Sunday, 30 September 2012
I don't think I've ever mentioned before that Saltaire has a fire station. Actually I'm not sure if it is technically in Saltaire but never mind, it is just across the road from Fanny's Ale House and that's in Saltaire. On the final weekend of the Saltaire Festival, the firefighters on the day's watch were holding a charity car wash, hosing down cars in a very good-humoured and quite dramatic fashion. They must have been fairly sure they wouldn't get a 'shout', although they would have been ready to run, I think.
Saturday, 29 September 2012
A reminder of our Jubilympic summer full of red, white and blue - one of the flowerbeds in Roberts Park, Saltaire.
As well as being very wet, the weather is feeling distinctly autumnal here now, with very cold nights (extra duvet weather!). I am loathe to leave the summer behind, still needing a dose of sunshine that I don't feel to have had. Happily I can visit my blog friends in Australia and other sunny climes when I need cheering up - among them Diane, Grace, Dianne and Fiona. Make sure you all keep up a supply of spring photos!
Friday, 28 September 2012
I think there has probably been a night watchman on duty at the gates of Salts Mill for the last 160 years. (Not the same one, of course!)
This gives me an excuse to mention that I bought a print at an exhibition during the Festival. It's called "Hidden Treasure" by local artist Jane Fielder (see here). She apparently came to Saltaire one evening and was inspired to paint some very atmospheric pictures, in a style quite a lot different from her usual technique. The one I bought shows this area of the Mill, though from a different angle, at night with a few lighted windows. It's very mysterious and I love it. Click here (Jane's website) to see it - the third picture from the top.
Thursday, 27 September 2012
Well, it's still raining as I write this on Wednesday evening. Though there was a brief respite in the middle of the day it started up again later. The River Aire through Saltaire is as high as I've ever seen it, though still largely contained, apart from this overspill into Roberts Park. I'm not sure that it has peaked yet. We will get a lot of water coming down from the Yorkshire Dales overnight. It makes an interesting subject for the camera. These were taken on my iPhone on the way home from work.... Not bad, I think....
The water at the New Mill is thundering over the weir; such power there. Contrast with these photos - here and here - for previous flood conditions. You can see it is much worse now.
The fisherman seen in yesterday's blog photo was standing in the middle of the river just below the weir, alongside the mill wall seen here top right. What a difference in a week or so!
It seems even worse further north and east. Some of the city centre in York is flooded, trains between York and Newcastle are disrupted and the main north-south road, the A1, is closed for miles due to flooding. What a pity we can't send some of this to those areas of the world that are drought-stricken.
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
I was aware that fly fishing took place on the River Aire around Saltaire but I have never actually seen a fisherman until the other day. He was standing just downstream of the weir beside the New Mill. I gather there are brown trout, grayling and chub in the river. I wonder if he caught anything?
I imagine all fishing is suspended again, as we've had continuous heavy rain in Yorkshire (indeed across much of the country) for three days and nights now, with high winds too. They say we've had two months' rainfall in that time! There is a flood warning out on the River Aire and the situation is bad on the River Wharfe around Otley and Ilkley. Saltaire won't flood (not from the river anyway, maybe from the drains!)) as it's higher than the river, but Roberts Park might, and there are areas along the other side of the river that are low-lying and designed to allow some flooding.
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
The Saltaire Festival offers opportunities to venture into areas where the general public is not normally allowed. Housed in what was originally Salts Mill's combing shed (where wool was straightened and sorted), this canteen belongs to Pace plc, the electronics company that now uses much of the Mill for its production. It provided a calm and airy space to escape the Festival crowds, chill out, have a coffee and watch old films of Salts Mill's workers' outings. (See also here).
