Friday, 16 October 2009
Sir Titus Salt, who created Saltaire, died in 1876 and his eldest son died in 1887. The Salt textile business declined and it entered receivership in 1892. In 1893 the company was taken over by four Bradford businessmen and again thrived, becoming Salts (Saltaire) Ltd. But by 1929 it was again struggling and a major change occurred. The village's housing stock, up to that point owned by the company, was sold in 1933 to a Bradford estate agent, Mr Fred Gresswell. Salts Ltd used the capital raised to shore up the business and at the same time was freed from the responsibility of managing and maintaining the housing. The tenants were offered the chance to buy their own homes (though it was not the best timing, in the middle of the worldwide economic Depression) and were given 'financial facilities' to undertake home improvements. By this time, out of the 2000 or so workers at the mill only about 450 still lived within the village, a major shift from earlier days.
Clearly many of the occupiers did manage to buy their homes, and looking round Saltaire today, you can see the legacy of those times. The new private owners must have wished to make their mark on their homes. Many of the houses still have the 'leaded lights' - lead strips and decorative stained glass in the windows and doors - that were so popular around that time.