding us of the carol:
"Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen,
when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even."
The carol recalls a legend based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus, the Duke of Bohemia (907-935). How strange that we should be singing about him all these hundreds of years later.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Following the star

There are over 2000 miles and over 2000 years between the subject of today's photo and Saltaire today, Christmas Day 2009. But it is arguable whether Saltaire would have existed in the way it does without the link.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, visiting key Christian sites in the area around the Sea of Galilee, and then spending several days in Jerusalem, a city of enormous spiritual significance for Christians, Muslims and Jews. It was a fascinating experience and I would love to go back, as I felt I only scratched the surface of what is a very complex area, both historically and politically.

My picture was taken in the Grotto of the Nativity, a rectangular cavern beneath the ancient Church of the Nativity in Manger Square in Bethlehem. It shows the silver star which marks the spot where Christ is believed to have been born. The inscription, in Latin, reads:" Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born". Fifteen lamps hang above the star, belonging to different denominations of the Orthodox church - Greek, Armenian and Catholic. This place has been honoured as the site of Jesus' birth since at least 200 AD.

I find it mind-blowing to think that one child's birth, one man's brief ministry so far from here and over 2000 years ago, has shaped so much of the world that I know (though I recognise that the Christian influence over the years has been, sadly, not all for good across the world). Sir Titus Salt, the founder of Saltaire, was a devout Christian man whose faith (as well as his business acumen) undoubtedly spurred him in his vision for the creation of Saltaire. Ironically, it was just after Christmas (29th December 1876) that Sir Titus died. According to his biographer, his strong faith was a source of tremendous comfort during his final illness and some of his last words were: "How kind He is to me."

May the blessing of the Christ Child rest on you and on those you love today. Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Waiting...

Ah, Christmas Eve and what is there to do but wait...? (Wrap presents, stuff the turkey, last-minute shopping...OK, plenty to do then!) But, since I was a child, Christmas Eve has been a day of waiting and hoping, with barely concealed impatience. I remember once, going to bed and thinking: "I wish I could just close my eyes and open them again and it would be Christmas morning.." And, guess what? I closed my eyes and opened them again - and it was Christmas morning! Magic! And who can forget that exciting sensation of a heavy sock filled with goodies, at the foot of the bed?

My friend's young boys have been excitedly anticipating "Christmas Steve", as they call it! (My daughter commented drily that Christmas Steve sounds like a bloke whose tie has a red-nosed reindeer on it and plays 'We wish you a merry Christmas" endlessly!)

These days, for me, the whole festival has much less excitement and many more mixed emotions. But still there is the sense of waiting, and I find it's a helpful focus to walk up to church for the Midnight Service and recall just what Christmas is all about:

‘For to us a child is born…and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’
Isaiah 9: 6

Wishing you a joyful, peaceful Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Salts Mill at Christmas

The high, barrelled ceiling of the 1853 Gallery in the West Mill (Salts Mill, Saltaire) allows this magnificent Christmas tree, one of several throughout the Mill. The scent of pine mingled with the fragrance of the lilies (there are aways huge vases of lilies in the Gallery) and the tastefully Christmassy background music makes for a pleasant shopping and browsing experience. The Gallery stocks artists' materials, cards and art books, as well as displaying the large collection of Bradford-born artist David Hockney's work. I can get stuck in there for hours, looking through the wonderful 'coffee table' books of photographs.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Red boots

There is a new shop opened in Salts Mill. It's called Joules and it sells really colourful casual clothes and accessories. We hadn't been in there two minutes when a pair of bright red wellies leapt out and attached themselves firmly to my daughter. (That's her Christmas gift money spent!) A navy, red and white rugby shirt affair tried the same trick on me - but I managed to escape without it...

It's worth a look if you want something cheerful and a bit different. The clothes seem to be good quality and are averagely priced for that kind of thing. The shop takes a bit of finding if you approach from the Saltaire end of the Mill. It's on the third floor - through the café and opera sets and the antique shop (so you have to be a bit determined, to bypass all those interesting things and actually get to the shop). If you arrive from the car park entrance it's easier to locate. It's worth a visit.

I anticipate an outbreak of colourful wellies on the streets in West Yorkshire this winter - down with boring black and green!


Monday, 21 December 2009

Roofline

I deliberately haven't featured many photos of Roberts Park in Saltaire on my blog thus far. The Park is currently undergoing a major renovation of both the structural aspects and the planting. Hilary Taylor Landscape Associates (HTLA), historic landscape consultants, have been contracted by Bradford Council to plan and oversee the work. The restoration is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund's 'Parks for People' programme and should be completed in 2010.

