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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A hint of Venice

The wonderful Italianate tower of the New Mill is modelled on the campanile of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. Unreasonably decorative for its purpose, we can only assume that its designer wished to enhance the view along Victoria Road. Whenever I catch a glimpse of it, it lifts my spirits.

Monday, 29 June 2009

River Aire & the New Mill

Yesterday being such a gorgeous day, I went for a walk, crossing the River Aire beside Saltaire's New Mill. This was built in 1868 as an extra spinning mill, linked to Salts Mill by three covered walkways across the canal (only one of which now remains). In 1868, Victoria Road crossed the River Aire by means of a bridge supported on cast iron columns. The bridge was demolished in the 1950s as it was judged unsafe, and the only way across the river now is by a footbridge.

I think this part of the river is rather attractive, as the water rushes over the weir. A
s well as the ubiquitous mallard ducks, I was thrilled to see a grey heron (just visible, about a third of the way up the left side of the photograph) and a grey wagtail (which is prettily yellow underneath, along with its grey). I am always happily surprised at how the countryside encroaches into this urban area.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Saltaire cottage

Here's a well-kept little cottage. Although only two storeys, it's one of the 'better' village houses, as you can see from its four-panelled door and little front garden. It was built for an 'overlooker' and family, in the late 1850's. When it was built, it would have had a parlour (sitting room), scullery kitchen, three bedrooms and a cellar, with a backyard and private outside lavatory (as did all the Saltaire houses - a considerable improvement from the overcrowded and insanitory conditions in the city of Bradford at the time.) It's hard to tell now whether the doors and windows are original or not, but they are in the original style. You can just see from the photo that, although part of a terrace, the house next door is different, being three storeys high. This is typical of many of the streets, which contain a mix of housing.

All the streets in Saltaire were built over a period of about 15 years from 1854. The building work started at the lower end of the village beside the railway line and spread southwards in phases (going up the hillside, away from the railway and canal). It's clear from the layout that,
right from its beginning, Saltaire was conceived, planned and developed as a whole.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Red door

Another indicator of the status of Saltaire's Victorian tenants was the kind of front door they had. Some doors had three panels; the more up-market had four, as in the photo. Some doors opened directly onto the street, whereas the best houses had a short path through a little front garden up to the front door. Many of the original doors have been replaced in the years since the houses were built, so there is quite a mish-mash of styles throughout the village, some more attractive than others. The village is now a Conservation Area, so there are stiff planning regulations in place and people are being encouraged to reinstate doors and windows in the original style. I dare say that doesn't come cheap though, and I'm not sure whether you can get grants towards the cost any more.

For some reason I really like taking photographs of doors of all kinds, in Saltaire and further afield....I have begun to amass quite a collection. Maybe one day I'll put them all together on a big poster. I'm not sure what the attraction is - something to do with the mystery of what might be hidden behind the door? Or just that they're a nice symmetrical subject and don't tend to move too fast or pull a funny face at the very moment the shutter clicks?

Friday, 26 June 2009

Canal in Saltaire

Just in case you were thinking it's dreadfully urban here, take a look at this. This photo is taken immediately behind Saltaire URC and beside the Mills. It's the Leeds-Liverpool canal, one of the reasons Sir Titus Salt chose this location for his 'model' village, since the alpaca wool was brought by barge from Liverpool.
I love having the canal so close by. There are some beautiful (and easy) walks along the towpath, and lots of interesting things to see, especially in the summer when there are often narrowboats chugging up and down. The
water, green space and gentle pace of life on the canal is so calming, a wonderful counterpoint to the busyness of urban life. I like to imagine Victorian ladies in their long skirts, taking a stroll and enjoying much the same views as I can see.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Houses on George Street

Of all the streets in Saltaire, this is probably my favourite. It's the lower end of George Street, one of the longest streets, which stretches right from the top of the village to the bottom. Houses in Saltaire vary in size and quality, according to the relative status of their 19th century tenants. These have small front gardens as well as backyards, and more spacious interiors. They were for the 'overlookers' - the foremen in the Mill.

Of course, the village layout was not designed with car ownership in mind, and one of the modern-day problems in Saltaire is car parking. It's virtually impossible to get a street photograph without cars. I did pretty well here!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Salt and Hockney

Here's the great man himself - or at any rate a depiction of him....Sir Titus Salt. Marvellous beard, I think! This marble bust sits in the 1853 gallery in Salts Mill, which also displays a large collection of original artworks by David Hockney (as you can see from the painting behind). I love to wander round this gallery. It's a huge space, part of what is known as the West Mill, but it's only a small fraction of the whole enormous mill complex. They have a wonderful selection of art books and artists materials for sale. And there are invariably several huge vases of lilies dotted about, so that the air is always richly perfumed. Whenever I smell lilies now, I am always transported 'home' to Saltaire.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Saltaire street plan

The sign board in Caroline Street Car park, to help visitors find their way around. Saltaire is not a big village (less than 500 square metres or about 1/4 mile square) and is built on a grid pattern, so in theory it should be relatively easy to navigate. Most of the streets are named after members of Sir Titus Salt's family - so it can be a bit tricky to remember where Ada Street is, as opposed to Fanny Street or Helen Street. For another nice map, see the visitbradford.com website.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Celebrations - like buses?