I was a little surprised to see this replica of one of China's Terracotta Warriors. According to its label it was a gift to Pace plc from Uniserve 'to commemorate our partnership and the logistics services we provide from China and the rest of the world'. The Terracotta Army are of course a series of sculptures depicting the army of Qin Shi Huang, China's first Emperor. Buried with his body in 209-210 BC, they were supposed to protect the Emperor in the afterlife. The Mausoleum, discovered in 1974, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site like Saltaire. (I wonder if they have a bust of Sir Titus in China?)
Monday, 24 September 2012
This charming corner is normally hidden from view, except to students and staff at Shipley College. It's tucked away in the gardens attached to the Exhibition Building. These gardens and some of the allotments across the road are tended by students studying horticulture. (It's where the TV celebrity gardener and novelist Alan Titchmarsh began his training.) The gardens were open to the public during the recent Saltaire Festival's Open Gardens weekend. In the background is the long south frontage of Salts Mill.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
The Aagrah is a local Asian restaurant chain, based in Shipley, that produces high-quality foods that are justifiably popular among all sections of the local community. I'm not a huge fan of curry generally but the cuisine in the Aagrah is really tasty and very subtly flavoured. There is a help-yourself buffet, so it's easy to try new things.
They have for several years been a major sponsor of the Saltaire Festival. This year they had a garden restaurant in the park, where you could sample all sorts of foodie treats. They also hosted a series of masterclasses and demonstrations of Asian cuisine. Stephanie Moon, a well-known 'celebrity chef' (daughter of a Yorkshire farmer, who started her training at Craven College, Skipton) was also due to give a talk and demonstration.
This handsome young man was 'drumming up custom' and welcoming visitors; he happily posed for a photo. He is wearing traditional south Asian costume and carries a dohl drum.
|An elaborately carved water-melon.|
Saturday, 22 September 2012
There were lots of youngsters walking around the Saltaire Festival with beautifully painted faces - tigers and butterflies and all manner of other creative face-paintings. I also came across this young lady doing Mehndi tattooing, an elaborate but temporary tattoo drawn in henna. It's an art form that developed in the Indian sub-continent but is widely practised here among communities of Asian origin, for ceremonial occasions like weddings and festivals. It seems to be something that has developed a wider appeal for young girls and it's a nice thing to see them carefully painting each other's hands with these ancient and traditional patterns.
Friday, 21 September 2012
Music lovers of a different persuasion are also well-catered for at Saltaire Festival, since several local community choirs get together to perform. They all 'busk' around the village during the day and then hold a concert in the late afternoon in Saltaire's United Reformed Church. I wasn't able to discover the name of this choir (anybody know?) but they were making a cheerful sound, delighting those listening in the grounds of the church. It's a pity I can't sing (too deaf) as it seems a lovely, healthy pastime - social and creative. It's hard to sing and feel glum at the same time.
Thursday, 20 September 2012
The final weekend of the Saltaire Festival always has so much going on that it's hard to cover all of it. In particular there's lots of music - in the Piazza (aka the Caroline Street carpark!), in the bandstand in the park, choirs in the church and around the village, and impromptu concerts wherever people can park a drum kit. I came across The Broken Hearts Club Band playing a set down by the canal bridge (and they were also scheduled to play on the Piazza stage on Sunday).
The band is made up of Mark Yates on double bass, Craig Bussey on drums & vocals, Alice Gilmour playing violin, and Jez Barraclough, guitar & vocals. They write all their own material with a 'skiffletastic, folk, country feel' and have recently recorded their debut album "ElectricPictureShop" available on CD. If that title rings a bell, look here.... It's not much good asking me (since I'm pretty deaf) whether the music was any good, but even I found I wanted to jig about a bit - music to dance to! There are (of course) videos on Youtube - see this.
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Monday, 17 September 2012
Another delightful 'Open Garden' from this year's Saltaire Festival. This is a tiny back yard, only about six feet square, belonging to one of the village's smaller cottages that, according to the trail leaflet, has been in the same family for 77 years. Despite its bijou size, the yard is packed full of colour and interest. There are topiary evergreen box trees in there (one looked like a cat) and a wonderful Mediterranean-blue wall, so that the garden has interest and colour all year round. Delightful - and apparently a past winner of the 'best back yard' award. I can see why.