Every time I visit the park I see evidence of progress being made, and the orange tape, netting and barriers move around a bit more. Today's photo shows the roofline of one of the stone shelters at the end of the main promenade, which has been cleaned and repaired. The snow covering made an intriguing textural pattern.


Sunday, 20 December 2009

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...


This is my favourite stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool canal - compare this picture with the one I posted in June, taken at more or less the same spot. I enjoyed a walk through the snow down to the canal and into Roberts Park, followed by a browse round Salts Mill. (Both Saltaire and the Mill were heaving with people - it's obviously a very popular venue for people doing last-minute Christmas shopping.) Then back home for a cup of tea and a mince pie. What more could a girl want....

(Actually, I wanted so much more from the Copenhagen summit on climate change... how easily we argue and how hard it seems to be for us to trust and help each other.
But I shall not spoil a pleasant day by thinking too much about that.)


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Snow!

The snow arrived on Thursday night. Love it or hate it, it's pretty. I always think Saltaire URC looks a bit like a wedding cake when it's snowy.

I was cooped up at work most of the day on Friday - but if the snow stays over this weekend, as seems likely, then I am looking forward to some crunchy walks and to taking lots of photos capturing how different everything looks. (I could stockpile a few years' worth of potential Christmas card illustrations).

The downside to the snow is the disruption even a small amount causes. I was supposed to be going out for a Christmas meal with workmates last night, but that was cancelled. This area is on the edge of the Pennines, so it's generally quite hilly. You can understand people not wanting to get stuck halfway up a lane on their way home from a night out. Though funnily enough, it's often the people who live lower down who don't make it into work. Those who live in the more remote parts are much better organised, with sturdy 4x4s and snow tyres. Personally, I find two feet in good boots work as well as anything in the snow (but then most of my life is conveniently organised into about one square mile in total, which can easily be walked).

Friday, 18 December 2009

Advent window No 9

I found Saltaire's Advent Window number 9 at the bottom of Albert Road, in the bedroom window of the house featured in my blog on 14 September - which perhaps goes some way to explaining the artistic merit of the window. From the outside it's difficult to tell how the window has been created - whether paint on the glass, or painted paper. It could be tissue paper? Anyway, it's a lovely snowy scene with what looks to be a charcoal-burner or some kind of fire. I thought at first it was a cottage, but on closer inspection it isn't. Very Christmassy... to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway.

Look back a few days to 14 December for another colourful window.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Foggy day, Saltaire

I'm not generally fond of the dull, damp, misty weather we get so much of in winter in England. I'd rather have a crisp, cold, frosty day. But the fog adds a lot of atmosphere to Saltaire. This view of Albert Terrace, one of the few remaining cobbled streets in the village, could almost have been taken 150 years ago. Normally you would be able to see the chimney of Salts Mill, right at the end of the street, but on this morning the fog was so thick it blotted out the chimney altogether. The street lamp is sadly no longer a gas lamp but has been converted to electric.

I must admit to a bit of Photoshop trickery on this one, airbrushing out the double yellow lines and burglar alarms. But I think the end result vindicates that.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Great café - nice shop attached!

Saltaire and its local area has a number of attractive, independent stores, of the kind that attract visitors as much as (perhaps more than) local people. I'm not one of those women who was 'born to shop' and my local shopping tends to be functional rather than frivolous. So it was with unaccustomed pleasure that I met a friend for a coffee, a chat and a browse in Home & Garden on the main Bradford road. The shop has been there a while, though I think the coffee-and-cakes part is relatively new. It's a veritable treasure-trove of interesting and attractive things for the home and garden - most of which you could manage without, but much of which is extremely covetable, if you care about making your home beautiful, stylish and a bit different.

Garry Faulkner, the owner, obviously has a brilliant eye for design. The merchandise itself is beautiful and the way the shop is displayed, over three floors, is wonderful. At this time of year it's brimming with unusual Christmas gifts and decorations. The basement is full of statuary and attractive stuff for the garden, and there are pictures, lighting, mirrors and all manner of pretty and practical items for every room in the home. Highly recommended if you want to browse happily for an hour or so, or are looking for something special and unusual.


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Walking Nativity

It's the 100th anniversary of the founding of St Peter's Church, Shipley this year (the church I go to). We have had various events and celebrations throughout the year. Last Sunday we did something we had never tried before - "A Walking Nativity". This involved a walk of about a mile, from church. We followed the Star and stopped every so often to sing a Christmas carol and meet characters from the Bible (played by members of our Youth Group), who enacted scenes from the Nativity story. We saw the Angel Gabriel telling Mary she was going to bear a child, saw Joseph and Mary turned away from the Inn, met shepherds and Wise men and finally arrived at a barn where we found Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus in a manger. An end of sorts - but really just the beginning....

