Thursday, 13 January 2011

Heritage Trail 11 - Streets & alleys


'You will see the streets branch off at regular intervals...'  Walking along Caroline Street takes you past the end of many of the streets that run north-south, like George Street on the left here.  George Street is one of the longest streets in the village, cleverly designed so that the Church can be seen right from the very top (see here).  Between the streets run back alleys, where each house has its own backyard (and originally its own 'privy' or outside toilet) making these houses luxurious compared to the prevailing conditions in the cities in early Victorian times.  Remember, these were houses for ordinary working folk, Sir Titus Salt's millworkers, most of whom had previously been living in the city of Bradford where the mills then were.

I think it's hard for us these days to appreciate just how significant Salt's actions were.  James Smith in his report for the Health Of Towns Commission in 1844 concluded "... of Bradford I am obliged to pronounce it the most filthy town I visited."  Central Bradford in the 1840's is described as having "courts, yards and dingy alleys with overflowing privies, open cesspits, pig styes and slaughterhouses and effluent laden watercourses".  Diseases, including cholera, were rife.

The wonderful book by Jim Greenhalf, 'Salt & Silver' says: "For more than 25 years Salt had worked in the dirty heart of bursting-at-the seams Bradford... He was a very rich man, and might have retired with a lordly income... but he was proposing to adandon Bradford for a greenfield site more than three miles to the north. Everything was based in town. Yet Salt proposed removing to the country, putting himself at the astronomical expense of building a vast new works, fire-proof and with all modern conveniences." (Plus the village around it).  And why?..... "because he had a dream which he believed was his God-given duty to turn into reality. And so, on a chilly November evening in 1849, Salt walked into the comfortable fire-lit chambers of architects Lockwood and Mawson." And the rest, as they say, is history.

[See Caroline Street on the street plan]

15 comments:

  1. Where are the Titus Salts of today, I wonder?

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  2. Interesting post. My mum was born in Bradford in the 1920s and they still had what she called "the street pig" living at the end of their terrace. It lived on scraps and then everyone shared it when it was slaughtered.

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  3. Fascinating as always, and I particularly like the reports of Bradford. But a question I am sure I have asked you before (and if you have answered it and I have forgotten the answer, I apologise) : Why did Salt not live in or near Saltaire? Why on earth did he live ten miles or so away on the outskirts of Brighouse. I have never understood this at all.

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  4. Some with bins and some without. I remember the privy at my grandmothers in Sheffield - my God it was cold in winter! Thank heavens for modern plumbing.

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  5. I guess that even today, a lot of people would like to have those houses and live in..

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  6. Alan - as regards Sir T, I can only guess... they started renting Crow Nest near Brighouse in 1844 (well before Saltaire) but they had to move out in 1858 (to Methley) when the owner wanted to live in it himself. They apparently liked Crow Nest very much and bought it outright in 1867. He then lived there til he died, travelling over to Saltaire often, which I gather he later found quite arduous. Some of his sons lived in the Saltaire area but I believe they had to build new houses - so perhaps there wasn't anything grand enough round here at the time. And I guess the gentry liked to keep a bit of distance from the workers. No doubt Lady S had something to say on the matter. She hot-footed it down south as soon as hubby died!

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  7. Another nice entry about your trip along the Heritage Trail. Good job.

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  8. What fun to have enough money to do things right -- a bit like playing God.

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  9. Two great contrasting photos. I remember the 'back entries'from when we lived in Liverpool when we were first married. Remember the 'guzunder'? -- the pot that guzunder the bed! So you didn't have to visit the outside privy.
    Fifty years later, here we are with two bathrooms, one up and one down.
    Now THAT's progress1

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  10. You have to respect Sir Titus, acting as he did simply because he knew it was the right thing to do. If more modern companies recognised their 'corporate responsiblities' to the extent that he did, the world would be a much fairer and more wholesome place.

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  11. The people are keeping the town very clean and tidy. That probably is part of living in such a well planned and organised town.

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  12. It's so fascinating to learn all these tidbits about Sir Titus Salt. ~Lili

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  13. You live in such a pretty city!
    Love your shots!

    B xx

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  14. The kind of place I would love to explore. Lovely shots, Jenny. The pavement is fantastic!

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