Nothing worth celebrating for ages and then three come along at once! Scargill on Saturday and yesterday I visited two flower festivals, one celebrating the centenary of my own church (St. Peter's, Shipley) and the second at Saltaire URC, celebrating 150 years of the church's history.

Sir Titus Salt himself was a committed Christian and supported a small
non-conformist Christian fellowship that began to meet in a house in Saltaire in 1854, and then later in the Saltaire Dining Room. In 1857 the Congregational church was formally constituted and by this stage had a full-time minister. Titus Salt believed his success was God-given and that he should use his wealth to the glory of God and the betterment of the community. He paid for the building of a church as imposing as his Mill. Built in Italianate style by the architects Lockwood and Mawson, it cost £16,000 and was opened in 1859.

I will put up a photo of the exterior of the church one day, but this image shows the ornate interior - the west end of the church, with the choir stalls and organ. Notice the amazing ormolu chandelier.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Scargill House, near Kettlewell

Yesterday I made a brief foray into the "beyond Saltaire"...up into the Yorkshire Dales - Wharfedale to be precise. I visited Scargill House, which is a Christian community near the village of Kettlewell. It is the 50th anniversary of its founding, celebrated with a garden party and an open-air service of worship, thanksgiving and rededication. As well as enjoying the celebrations and seeing lots of friends, it was good to revisit the lovely open spaces and greenery of Wharfedale.
The celebrations were especially significant because last autumn the original trustees put the house up for sale because it was no longer financially viable. A group of concerned Christians banded together to 'save' Scargill and ensure that it keeps going as an international Christian community and centre for teaching, renewal and transformation. There is a lot of work to be done before it can reopen - fundraising(!), major building repairs and improvements, and the forming of a new core community. But there is a real sense of God at work in what is happening and a clear sense of vision and commitment. As well as the impact that a visit to Scargill (or Lee Abbey or Iona or any similar Christian community) can have on individuals or church groups, I believe such places have important things to say in our society, modelling values of community and stewardship that are crucial in the individualistic and materialistic world we inhabit.

The photograph shows Scargill's Chapel,
designed by architect George Pace in a Scandinavian style and built in 1960. It is now a listed building.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Four lions

Four lions guard the Saltaire Institute (now The Victoria Hall). I believe they were part of an installation by sculptor T. Milnes, intended for Trafalgar Square in London but rejected. Sir Titus purchased them (cheap - he was a canny businessman!) for Saltaire. Their names are Vigilance, Determination, Peace (licking his paw) and War - though their name plates are almost faded away.

Actually, they're really hard to photograph well. They are on plinths well above head height. I should be brave/professional and go with a stepladder one day... except that I'd have to set it up in the middle of Victoria Road and would probably get run over. They all need a good clean too, being green with lichen.....green lion is not a good look. And poor old Vigilance is having a very tough job doing his duty, as he is almost completely shrouded in a tree now. Still doing his best to look snooty, though.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Salts Mill

Another iconic view of Saltaire - this is the front elevation of Salts Mill. The mill was built by Sir Titus Salt, designed by the Bradford architects Lockwood and Mawson, and opened in 1853. When completed, it was the largest industrial building in the world by total floor area and employed over 3000 workers, initially producing fine cloth made from llama and alpaca wool. The mill closed in 1986, when the British wool textile trade had effectively collapsed. The mill was purchased in 1987 by a local entrepreneur, the late Jonathan Silver, and was transformed into Salts Mill. It is a grade II* listed building. It is now home to the 1853 gallery and one of the largest collections of art by David Hockney (a Yorkshire-born artist), as well as a variety of shops and restaurants. It is also the headquarters of Pace plc, leaders in digital TV technology.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

View from the roost

I took this photo at 7.15 this morning - and a good job I did, as the lovely sunshine soon disappeared. It's the view from my very own back door. Salts Mill chimney dominates the village, and always has done. I suppose in days past, when the whole village worked there, one might have had mixed feelings about seeing the workplace every time you looked out. But I rather like the view, and especially being able to see the green hills beyond. That is Hope Hill and Baildon Moor. It's a nice thing about living in Saltaire - there are some terrific walks directly from here up onto the moors or a gentler stroll along the canal bank. Pity about the wire netting spoiling my view - it attempts to stop balls being kicked into our backyards from the playground (but fails miserably). There are often children in the yard retrieving footballs - not that I mind... I do smile at them, don't want them to think I'm an old witch!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Albert Terrace, Saltaire

This is one of the classic views of Saltaire, looking along Albert Terrace towards Salts Mill - and, incidentally, the first view you get if you arrive by train. Not many of the original cobbled streets remain (not strictly cobbles either, but stone setts).

Just to explain a little - Saltaire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a well-preserved Victorian industrial village, founded in 1853 by Sir Titus Salt for his mill workers. It centres on the huge mill complex, which used to weave fine cloth of wool and alpaca. Sir Titus had five mills in Bradford, but was concerned at the appalling conditions in which people lived. He determined to move his entire business outside the city, building a model village on a greenfield site he purchased in Shipley. It was ideally served by the railway, canal and river, and the village he built had everything his workers needed, from cradle to grave. It was named Salt-Aire after Sir Titus himself, and the River Aire which flows beside the mills.