Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Interior, 1875

There are no 'museums' in Saltaire and - apart from during the annual Saltaire Arts Trail - you can't visit inside any of the village houses, as they are all private dwellings.

On a recent visit to Bradford's Industrial Museum, I had a look into the row of Victorian back-to-back houses that were moved from their original position in Bradford and rebuilt on the Museum site. Back-to-back houses are literally that... two houses built back to back, each having one entrance, one downstairs room and two bedrooms upstairs. There are none like that in Saltaire - its houses are terraced and have a front and back entrance, so they are bigger than the ones at the Museum.
Nevertheless, this picture will give you some idea of what the inside of a millworker's house looked like around 1875.

The houses were lit by gaslight, oil lamps and candles. You can see the black coal-fired range that was used for cooking - it has an integral tank for heating water to use for washing and bathing (in a tin bath). The scullery would have had running water from a cold tap. If you click the pic to enlarge it you can also see, resting by the fire, two 'flat irons' that were heated in the fire to iron clothes, a pottery hot-water bottle and the very necessary bellows used to get the fire roaring. Although spartan by modern standards, Saltaire's cottages would have been cosy and luxurious compared with the prevailing living conditions in the city at the time. Most of Saltaire's Victorian residents worked in the mill or had other jobs in the locality so most would have been able to afford reasonable food and furnishings.

8 comments:

  1. I'd say they had a rather good life in this house! it's comfortable and offering a lot of "modern" things. I love the cups of tea and the teapot!!

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  2. An interesting historical post. I love those old houses in museums. It really gives you a feeling of being there with the original inhabitants.

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  3. My grandfather (Enoch) and his wife lived in a little back-to-back in Great Horton. I remember visiting my grandmother there - Enoch died the year I was born. The house must be long gone now - maybe it was moved (stone-by-stone) to the Museum.

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  4. Oh, wouldn't it be lovely if this was Enoch's house? I am pretty sure these back-to-backs originated in Great Horton.

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  5. How interesting. I couldn't help noticing that beautiful tea set!

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  6. This is yet another informative and fascinating post, offering us a little insight to a bygone world. Thank you.

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  7. I always like to see what the domestic arrangements of a given time were -- and downstairs is far more interesting than upstairs.

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  8. It's fun to have a look at how life was in another period of time. The wall color and table settings are charming! ~Lili

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