Monday, 17 May 2010

Overlooker's cottage

Here's a pretty little Saltaire house on George Street. I do like the distinctive rounded windows that are found throughout the village. This is one of the small houses known as overlookers' cottages, understood to have been built for the supervisors at the mill. It would have had a living room and a scullery kitchen downstairs, a cellar and three bedrooms (I think). There was originally no bathroom - they would have had a private lavatory in an outhouse in the back yard, possibly a washstand in the bedroom with a pottery bowl and water jug, and a tin bath in front of the fire on bath nights! But of course, nowadays, the houses have one of the bedrooms coverted into a bathroom.

The 1871 census lists this house as being occupied by 32 yr old John Lambert, a mechanic, his wife Jane and their one year old son Joe. It doesn't say if John worked in Salts Mill - but with all that machinery they would surely have needed mechanics?

A new book has been published about Saltaire: " Saltaire - The Making of a Model Town" by Neil Jackson, Jo Lintonbon & Bryony Staples. I have not read it yet but I am told it explores the design and construction of Saltaire through its different phases. Apparently the authors' research leads them to argue that the different sizes and styles of housing have more to do with the architects' design processes and decisions than with the social structure of the village. If that's true, it would present a fundamental shift in understanding of the history of Saltaire.


  1. I have never been entirely sure about overlookers. My Great Grandfather was listed as an overlooker in a weaving shed and initially I thought that this equated with the term overlooker in other industries - a foreman or supervisor. But digging around I discovered that it meant someone who "overlooked" a group of weaving frames. There would be one or two others working the machines and the overlooker would have been in charge of them, but it was much less of a junior managerial role than in other industries.

  2. I love cottages! I even love the name "cottage"! I've many books about english cottages and would like so much to live in one!!

  3. Yes, the front door and windows really enhance the curb appeal of the house.

  4. Love the white trim and arched windows against the stone. Wish all houses here were built that well. ~Lili


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