It was lovely and somehow - though there must have been about 200 of us of all ages, adults and children, doing the walk - everyone managed to see and hear and join in the carols. We ended with refreshments in the lovely old oak-framed barn, which is huge - similar to the one on my blog of 1 October - and, happily, belongs to members of our congregation.

I'm glad to be able to include this photo, for three reasons: It reminds us, in the midst of shopping and food, baubles, Santa and plastic snowmen - that Christmas has a deeper meaning. It's also a tribute to our young people - a lively and lovely group, deeply committed to each other and to their faith; youngsters with strong values and tons of creative flair. We see so many negative reports of 'youth', but we do well to remember that the vast majority of young people - those of faith and those with none - are decent, thoughtful, caring and creative. Thirdly, to celebrate all that our churches contribute to society, often unnoticed and unremarked. And the wonderful cross-generational mixing that churches still provide.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Advent window No 4

Although Saltaire's streets are not heavily festooned with Christmas lights, what there is is quite tasteful, I think. For the past three or four years, we have also had the tradition of 'Advent Windows': every night in December up to Christmas, another window - in a house, or in one of the public buildings - is decorated and lit and added to the total. So by Christmas Eve there are 24 different windows lit throughout the village.

The hard part is to find them all - I had a walk around this weekend and only managed to find four. This is one of them, in a house on Victoria Road. I will try and track a few more down, as they can be small works of art in their own right and the effect of them
in the dark streets can be quite magical.

(Again, best viewed large to see the detail)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas tree

I spent a happy hour or so wandering round Saltaire taking photos of the lights and Christmas decorations....not that there are many. We don't go in for too much bling round here. The Victoria Hall has its Christmas tree, as you see, and a few of the shops have lights, but that's about all. Nevertheless, Saltaire is quite atmospheric at night. Somehow it has a warm, cosy glow - I'm not sure how much that has to do with the streetlights in the village itself and how much is the 'sodium glare' effect of being in close proximity to Bradford and Leeds. Children round here must think the normal colour of the night sky is orange!

(Another photo that's best viewed large.)

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Sir Titus Salt

This statue, of the man whose vision and drive resulted in the building of the village of Saltaire and its vast mill, can be found in Roberts Park in Saltaire. Strangely (I always think) he has his back turned to the village and his mills (in order, I suppose, to face the main promenade in the park, up and down which the Edwardians would no doubt have strolled at leisure on sunny weekends).

Born in 1803 in Morley near Leeds and dying in 1876 at his home Crow Nest near Halifax, he was Mayor of Bradford in 1848 and briefly an MP. Titus Salt was awarded a baronetcy by Queen Victoria in 1869 (and thus became Sir Titus).

This bronze statue was erected in 1903, to commemorate the centenary of Sir Titus's birth and the 50th anniversary of the opening of Salts Mill. Commissioned by Mr James Roberts, the managing director of the Mill at the time (and the man after whom the park is named), it was cast by Francis Derwent Wood RA (1871-1926).

The stone plinth has bronze bas-reliefs of the alpaca and angora goats, whose fleece was the basis of Salts Mill's initial success and of Sir Titus's personal fortune.


Friday, 11 December 2009

The Tower House

Here's another photo of 47 Titus Street (see also yesterday) with its unusual glazed tower. As you can see, it is a very large house, probably one of the largest in Saltaire. It sits almost at the centre of the village, which has led to speculation that the tower was a look-out of some kind, perhaps a fire watch tower. But no-one really knows for sure. It's doubtful if you can see the whole of the village from here.

The 1871 census tells us that the occupants of 47 Titus Street at that time were Sergeant-Major Thomas Hill and his family. He was the commissionaire and security officer at Salts Mill, and had served for 21 years in the Indian army, rising to the highest rank of non-commissioned officer, before - presumably - retiring and taking the job at the mill. I can't believe that his job required him to sit in the tower keeping an eye on the village...but you never know!

I wonder if the present occupants use the tower? Perhaps a place to store Christmas decorations!

PS: Did a bit more research today - just realised
our local library might have copies of the census - and it does! (Marvellous resource!). Thomas Henry Hill was 53 in 1871. He was born in Bristol (SW England) and had been a Conductor of Ordnance in HM Indian Army. He was a Chelsea pensioner (meaning that he was either injured in army service or had served more than 20 years and received a pension). His wife Caroline Anne was 48 and had been born in the 'E Indies, Bengal' so he must have met her during his Army days. They had four children living with them: Emily Caroline aged 19 and Amelia Maria (17) both pupil teachers, and Edmund Ernest (13) and William Henry (11) both at school. All the children had been born in either India or Burma. Isn't that interesting?