(Mental note to self.... must try harder with my little patch next year... it could look really pretty if I made more effort.)
Sunday, 16 September 2012
When Saltaire Festival and the Arts Trail were a combined event, one of the most interesting features was always the 'open houses', when some of Saltaire's village houses are turned into mini-art galleries and opened for viewing. The Arts Trail now occupies its own slot in the spring, so the open houses have migrated to that. Instead, the Festival this year saw the first (I'm sure it will be repeated) Open Gardens trail, and very fascinating it was too, peeping into people's back yards.
It's truly amazing what some people have managed to cram into their tiny little yards - and in some cases even tinier front gardens. It has not been a good year for gardens (far too wet and grey) and even the best show few signs of colour at this late stage - but that hasn't stopped people from injecting colour in the form of pots, painted walls, bunting and other 'props'. I particularly liked this pink bicycle, a key feature in a showstopper of a garden, whose visionary owner has filled it with attractively painted flowerpots in pinks, blue and purples with planting to match.
Saturday, 15 September 2012
Friday, 14 September 2012
Amazingly, the weather was warm and dry for the first weekend of the Saltaire Festival. People flocked to Roberts Park, where there was enough going on to satisfy all comers. As well as lots of activities for children (see also yesterday), there was a cricket match (one of the last of the season, I guess) and a 'Bandstand Marathon' of music. I arrived quite late in the day but in time to hear most of the set from this local blues player, Gerry Cooper. Really nice music to relax to and there were lots of people enjoying it, many with quite elaborate picnics, having obviously prepared well for a lazy Sunday in the park.
Thursday, 13 September 2012
There was lots happening in Roberts Park on Sunday, including Saltaire's version of Crufts, the famous Dog Show. Some fun classes included 'the dog most like its owner', and 'the dog with the waggiest tail'. Nearby, there were small pets to admire, including rabbits and rescue chickens - and people were either fascinated or horrified to see the spiders, scorpions, lizards and snakes displayed by 'Predators' in Shipley, a supplier of exotic pets. The one the girl is holding, below, was I think a fairly harmless corn snake (familiar to my American friends?) and there was also a large yellow Burmese Royal Python. That seemed content to be stroked but it was a bit big for my liking! I was brave and touched the corn snake. (Touched it, not held it!) I expected it to feel damp and slimy but it didn't.
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
The tenth annual Saltaire Festival began this weekend and continues until Sunday 16 September. Every year it seems to get bigger and buzzier, and every year there are new aspects to enjoy. I found something small but amusing sitting on a radiator in the Victoria Hall - this 18" high knitted "Sir Titus Salt". Created by Heather Savage, it pays homage to the visionary Victorian who built the village of Saltaire and the mill. I gather 'he' will be visiting a number of different venues during the course of the Festival - I will see if I can spot him again. (I think he may have had a drop of 'Saltaire Blonde', despite his well-known views on the perils of alcohol consumption!)
Heather has been instrumental in galvanising a thriving little local knitting community. She runs a 'Knit and Natter' group at Shipley College. It seems an appropriate pastime for an area built on the fortunes of the woollen spinning and weaving industry. Sadly it's not something I'll be joining in with; my knitting career got no further than a small scarf at Primary School, which I cast off prematurely in disgust, only to receive a severe telling-off from my needlework teacher!
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
The trouble I went to, to get this photo... (and it's not even that brilliant, but never mind that). Over the summer, the Railway Touring Company run a few Sunday steam train excursions (The Waverley Tour) from York to Carlisle on the famous Settle-Carlisle line, over Ribblehead Viaduct. On the way, of course, they have to pass through Saltaire. I have many times heard the familiar chug-chug from my house and thought "one day I must go out and take a photo of that". So I got up especially early one Sunday morning (I normally enjoy my lie-in!) and stood on the bridge and waited... and waited... and it didn't come. A couple of Sundays later I got up again and this time it did come, but my photos didn't turn out very good at all from the high bridge viewpoint - too many cables in the way and other distractions. This last Sunday I got up again and staked out a place on the station platform. The train was a good half-hour later than scheduled but at least it came. With the camera on 'continuous' shooting, I almost have a video (!) but this is possibly the best of the bunch.
