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Friday, 31 July 2009

Tong Park Dam

One of the best things about living in Saltaire is how quickly you can escape from the urban sprawl into green space. My weekend walk quickly took me into the fields beyond Baildon. This view looks over Tong Park Dam, with Hollins Hall golf course on the far right and Tong Park cricket ground (surely one of the most attractive of settings for a cricket field) to the left. There must be a history to Tong Park but I haven't been able to find it. There is a war memorial (more or less at the spot where I took the photo) commemorating some 20 or so men from the area who died in the two world wars. But whether it was a private estate or another little mill village or what, I haven't discovered. The Dam is marked on maps as a mill dam, so there must have been a mill there at some point.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Potted Meat Stick

My weekend walk took me through the centre of Baildon. Once upon a time Baildon was a proper village; now it's a suburban sprawl, full of people that commute to work in Leeds and Bradford. It spills down the hillside from the edge of the moors into the Aire valley. It's quite a pleasant place though, with a thriving centre and some nice pubs.

One of its proud features is the Potted Meat Stick. (So-called, I imagine, because of the pink mottled stone of its column. For those readers not from round here, potted meat is a kind of paté.) The Stick is actually a water fountain, though it no longer works (did it ever?) Apparently it
was given by Baron Amphlett of Somerset as a memorial to his mother-in-law, Frances Ferrand. She was the younger daughter of the Holdens, a leading Baildon family. The fountain was dismantled and almost lost, then rediscovered in pieces, restored and put in its present position in the village centre in 1986. Obviously some people have quite an attachment to it, but in my view it's not the most attractive of memorials. I hope my son-in-law will show a bit more taste!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


The weather was glorious last Saturday, developing into one of those quintessential summer days of blue sky and fluffy clouds. (Well, some of them were greyish early on, but they didn't rain a single drop.) I went for a long circular walk, a good 7 miles. I set off up the ridge behind Saltaire, from where you get wonderful views of Saltaire.

This panorama gives a good idea of the setting of Saltaire (especially if you click on it to make it bigger). You can pick out the two mill chimneys (1 Salts Mill 2 New Mill) and, at 3, the domed tower of Saltaire Church. You can also see how big the actual mill complex is, compared to the size of the village. Saltaire village only comprises the densely packed houses to the back and right of the mills. The houses in the foreground, far background, on the right of the church tower and the left of Salts Mill chimney are not part of Sir Titus's Saltaire.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Dates for your diary....

The arrival of September always has a bitter-sweetness to it....the sad end of summer and yet the start of a new phase. It's the new academic year, a fresh start - and even though that's no longer relevant for me, it still feels kind of exciting....autumn with its harvest fruitfulness, rich colours, a whole different feel from summer. All the more joy then, to live in Saltaire where, for several years now, the summer has been prolonged by a couple more weeks as the annual Saltaire Festival takes place. It always seems a very appropriate way to mark the seasonal transition.

Each year it gets bigger and arguably better, with concerts, theatre, exhibitions, events, street markets, a parade and the Saltaire Festival Ball (this year with a latin theme). Last year I especially enjoyed the Saltaire Arts Trail - a chance not only to see (and buy if you like) some terrific original artwork, paintings, ceramics and photographs but also to peek inside some of the houses in the village.

This is advance notice....the Saltaire Festival 2009 takes place from 10th - 20th September.... hope to see you there!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Doorstep cat

I think there are a lot of cats in Saltaire. I often see a rather sweet little ginger tabby in the street behind my own house. It once wandered in through my open back door and then, being suddenly startled, ran all the way up two flights of stairs and escaped out of the skylight onto the roof! Eek. But eventually it decided it was being silly out on the roof and came back inside.

This one was just sitting on the doorstep of a house - maybe waiting for its owner to come home. It didn't seem to mind having its photo taken, though it looked rather sternly at me in the way only cats can. And tried to pretend it was a shrub.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Don't tell Titus....

Sir Titus Salt, one of the great Victorian paternalists, was (like other civic leaders) concerned by the horrific conditions, moral decay and drunkenness in the cities. Indeed, that was one of the factors that prompted him to the extraordinary vision to build his new community of Saltaire. He was keen that his workers and tenants lived upright and healthy lives. Although not a teetotaller himself, as I said yesterday, he made sure that there was no public house or bar in the village.