Thursday, 10 December 2009

47 Titus Street

I'm almost halfway through my year's challenge of 'a photo a day' on my blog...and I am astonished at how much I have managed to capture in photos - and even more, how much of Saltaire I still haven't got round to featuring. This unusual tower, for example....

This house is No 47 Titus Street and lies almost in the centre of the village, at the corner of Titus Street and Upper Ada Street. A large house, it has this unique glazed tower on its roof. The purpose of the tower is not entirely clear, but it may have been a fire watch tower. Or perhaps it is simply another decorative device. It closely mirrors the shape of the twin towers on the south front of Salts Mill (see 29 October)

This photo, incidentally, also shows how steep the valley sides are, plunging down to the River Aire (and the canal) at the bottom, with Saltaire hugging one flank and the fields and moors of Shipley Glen over the other side. The hill is called Hope Hill and the farm near the crest is Hope Farm. The houses halfway down the hillside are part of Baildon.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Red sky in the morning...

A couple of weeks ago (November 26) I posted a photo I took one day on my way to work, of the early morning sunlight on the mills. It was a picture that lots of people seemed to like; the light was glorious that day. Out of interest I thought I'd post another photo taken from the same spot at about the same time in the morning, last week. It looks quite different in the dawn light. The sun was just rising and casting a pinkish hue in the sky; the moon still visible as you can see. Still a peaceful scene, with not a breath of wind to disturb the reflections in the canal.

There is an old saying: 'Red sky at night, shepherds' delight; red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning' - or sailors', depending how close to the sea you happen to be. It foretells the day's weather - but even if it heralds bad weather, a red sky always looks attractive to me.

As I took this photograph, a young lad on his way to school stopped and looked expectantly over the canal bridge, thinking, I suppose, that I was finding something really interesting to snap! I said, "It's just the pink sky, you don't see it like this very often..." and he grinned and said, most sincerely, "Yes, it's gorgeous!" before going on his way. A small encounter that really made my day!


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Chimney pots

Looking up at the rooflines in Saltaire is just as fascinating as looking at the buildings themselves. There must be as many different styles of chimney pots as there are houses. They don't look that big from ground level but I have two (as sculpture!) in my garden and they are nearly as high as my waist and a good foot across (ie: 30cm, for those that don't do old-fashioned measures). These particular pots are on the roof of Vicar's café (see my post of 22 September).

Originally the houses in Saltaire would have had coal-burning ranges for cooking, and coal or wood fires in the sitting rooms, and in some cases bedrooms too. Then it was decreed that people had to burn 'smokeless fuel', and anyway the hard work and dust entailed by real fires meant that most people bricked them up and installed gas fires and, eventually, central heating. I doubt there are many - if any - houses in Saltaire that now have working fireplaces. Mostly the chimneys just serve as flues for the gas fires.

I thought this was perhaps a relevant photo, as we wait to hear the outcome of the climate change talks in Copenhagen....

Monday, 7 December 2009

Saltaire Boathouse


In early November I featured a series of photos of Shipley Glen, including some of the attractions and rides in the Pleasure Grounds. I am delighted to say that Yorkshire Film Archive Online have recently released an incredible piece of film showing Shipley Glen on Easter Monday 1910, when around 200,000 people visited the Glen. Do click this link and have a look at it. It's wonderful in showing what this area was like then, and in conveying something of the atmosphere and excitement.

As well as some footage of the Glen and the amazing rides, the film also shows people streaming down Victoria Road in Saltaire, and a pleasure boat on the River Aire just beside the Saltaire boathouse. The Boathouse is still here on the riverbank opposite Roberts Park. It now runs as a bar and restaurant and has recently been completely rebuilt following a fire.
There is a beautiful photo of how it used to look before the fire, on Pamela and Patrick Reynolds website Home Life Images.

In Victorian/Edwardian times this part of the river was wide enough to allow boats to turn round. The park is currently being extensively renovated, including removing vegetation which had started to choke the river and you can now see much more clearly how it once looked.


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Winter sunshine, Saltaire

About a quarter-mile west along the canal from the centre of Saltaire, a road rises up over the railway bridge, giving this elevated view of Saltaire across the fields. I took this picture last weekend; the low winter sun was catching the major buildings and really making them stand out. From left to right you can just see: the Leeds-Liverpool canal, the New Mill tower, the church tower, Salts Mill (with one of the large houses on Albert Road in front of it) and Salts Mill chimney. In some ways it's a pity the railway line spoils the beauty - but on the other hand Saltaire probably wouldn't have been built here if the railway hadn't been here first. It was the proximity to rail transport, the canal and the water supply from the River Aire that made Titus Salt choose this place, in the 1850s, as the location for his mill and village.

