Thursday, 15 December 2011
I recently posted a photo of Saltaire's New Mill, taken from the canal towpath on the Shipley side. I suppose that's really the iconic view of the New Mill but I guess there have been many photographers who have also noticed and caught this 'upside down' view of the mill chimney, reflected in the water of the canal that runs between the New Mill and Salts Mill itself. Taken from the Victoria Road bridge, it also shows the sole remaining covered walkway that links the mills. There used to be three. To see the same scene the proper way up, look here!
As I've said previously (but will repeat for the benefit of those who've not been following my blog for long) the New Mill chimney is a copy of the campanile of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, a gesture that took the Victorian Italianate architecture of Saltaire to a new level. I still feel amazed at the grandeur of these industrial buildings, and indeed of the whole village. Sir Titus Salt must have wanted it all to be such a grand statement. He was fifty years old when Salts Mill opened in 1853 and could, I suppose, happily have retired with his wealth intact. For complex reasons - political, social, economic and personal - he chose to invest his fortune in building the huge mill and its surrounding village. It brought all his textile manufacturing operations together on one vast site and provided a much healthier and more pleasant environment for his workers to live in, away from the noxious conditions of the time in Bradford. Salt must have seemed like Father Christmas to them! (though there was of course a healthy dose of self-interest alongside his paternalism).