Thursday, 17 January 2019

Volunteers at Bracken Hall

These ladies are some of the volunteers who are keeping Shipley Glen's Bracken Hall Countryside Centre open, through the Friends of Bracken Hall and with the support of Baildon Town Council. They weren't all that sure about having their photos taken but they kindly agreed.

The Centre first opened in 1981 and was run as a private business by the people who lived in the adjacent house. Later it was transferred to Bradford Council, who ran it for many years as an educational outreach centre. Budget cuts meant that could not continue and the centre closed in 2013. A concerted effort by the Friends means it's now able to open at weekends. It organises guided walks and supports school visits to the area, as well as having an interesting and varied display inside, covering the social, industrial and natural history of the area. It also has a nice wildlife-friendly garden. It's well worth popping in if you're walking on Shipley Glen. They even offered me chocolates and a cup of tea!

The adjoining Bracken Hall House is now run as a luxury B&B and has five star reviews.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Saltaire's almshouses

Since some of the large trees on Victoria Road were felled, it's been much easier to appreciate the architecture of Saltaire's almshouses. Opened in September 1868, they are amongst the most ornate buildings in the village. Like the rest of Saltaire, they have Italianate features but they lean heavily towards the Victorian Gothic style in favour at the time, with pointed arches and rock-faced stonework. 45 dwellings were built at the top end of Victoria Road, in a rectangle around a garden known as Alexandra Square. Those shown above are on the east side, adjoining the infirmary. 

Perhaps influenced by other local mill owners (including Francis Crossley and Titus Salt Junior's father-in-law, Joseph Crossley, in Halifax), Sir Titus Salt decided to provide for selected elderly and infirm residents, who received rent-free accommodation and a small pension. I believe some of the cottages are still used for social housing. 

You can see other photos of them by clicking the 'almshouses' label below. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Giddy Arts - coffee to go!

The shop on the corner of Victoria Road and Albert Terrace has been many things. It opened in 1861 and was a flour dealer and confectioner. In the 1930s it was 'Vimto's Temperance Bar', selling soft drinks and it had a counter where you could sit and drink your Vimto. It continued to sell confectionery for years under various owners, until the 1970s. It then had a time when it sold furniture and rugs, and by the early 2000s it was 'Era', selling vintage clothes. (My daughter bought a dress for a Cambridge May Ball there.) The shop closed and then reopened eventually as ArtParade, selling high quality craftwork, ceramics, jewellery, cards and gifts. It was also a gallery showing and selling contemporary artwork, prints and photographs. ArtParade flourished for many years until its owner retired last year.

Now No 1 Victoria Road has become 'Giddy Arts', a gallery 'championing independent makers', mostly local, stocking a growing collection of jewellery, textiles and ceramics. They have also installed a small coffee bar, selling 'coffee to go'. I stopped by after a walk and chatted to Joel, the proprietor, whilst sampling the coffee. It was delicious and I can highly recommend it. I'm not generally a huge coffee fan but I could drink several of their lattes a day, if my waistline would allow it! Top marks for using compostable cups and lids too. The shop has only been open a week or two, so it's early days. As it's right beside the rail station, I could imagine them doing a good trade catering for commuters who want a hot drink to wrap their hands around and wake them up. (I don't know what time they open up.)

It's a nice counterpart to Radstudio at No 2 next door. That's been open five years now and sells a good selection of stylish homewares and gifts.

(Some information taken from the book 'A Penny for Going', the history of Saltaire through its shops, by local historian Roger Clarke.)

Monday, 14 January 2019

Saltaire in the round

Saltaire in the round: four photos taken on the same spot, turning 360 degrees.

Looking NORTH (above) from the railway bridge down Victoria Road, towards the church, canal, river and park.

SOUTH (above) looking up Victoria Road towards the Victoria Hall, whose tower you can just see behind the tree on the left.

EAST (above) looking across the allotments to the south facade of Salts Mill,

and WEST (below) looking along Albert Terrace, which runs alongside the railway line.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Two from one, plus a bonus

Photo blogs are a bit like the London Underground, I always think... You can travel on the Underground and 'pop up' at various points in London, without having any real idea of how those points all mesh together. Some places I always thought were miles apart turn out to be next-door neighbours, quicker to walk than to take the Tube between them!

In a similar way, I'm sure regular readers of my blog, even those who have never set foot in Saltaire, have a pretty good idea by now of the local scenery and my habitual walks but perhaps haven't formed an idea of where all the places are in relation to each other. So I suddenly had the idea to take two (or more) photos from one spot, just shifting my viewpoint, and that way you can see a little more of how things fit together.

The picture above is taken looking back in the direction of Saltaire, at the point where the Leeds-Liverpool Canal (seen on the right) passes on an aqueduct over the River Aire (glimpsed centre left). This is the furthest point of my favourite circular walk, along the canal and then back along the river. There are steps down to the riverbank just where the girl is standing. It's a walk I do at least every couple of weeks, but there is always something new to discover. This time I noticed that a new hedge has been planted behind the bench. The sign said it had been done by the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group. Good idea - but it might mean that one day you won't be able to see my two favourite trees so well...

My two favourite trees, in the photo below, are on the hill up above the canal. I was standing on the same spot to take both photos, just moving a quarter turn between the two views. The girl had seen me taking the trees and must have decided to take a similar picture herself. They did look quite dramatic, lit by the sun against the dark storm clouds.