(This photo is best viewed large).

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Unidentified Flying Object


I have seen this little duck several times now, up and down the Leeds-Liverpool canal around Saltaire. I haven't a clue what sort it is. It's certainly not a familiar British duck so I can only conclude that it's an 'escape' from a park or collection of waterbirds. It's very pretty, with a small, attractive head and unusual mottled plumage. Its beak is dark and rather small. It hangs around with the mallards and seems to have started to believe it is one! It wasn't in the least afraid of me, and let me get quite close to take its photo, which may be another reason to think it has escaped from a collection where the birds are used to human contact. Anyway, if anyone has lost it, I last saw it near Hirst Mill swing bridge.


Friday, 4 December 2009

Lots of water!

We've had a lot of rain in the past few weeks in the UK, especially in the west of the country. Cumbria has been particularly badly hit, with big floods and bridges washed away. It hasn't been quite so bad here in Yorkshire, but everywhere is a bit soggy. I walked along the River Aire to the weir just outside Saltaire, to see how it looked. As you can see, the river is in full spate, but it has not (as yet!) burst its banks.

Just at this spot (as you look at this photo, it's behind you - as they say in pantomime!) is the headquarters of the local rowing club, and you often see boats practising just up from the weir... but not in this weather! The mill opposite is a small mill called Hirst Mill, now converted into a house. (I'm not sure I'd like to live there at present.)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

'The Cathedral of Congregationalism'

Most pictures of Saltaire United Reformed Church show it from the front, looking down the drive (as in my post for 3 July). This view from the southeast is slightly less familiar. It is one of the small joys of wintertime: that new and unexpected views open up when the trees lose their leaves and you can see through the tracery of branches. It's especially satisfying with regard to the church, because the south side obviously gets most of the light, but is hard to capture for much of the year.

The church was completed in 1859, commissioned by Titus Salt as part of his 'model village'. It is one of a number of magnificent churches built in this part of England around that time by Yorkshire's Victorian textile paternalists, who were eager to see communities follow a Christian way of life. It is a most imposing edifice, with its six huge Corinthian columns supporting the great tower. It's equally grand inside (especially considering it is a non-conformist church) - see my posts of 22 June and 26 October. It started life as Saltaire Congregational Church - and earned the title 'the Cathedral of Congregationalism.'


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Through a cat's eyes


I just happened to be passing Saltaire URC (United Reformed Church) the other day when I noticed this cat sitting, taking in the view. It is obviously someone's pet, as it has a red collar. Maybe it lives in the Stable cottages alongside the church. When it noticed me taking the photo, it stalked off in the way cats do - no posing and smiling for the camera! Anyway, who can blame it for gazing at this lovely scene. Even on a cold winter day, the church has a unique beauty and grandeur.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Santa called...

So, it's December 1st and everyone's now counting down to Christmas. I like this season in Saltaire. We get a lot of visitors who come to explore our interesting and individual shops, which make such a change from the usual high street stores. There are frequent craft fairs and suchlike in the Victoria Hall too.

The shops in Saltaire's Salts Mill sell all manner of lovely things. I'm a great fan of the bookshop, but I also enjoy browsing around 'The Home Shop' on the second floor. It sells kitchenware, glassware, furniture and all sorts of beautiful,
stylish and swanky things for the home (generally at a swanky price too!) In many ways it's as much a design museum as a shop. It's the kind of shop you visit looking for a wedding present for someone... and end up with something for your own home that you shouldn't really have bought 'cos it was a bit expensive - but what the heck!

Among their Christmas stock this year, I spotted these 'reindeer scented candles' - presumably just the thing all parents need to convince their kids that Santa has really visited. ("What's that funny smell, Mum?") I had a quick sniff and I can reliably inform you that reindeers smell pretty much like strawberries....


Monday, 30 November 2009

Saltaire's Almshouses

People are always going on about 'Monochrome Monday' and suchlike... I've still not sussed how you join in these blogfests, but it's Monday, so here's one of my few monochrome images.

Sir Titus Salt had 45 almshouses built on Victoria Road, Saltaire in 1868. These were to provide accommodation for the aged and infirm, initially selected by Sir Titus himself and later by a board of trustees. Residents lived rent free and received a weekly pension. The almshouses are arranged in a rectangle around a formal garden, named Alexandra Square (after Alexandra of Denmark, the very popular young Princess of Wales at that time). The architecture has Italianate features in common with the rest of Saltaire, but leans towards the Victorian Gothic, with pointed arches and rock-faced stone. Incidentally, the oft-repeated motif of two arches and a roundel can be seen here too (see my post of 5 September).