The hauling locomotive is LMS 'Black Five' No 45305. There are lots of great photos of it on Flickr - and this video, also taken on Sunday somewhere further up the line.
I love steam trains anyway, and to be in such close proximity to one, going at quite a lick (as they don't stop at Saltaire station) is a real thrill. I actually found myself teary-eyed, it was so romantic! There's something so right about seeing one in Saltaire's Victorian setting, knowing that when the village was first built, they would have been a regular sight - and sound - up and down the line.
Monday, 10 September 2012
Saturday evening was the 'Last Night of the Proms' on BBC TV - the Proms being an annual series of summer concerts in the Royal Albert Hall in London, presented by the BBC. Like most things British, it has over the years developed a whole host of somewhat eccentric customs that go with it, most of all on the last night. The second half of the closing programme always features a number of patriotic songs, including Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, to which 'Land of Hope and Glory' is sung and of course the National Anthem. It usually concludes with a spirited rendering of Auld Lang Syne - leavened with flags and fancy dress and much whistling, clapping and bouncing up and down (at least by those in the standing area on the floor of the Hall). All pretty harmless and jolly good fun.
I've watched it every year for most of my life and, in the same way that the Grand National horse race seems to signify for me the start of spring/summer, the Last Night of the Proms always seems to herald autumn, the end of 'play time' and a shift of mood. (No doubt because it also coincides with the start of a new school year, a key feature of much of one's formative life!)
This year it seems even more significant, since the summer has been one long festival on our small island - the Jubilympics, if you like. I hope we don't all feel a collective hangover now it's all over, though I suspect many people will feel a bit bereft. It has all been compelling viewing on TV and even more fun for those of us who have been able to join in some small part of the excitement. I think it's made us Brits feel quite a lot better about ourselves. There were plenty who thought we wouldn't be able to pull it off, but we did - and in some style, I feel. It's quite hard to encapsulate what it has meant, but one way and another we've seen the best of ourselves, with generous and smiling volunteers; inspirational athletes - both Olympians and Paralympians; tremendous, symbolic pageants during the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations and the Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies (and we do that kind of ceremonial very well). It has all felt wholesome and healthy, bringing people together in a very positive way. I so much hope that some of it sticks - in particular the breaking down of barriers between people and the respect for those who are different from ourselves (different backgrounds, different abilities). I think we've seen that humanity really is beautiful and that individually and collectively we can achieve so much.
Personally I'd be happy to see: more of us getting fit and enjoying sport; a continuing realisation that those with disabilities (of any kind) are no less 'able' and should not be rendered invisible in society; and a shift away from the instant gratification and fame of the 'celeb' culture, towards genuine validation of the power of effort, commitment and dedication to achieving goals over a sustained period of time. I shall start with myself.... this time of year always seems better than the New Year for making resolutions.
And for those who do feel bereft.... may I remind you that 'Strictly Come Dancing' and 'Downton Abbey' soon return to our TV screens. If you want sport there's plenty of footie - and Andy Murray in the final of the US Open today! And there's Saltaire's own Festival too.
(Photo taken from my TV screen - fuzzy but atmospheric!)