And a postscript, a photo taken on a different day: I noticed that, now the leaves are off the trees, it is possible to see a good bit of the aqueduct from the river bank. I don't think I've ever really shown the arches before as they are usually so obscured. The Dowley Gap Aqueduct is 30 feet long and actually has seven arches. Designed by the famous engineer, James Brindley, it was built in the 1770s. Nowadays the river mainly flows under the first two arches, turning back on itself in a huge curve. The others are silted up and only really fill when the river is in flood.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

All roads lead to the Mill

This is a phone shot, as that's all I had with me when I wanted to capture a glorious burst of clear blue skies and sunshine that snuck in among a run of dank, dreary days. I was walking down towards Salts Mill, an edifice that you really can't miss, with that huge chimney soaring skywards. There's a fairly steep hill up to the main (Bradford) road and the view from up there is pretty good, looking north across the valley towards Baildon and Hope Hill. I normally try to exclude from my photos the apartment blocks and other boring things that surround our lovely World Heritage Site but I guess sometimes I should show the unvarnished truth. At least they are not high-rise blocks.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Wedding day

I was just going down to Roberts Park one day when a bridal couple happened to be posing for photos. I was cheeky enough to ask if I could take one too! They did tell me their names but then said: 'You'll never be able to remember that!'... and I can't! What with my poor hearing and the unfamiliar (to me) Asian names, I didn't really stand a chance - so my sincere apologies to them. They made a beautiful couple. The bride's outfit and jewellery were absolutely stunning, she looked gorgeous.There are often weddings in Saltaire's Victoria Hall and I assume they had just walked down from there to the park, for a greener background to their photos. Wishing them many happy years of marriage - and thanks for the photo.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Sculptural forms

A couple more from RHS Harlow Carr: I spotted this little bird, just landed on a spade handle - or perhaps just about to take flight. Either way, it effectively caught the characteristics of a robin or a tit, even though it was crafted from metal. The winter flowering heather around it had a pretty purple haze.

The pot and plant below caught my eye too; not a sculpture but nevertheless sculptural. I think the plant was actually on its way to decaying and all the colour was bleached from its leaves, but it shone silver in the sunshine and I liked the way it looked.

PS: A friend who has a plant nursery tells me this plant is a Senecio 'Angel wings' and is meant to be that colour. Oops. I should have known Harlow Carr don't do dead plants! I like it even more now.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Looking up

Even in winter there is some beauty to find in the varied shrubs and trees around RHS Harlow Carr's gardens. I really like the corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'), with its zany twisting branches and abundant catkins.

This witch hazel (Hamamelis) had amazingly bright orange flowers, exploding like little fireworks along its branches.

I'm not too sure what the pink blossom below is (a viburnum, maybe?) but it looked fabulous against a clear blue sky.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Winter classics

I was pleased to see a few early flowering snowdrops at RHS Harlow Carr. They were large and robust, and attractively offset by the red dogwood stems.

Hellebores have many variations but these are my favourites, so prettily shaded: pink tinged on the outside with lemon and white open blooms.

These little winter flowering cyclamens provided a vibrant splash of magenta. 

Monday, 7 January 2019

The burning bush

Here, as promised, are some of the photos I took at RHS Harlow Carr on NY Day. I was in search of colour and the most obvious contenders were the winter borders. There are vibrant stems of dogwood in reds, oranges and yellows, beautifully offset with textural evergreens and soft grasses. 

You can capture standard shots, as above, or abstracts like below. Either way, you can't miss those reds! 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

All aboard

Here's another photo taken when I was experimenting with my new camera on its first outing. It has a happy knack of making colours look really zingy, and this old boat made a good subject. The artwork, of colourful waves and sea creatures, was done by pupils at Saltaire Primary School and the boat has been planted up as a flower trough by the Hirstwood Regeneration Group. It sits beside the canal at Hirst Lock.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Fog on the Aire

Christmas Eve turned out to be a beautiful day: clear and cold, with a heavy frost. It was the first day I could get out with my new camera, having sussed out at least the basics of its operating system. What a treat it was, enjoying the cold, crisp air and experimenting with the new gear. I struggled to figure out the focusing system, so some of the photos didn't turn out all that well. This one was one of the better ones, showing the mist rising on the surface of the river as the sun rose and warmed things up.

Friday, 4 January 2019

That church again

A morning outing is always best for seeing Saltaire's historic church in a decent light. Later on, the sun comes round behind the church so its facade is in shadow. I usually stand nearer to take photos, to avoid all the clutter of the noticeboards, but I'm thinking I should perhaps sometimes show a wider context in some of my local photos. Victoria Road, where the church sits, is a dead-end so the area in front of the church acts as a turning circle, rather bumpy with the stone setts that originally made up all of the village's main streets. I had to move out of the way of at least three turning cars when I was trying to get this picture, even though it was quite early!

Then I got into conversation with a couple of other (not local) photographers, and when I mentioned I was taking pictures for my blog, one said: 'Oh, Salt and Light? I was looking at that this morning.' !
Fame at last!!

[By the way, did anyone watch the Agatha Christie drama 'The ABC Murders' over Christmas? It was mostly filmed in Yorkshire and partly in Saltaire. Albert Terrace became 'Andover'... a bit of an insult, I thought, for such an obviously northern mill village to be shifted so far south to Hampshire! I even spotted Salts Mill chimney in one shot. The scenes in Embsay were, I think, shot at the real Embsay station, not far from here. It's a heritage line and has retained its original fittings. Bradford City Hall, apparently, became 'Scotland Yard'.  I'm not sure that I enjoyed the series. Too grisly for my taste. ]