It is, in principle, a very attractive part of Saltaire - the one and two-storey almshouses, whilst quite ornate, are charming. Sadly, it seems a rather neglected area these days. The trees
(including horse chestnuts, willow and some evergreens), which once must have been very attractive, are now enormous and cut out a lot of light as well as hiding the almshouses from view. (The birch in the picture, for example, should surely never have been allowed to root so close to the house wall?) The grass can't grow properly under the trees and is sparse and untidy, the roses are straggly, the pavements are being forced up by the tree roots. Even though Victoria Road is the main thoroughfare through Saltaire, this section is badly lit and very dark at night. Overall I think the area has a very gloomy, sad feel to it. As far as I know, that the cottages are now mostly in private ownership and some of them could do with a bit of attention.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Orange berries, grey door

I spotted another pale grey door, this time at the top end of George Street in Saltaire. Grey must be one of the Saltaire Conservation Area 'approved colours'. I have taken quite a liking to this shade. It looks really attractive with these orange berries draped around it. I think this plant is some kind of cotoneaster. It has so many berries - does that foretell a harsh winter? It looks quite Christmassy, doesn't it - and I suppose we should be turning our thoughts in that direction. Saltaire (thankfully) doesn't go in for Christmas lights strung up everywhere - but I hope to show you a few hints of Christmas from around the village in the next few weeks.


Saturday, 28 November 2009

Grey gate


Here's a pretty little 150 years old Saltaire cottage, this one somewhere in the middle of George Street (one of the longest streets, which runs north-south through the village).

It is inevitably a greater challenge in the wintertime to keep up 'a photo a day', at least in this neck of the woods. When I set out for work it's dark; when I come home from work it's dark...so that only leaves weekends for photography and even then the weather can be awful. (I realise this isn't such a problem for all you retired bloggers...can't wait to join you!) So I'm going to be raiding my archives sometimes for pictures taken on more photogenic days. I think it's lovely to be cheered up by sunshine and flowers when it's dull and miserable outside.

I particularly liked the combination of colours here - that soft grey paint with the greens and purply pinks. The gardens in Saltaire may be small but people usually make the most of them. They've even squeezed in a little bench here, so you can sit with your coffee and a newspaper and idly watch the world go by.


Friday, 27 November 2009

A taxing business.....

On the opposite side of the canal from where I took yesterday's photo, you find this building. It is the next-door neighbour to Saltaire's New Mill - with only a large car park in between them. It's much more modern in style than anything else in the area, though it doesn't sit too badly within its locale in my opinion, as it nestles fairly low down on the riverbank.

Anyway, what the building lacks in charm it makes up for in importance...because this, folks, is where all your hard-earned cash ends up, at least if you are a UK taxpayer. It is the government's (HM Revenue & Customs) main banking centre for the whole of the UK. All the tax and VAT paid by individuals and businesses comes here to be processed and banked. It has a highly-automated system for opening envelopes, scanning, photographing and sorting cheques, VAT forms and correspondence and then making sure the money goes to the right places.

I don't suppose many of us actually like paying taxes - but without this centre, hospitals would grind to a halt, teachers wouldn't be paid and civilisation as we know it may well crumble...So keep on smiling and paying up!


Thursday, 26 November 2009

Morning light

At this time of year the early morning light can be fabulous (at least, when it's not raining, which it often is)....Though as I write that I am thinking, hmm, maybe it's fabulous all the year round - except that I don't often see it. It's just at this time of year that the arrival of daylight coincides with me walking to work. Anyway, one particular morning recently I took this photo of some of the old buildings by the Leeds-Liverpool canal, with Salts Mill and its chimney in the background. The sky was full of quite stormy clouds but the low sun found its way through, giving this real glow to the stonework. There is often a boat moored in this spot, as it is one of the designated overnight moorings - and that just adds to the charm.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A very useful hole


This is a photo of a very useful hole in the wall of a house in Saltaire. Anyone know what it's for? Clue 1: these holes are only found in the walls of the houses that have doors that open straight onto the street. Clue 2: we do not have giant mice in Saltaire!



Answer: they're for milk bottles. At least, as far as I know, that's the ingenious reason behind them. In bygone days, milk was delivered daily to each house by the milkman - in returnable glass bottles. Of course, the glass bottles (full or empty, waiting to be collected again) were a bit of a hazard to passers-by. The pavements in some of the streets are quite narrow and not very well lit at night, so milk bottles would have been a sitting target for
unwary pedestrians, vandals or drunks (of which I'm sure there were a few, despite Sir Titus Salt's rules for his tenants). So some of the houses at the top end of the village (ie: those built later, as the village grew) have the refinement of these neat little recesses to stack the bottles in.

