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.


  1. Very gloomy and sad it may be, but it is very well suited to a monochrome image. I always think that monochrome portrays stone much better than colour for some strange reason.

  2. Almshouses seem to have survived in many places, and speak to a different time; can't imagine anyone bringing out something similar now. For the monochrome weekly, go to where there is a link to Mr Linky (don't ask). You register with that group then sign in each week on the monochrome weekly page. I actually found it relatively easy to see what to do, and it seems to work.

  3. I like old buildings like this, especially those with such rich and important history. Very fitting for monochrome MOnday.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog post, Jenny. I'm glad you enjoyed your first visit. I hope you'll be back. I enjoyed my first visit to yours too.

  4. The 'sheltered accommodation' of the time.
    You are very welcome to the Mono Weekend.

  5. You have a good touch with monochrome. You've captured the mood and soul of this old building.

  6. A very nice image in monochrome. But has you know every day is Monochrome day with me. I would say that with film based photography you can increase the tonal quality and depth of an image by the filter you select. I tend to have a Orange filter screwed to the end of my favourite lens all the time. You are doing a tremendous job in documenting the place where you live, long may this continue.

  7. Very nice photo of a lovely building! I really like it and I actually don't find it gloomy at all.


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