It's interesting what crops up when you're a blogger... I had an email recently from a lady called Marlene in Santa Cruz, California (just the name of that place made me excited!) and she said:
'My dad went to Saltaire School, and several of my aunts worked in the mill in the 1920s and 30s. We emigrated to the US in 1949, but I have always been fascinated by Saltaire, have even rented a house on George St on a few occasions to get the feel of the place, and I'm writing a novel that is set there. (Don't plan on running right out to buy it -- I've been working on this story for years, and I don't seem to be making much progress, but I'm retiring from work in August and will be able to put much more time into my writing then.)
I have a rather odd question -- does the mill really have six storeys as the World Heritage documents indicate or four as some of the more recent documentation says . . . or perhaps has it been modified from six to four or two of the floors are unused? For the purposes of my story, I want to to have the action take place on the top floor, and I remember being winded just getting to the third floor last time I was there, so it would be much more dramatic if she had to walk up six storeys, especially if it was twelve separate flights of stairs. But am I imagining that?
I am writing a scene when a women walks up the stairs for the first time, imagining her grandfather running up the stairs as the morning buzzer rings, but I can't visualize the steps very well. I remember they were dark grey stone, somewhat more worn in the middle than the edges, and that they turned half way up each floor. Would you be willing to take a set of photos of the stairs to help my memory? I hope you can help me visualize my characters in that stairwell!'
Well, how could I resist that plea? So here you are Marlene, the stairs at Salts Mill.
As it turns out, Marlene has a very good memory - her description of the stairs is pretty much spot on. And yes, there are six storeys to the Mill, though the Victoria Road entrance enters at the first level. There's a basement (currently a store selling textiles for the home), the first level (the 1853 Gallery), the second level (Pace plc and not open to the public), the third level (where the bookstore and Diner are), the fourth level (restaurant and galleries) and the roofspace, usually closed to the public.