At any rate, that's what I have always understood the holes to be for. If anyone has a different theory, please let me know!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Wall picture

Walking through Shipley (the small town in which Saltaire sits) I passed this wall picture, painted on the gable end of a row of terraced houses. It caused quite a lot of controversy when it was first unveiled in 2002, but I guess people have got used to it by now. Created as part of Bradford's (unsuccessful) bid to become a European City of Culture, it was painted by a German artist Osman Bol, along with Amerjeat Kaur and Shaun Fagan of Metro Arts (a council-run arts project). At first glance you would think it was a local scene showing Salts Mill and the canal. In fact the scene is supposed to have elements of both Shipley/Saltaire and Hamm, which is Bradford's 'twin town' in Germany, and is an artistic rather than a literal view. The children depicted are the children who lived in the house at the time.


Monday, 23 November 2009

Salts Village Bakery

As I was walking around Saltaire in the fog early on Saturday, I thought how enticing the bakery looked, with its warm lighting and the fresh, morning stock of loaves and croissants in the window. I have often thought that at the weekend I should do as the French do and nip out for fresh supplies before breakfast and then relax with a large milky coffee and brioches. Somehow I never get round to doing that. I do, however, enjoy the bakery's produce. I can particularly recommend a local speciality called Yorkshire Curd Tart, which is a variation on a cheesecake, traditionally made with the curds left over from cheese-making and enhanced with spices and currants.


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Fog


My fellow blogger Clueless in Boston speculated that the top of the chimney of Salts Mill must disappear sometimes in the fog. How right she - apologies, he - is! And just to prove it, since it was foggy yesterday morning, I ran out to take a photo to demonstrate the phenomenon. Actually, although it was pretty murky it wasn't especially cold, so I enjoyed wandering round seeing how different everything looked. Saltaire in the fog is particularly atmospheric. And thankfully these days fog isn't toxic like it was in the 19th century when it was laden with soot.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Six Days Only

My walk last Sunday took me through a hamlet known locally as Six Days Only. Its other name is Heaton Royds, and the picture shows Royds Hall Farm on Shay Lane. I didn't know much about it but I am indebted to the website of HH Sales Ltd, a dealer in philatelic literature, who have premises in the Barn adjacent to the farm, for much of the following fascinating information:

The farmhouse is Jacobean, built in 1632 - which was the reign of Charles I, a time of great political turbulence in England. Apparently the property has remained in the ownership of the same family ever since. The name Heaton Royds comes from the Old English: Heah Tun means a high farmstead, and Rod a clearing. Shay Lane comes from the old word Sceaga - a copse (or small wood)...so the whole means 'the high farmstead in the clearing in the copse'.

The equally interesting local name, Six Days Only, apparently dates back to a time when one of the cottage dwellers sold nettle and root beer and garden produce but would not sell on the Sabbath, and put up a sign to say so! Eventually the name stuck.


Correction:
January 2014 - it seems I got this information a bit wrong. My photo does show Royds Hall Farm but the information I have recounted actually pertains to the farmhouse on the other side of the lane. I have been contacted by the owner of the house shown in this photo who says the following:

I live at Royds Hall Farm (with my husband and family) in Heaton Royds, otherwise known as Six Days Only.

I just thought I ought to bring to your attention that the information you've put on the website for Six Days Only is misleading. This is down to a couple of factors. Firstly, Royds Hall Farm was formerly listed as 'Heaton Royds' in 1952 and the information you write about (from our neighbour, H.H. Sales Ltd.) is about his property which is Heaton Royds Farm with the date stone 1632 and still belongs to the Dixon family. 

Secondly, the name 'Royds' may not come from the meaning 'a clearing' because there was a Mr. Thomas Rodes living in this area during the time of King Richard II (we know this because he was paying tax in 1379). We also know that there was a choice of ways to spell names - and names were often associated with the people who lived in that place. Again, we know that his great-grandson spelt his name 'Roids' and then a further generation 'Rhodes'. We have been told Royds Hall Farm was a timber framed house which was later 'encased in stone', so the history goes back further than 1632.

I know that you begin your blog by saying that "the picture shows Royds Hall Farm on Shay Lane. I didn't know much about it but ...." and it goes on to speak about the information you took from a website, but it reads as though the barn is adjacent to our house, which it is not, when in fact it is adjacent to Heaton Royds Farm, the house opposite.