Sunday, 9 September 2012
After all that urban splendour, it's back to Saltaire (for some suburban splendour, I suppose!) This view (looking more or less eastwards from the gatehouse of what used to be the Milner Field estate) shows quite clearly how Saltaire was built in a cosy hollow beside the river. Sir Titus Salt chose a greenfield site, well away from the deprivation and disease of the Victorian city of Bradford (which lies in another hollow somewhere in the distance to the right of this picture.) Those familiar with Saltaire's landmarks will be able to pick out (from left to right) the Victoria Mills chimney, the New Mill chimney, Salts Mill and its tall chimney, Saltaire United Reformed Church's domed tower, Shipley's clock tower (a white square) - then further along to the right - the tower of Saltaire's Victoria Hall, the tower of Shipley's St Paul's Church and, right on the hill, the tower of the Roman Catholic Church of St Walburga.
This weekend saw the start of the tenth annual Saltaire Festival (I can hardly believe it has come round again so quickly) - so I should be able to bring some reports and photos of that in the coming days.
Saturday, 8 September 2012
This is another fine Victorian building in the centre of Bradford - the Midland Hotel. Completed in 1890 and designed by Charles Trubshaw, it was built by the Midland Railway Company as part of the adjoining Forster Square Station. It originally had 115 bedrooms (now 90) and boasts some superb Victorian interiors, with ornate plasterwork, glittering chandeliers and fine Burmantofts tiling.
Rail travel lost a lot of its glamour after 'the golden age of steam' and many of Britain's railway hotels, including this one, fell into disrepair. It was rescued by local entrepreneur John Pennington in the 1990s and has been lovingly restored. It is now run by Peel Hotels.
It has an illustrious history. Being one of Bradford's premier hotels, its guestbook has included Laurel and Hardy, Paul Robeson, Bram Stoker ( of 'Dracula' fame), The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. George Formby, the Lancashire entertainer famous for his playing of the banjo ukelele, stayed here when performing at the nearby Alhambra Theatre in 1940, and almost every Prime Minister up to Harold Wilson has been through its doors. The famous Shakespearian actor, Sir Henry Irving, collapsed and died on the staircase in 1905 (!), sweeping out of this life in some style.
Friday, 7 September 2012
It's always worth 'looking up' in cities, and that's very true in Bradford. The building on the right is the Wool Exchange (see yesterday's post) at its wider end, with an equally ornate building on the left that is now a bank (maybe always has been?)
The photos below show a couple of interesting sights within the Wool Exchange: a statue of Richard Cobden (1804-1865) - a self-made businessman who became an MP and an outspoken, radical campaigner for free and fair trade, international co-operation and democracy - and some original Victorian tiles and wrought ironwork on the staircase.
Thursday, 6 September 2012
This is the outside of the Wool Exchange, the building that houses Waterstone's Bookshop in Bradford (see yesterday's post). It occupies a triangular site, so it is narrow at this end, embellished by the ornate tower that is reminiscent of Flemish Cloth Halls. The other end is much wider. You might just be able to see the modern plate glass window (on the right of the photo) that has been inserted into one side and provides a welcoming entrance into the bookshop, as well as flooding the inside with light. It's a tricky building to photograph; hemmed in by other buildings, you really need a proper tilt-shift lens - but a bit of convergence in the verticals merely serves to emphasise the soaring, fanciful design. It's like something out of a fairy story.
Indeed, seen from the viewpoint of Bradford in 2012, the prosperity denoted by this fine building might just as well be a fairytale. According to a recent article in our local paper, Bradford's decline in economic and social terms since the beginning of the 20th century has been the second sharpest of any city in Britain*. Its wealth was built on just one product, wool, and when that trade declined, so did the city. And, as the article says: "The bigger you are, the harder you fall." Incidentally, the article is worth a quick look if only for the photo that illustrates it, which shows wool traders on the floor of the Wool Exchange in the 1960s.
* The worst decline has been in Hastings.
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Another of Bradford's hidden treasures is its branch of Waterstone's, the booksellers. At eye level it looks fairly much like any other bookshop, same shelves, same titles - but lift your eyes up from the reading material and gasp in amazement! The shop is creatively housed in the incredible Victorian building that was Bradford's Wool Exchange - the place where the wealthy merchants (presumably including Sir Titus Salt) gathered to buy and sell wool, to gossip and to network. Built between 1864-67 (around the time that the construction of Saltaire was completed) it was designed by the same architects, Lockwood and Mawson, in Venetian Gothic style. Wool was last traded there in the 1960s. It was Grade 1 listed in 1963 and its fine hammer-beam roof is a particular feature. (See here for more detail about its architecture.)