It is also worth noting that Royds Hall Farm and 3 other properties are in the 'Heaton' district, whereas the Dixon cottages, Heaton Royds Farm and Barn are all in the 'Shipley' district!

If it's any consolation, the eminent historian William Cudworth also does a misleading piece in one of his books, showing a drawing of Royds Hall Farm and proceeds to write about the Dixon family as if they owned the house, and Bradford Council recently did a country walk around here and again gave the wrong information. 


So I stand corrected and I am indebted to the lady for taking the trouble to get in touch.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Sunny path

We had storms and gales in the UK last weekend (and continuing..). It was worst in the south but on Saturday it was a bit grim here - very windy and raining. Sunday, however, turned out to be a very pleasant day, so I went for a walk - did three or four miles, I suppose. It's surprising how many good walks I am discovering, in my quest to explore and record this immediate locality for my blog. This time I climbed the hill to the south of Saltaire. Much of that area is a park, Northcliffe, but then I came back along an ancient pathway down into the valley, through fields, which is where I took this photo.


Thursday, 19 November 2009

South elevation of Salts Mill

This photograph shows the vast south-facing elevation of Salts Mill, Saltaire, from a vantage point slightly up the valley side. It shows how enormous the Mill is: almost 550 ft (168m) long on this side. Just imagine it at the height of its textile production....The Weaving Shed housed 1200 looms and there were 4000 workers, who produced 30,000 yards (that's nearly 27.5 kilometers!) of alpaca and worsted cloth every day. That would make a few suits.

The West Mill, which now contains shops and galleries, stretches from the right-hand tower of the twin towers to the far left of the building. The other part of the building and all that lies hidden behind is now used by businesses, primarily Pace Electronics.

(See my earlier posts for more pictures and details about Salts Mill.)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Cabinet, Salts Mill


This pleasing display can be found in the bookshop on the second floor of Salts Mill. One of the interesting things about the Mill is that it has all sorts of unusual objects on display.... well, not self-consciously 'on display' but generally scattered about the place, giving it a style and atmosphere all of its own. The wooden bench is a sort of church pew (with only three legs, I note!) but perhaps it originates from the Mill. The cabinet is filled with bottles that at one time held chemicals. It looks like something you might find in an old-fashioned chemist's shop, but I imagine the chemicals were used in the textile manufacturing process. And the print is a David Hockney poster, which references the 1853 Gallery downstairs and the Opera sets upstairs.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Saltaire from Salts Mill

This is the view from the window on the other side of the bookshop on the second floor of Salts Mill, looking south over the village of Saltaire. The large building with the tower is the Victoria Hall (see my post of 8 July). The road on the right, where the cars are, is Victoria Road. Rather spoiling the view, right in the centre, is the Caroline Street car park, which is where the Sunday School once stood. The allotments in the foreground have been there since the village was built and are still cultivated. None of the houses in the village have gardens big enough to grow vegetables, so the allotments have always been popular.

You may also be able to see a church tower in the background to the right. That is St Peter's Church, Shipley, which was opened in 1909 to provide for the explosion of housing in the Shipley/Saltaire/NabWood area in the early part of the 20th century. It's the church where I worship, so one day I'll show some pictures of that.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Window, Salts Mill

The West Mill at Salts Mill, as I have said before, contains the 1853 Gallery, restaurants and several shops. Virtually the whole of one floor is occupied by a wonderful bookshop, where I can lose myself for hours browsing the shelves.

Nearly as enticing as the books are the views through the windows. The windows are enormous - they must have needed good light to facilitate whatever part of the textile manufacturing process went on in this part of the building. It makes for a bright, airy feel to the gallery, even though it retains many elements of its industrial past like the stone flagged floors and cast-iron pillars.

This view shows the glass roof of the Combing Shed and the ornate top of the tower of the New Mill - see my post of 30 June for more details of this lovely Italianate tower.


Sunday, 15 November 2009

Baildon Green


Baildon Green is a hamlet about a mile north-east of Saltaire. Most of the cottages here date from the 18th and 19th century. It grew up around a small quarry and, like Saltaire, a textile mill, albeit a much smaller one than Salts. The Church on the Green started in 1858 as a chapel made from three cottages. They were bought for £5 each by three Christian Brethren who gave the chapel to the local community. It is still in use.

I'm always surprised by the villagey feel of this little area. It seems like it might be out in the Yorkshire Dales. (Notice the goat browsing). In fact it's very suburban, with a good view over the city of Bradford and modern housing estates in close proximity. But it's still charming.

On the Bradford council website (www.bradford.gov.uk, under C for Conservation) there is an interesting leaflet about the Baildon Green Conservation Area that tells something of the area's history - but unfortunately I can't make a link to it.