The building has been improved in recent years, I would say, by the insertion of a wall of plate glass on one side that lightens the interior and makes it possible to appreciate the detailing. There is a Starbucks coffee shop high up on a mezzanine floor and sitting up there you get a fine view of the whole room.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
I guess every city has its hidden treasures - and this, to my mind, is another one of Bradford's. Rimmington's Chemist has occupied its site near City Hall since the 1830s. Founded by Felix Rimmington, the shop's history is interwoven with that of the city, right up to the present time. Felix Rimmington was one of a few expert chemists involved in trying to solve London's 'Jack The Ripper' murders in 1888. He also solved the humbug sweets poisoning case, when twenty Bradford people died as a result of eating sweets laced with arsenic and sold from a market stall.
The shop was bought and refurbished a couple of years ago by local businessmen Qaisar Sheikh and Sajid Hussain, who both trained as pharmacists at Bradford University. The shop still has many of its original wooden fittings and has been carefully redesigned to reveal their beauty whilst providing a bright and contemporary shopping environment. All those labelled drawers would at one time have stored ingredients for remedies prepared in the shop and they are also collecting and displaying some of the original medicine bottles. Rimmingtons provides a full personal pharmacy service and stocks a variety of beauty and healthcare products, including traditional British favourites such as Bronnley soaps, Yardley scent and Kent combs and brushes.
It's worth a visit. The owners are very friendly and enthusiastic (and were happy to let me take photos inside). I hope their business will prove successful and enduring, though I gather that like so many shops in the city centre they are struggling somewhat, due to the generally depressed nature of the area.
Monday, 3 September 2012
One of the pedestrian entrances to Bradford Cathedral is via an ancient set of steps from the city centre up to the hill on which the Cathedral stands. It's a damp, dark and perhaps sometimes dangerous alleyway and yet I find it incredibly beautiful in its own way. Perhaps this photo captures something of the mystery and romance it holds for me.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
A hidden treasure on the same side of the city as Little Germany, Bradford's Cathedral Church of St Peter provides a little oasis of green gardens and calm space. It started life as a parish church, and lacks the soaring grandeur of many of our cathedrals - but I like it because of that. It is an attractive building with a warm and intimate feel inside. Parts of the building date back to the mid-15th century and the tower was added in 1508 but it only became a cathedral in 1919 when the Diocese of Bradford was created. It was extended in the 1950s and 60s and a major re-ordering in 1987 also freed up space to enable it to cope with the big civic and religious occasions that are part of the life of a cathedral.
It has recently gone though some hard times, caused largely by the collapse of an ambitious but fundamentally flawed project to found a museum of faith in St Peter's House, the old Post Office building which is at the front of the cathedral. That left the cathedral authorities with a mountain of debt which had to be tackled. The former Dean, David Ison, did a great job of steering the church into a much better place. He left earlier this year to take up the post of Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London. Their gain is definitely our loss!
Saturday, 1 September 2012
This, by contrast, is the area known as Bradford's Little Germany, down the hill from yesterday's Gatehaus building. It's an historic area of narrow streets and Victorian warehouses, mostly built between 1860 and 1874 by German Jewish wool merchants - rich and influential men who used the best architects (among them Lockwood and Mawson, Saltaire's architects) and vied with each other (and with other local cities) in their desire to produce buildings that reflected their standing. The area has been a conservation area for many years, with many listed buildings and attempts have been made to repurpose the buildings in a sensible way. They've tried to push it upmarket with a sort of arts/cultural theme. Many of the warehouses are now apartments, but the area struggles to be a community because of its isolated location.