It was only comparatively recently that the temperance rules were relaxed. The licensed bar and restaurant aptly called 'don't tell Titus..' opened in 2007, in the middle of the parade of shops on Victoria Road, almost opposite Salts Mill. Prior to that, the nearest pubs had been on Saltaire road, outside the village boundary.

Saturday, 25 July 2009


Sometimes it's fun to look very closely at the detail of Saltaire. I noticed this wonderful face carved above one of the windows of the Victoria Hall. He looks like the God of Wine or something, with all the vineleaves and grapes around him. Maybe it was a bit of cheek on the part of the stonemason, since it was well-known that Sir Titus Salt, though not a strict teetotaller, saw public houses as a source of social evil and would not permit one in his village.

Friday, 24 July 2009


One of the old lodging houses is undergoing an extensive renovation, as you can see from this photo. It is a Grade II listed building, as are all the houses in the main part of Saltaire. There are very strict guidelines for altering or repairing them, and the owners have to seek consent from the local Council planners.

This house has had some of the windows and the front door replaced with copies of the originals, and some of the original sash windows are being repaired. (Sash windows slide up and down and need complicated systems of rope pulleys in the frames.)
No uPVC here! It's hard to tell what is being done inside the house, but it looks like a major job. Despite being over 150 years old, the houses have good-sized rooms and high ceilings, compared with modern homes. I've never been inside one but these three-storey houses probably have five or six bedrooms, maybe more. They're pretty solid and soundly built and make lovely homes when sympathetically treated (especially if you want a big house but don't like gardening!)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Boarding houses

Back in Saltaire again - and I'm going to be getting worried if the weather continues so dull and damp. Grey flat light is no good to a photographer! The village can look a bit dour even on a quite nice day...Oh well, we moan about the British weather but we can't do anything to change it.

This photo shows some of the first dwellings to be built in Saltaire. Completed in 1854, these three-storey houses on Albert Terrace were intended as boarding houses for younger single workers. They were not especially popular, people preferring to lodge with families, and so eventually they were let as houses.

Albert Terrace, still with its original cobbles, and Albert Road (both named after Prince Albert) define two of the perimeters of the village. The main thoroughfare, along which all the major buildings stand, forms a third side of the grid and was called Victoria Street (now Road) to honour the Queen. Before Saltaire was built, this was a pre-existing lane, Dixon Mill Lane, which
originally led to a small corn mill on the site where Salt's larger mills were built.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Patterns in windows

Some of the newer London buildings afford such wonderful patterns and reflections; I could spend hours wandering and taking photos! I spotted these somewhere in the City, not far from the Museum of London.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Stairwell, Barbican Centre

Another London photo, this one taken in the Barbican Centre. Through the window you can see the installation 'I am so sorry. Goodbye, 2008' by Heather and Ivan Morison, a rather lovely wooden geodesic dome, part of the Radical Nature exhibition currently showing in the Barbican exhibition space.

I think you either love the Barbican complex or hate it - I love it. It was built in the late 1960s/early 1970's, a complex concrete modernist design of residential flats built around gardens, in the heart of the City of London, in an area that was badly bombed in WW2. The Barbican Arts Centre itself was opened rather later, in 1982. The complex is now Grade II listed, a site of special architectural interest.

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Houses of Parliament

A more conventional view of London, this is the Palace of Westminster - the Houses of Parliament, the seat of British government. Taken from Lambeth Bridge, the picture shows the beautiful gothic buildings, which were built over a period of 30 years following a fire in 1834. They were the work of architect Sir Charles Barry and his assistant, Augustus Welby Pugin. They incorporate parts of older buildings such as the medieval Westminster Hall. The tower on the left is known as the Victoria Tower, whilst to the far right you can see the Clock Tower, housing the bell called Big Ben.

There is a slight connection to Saltaire, in that Titus Salt was a Liberal MP in the House of Commons from 1859 to 1861, so he would regularly have attended when these buildings were very new. Parliament, however, was not to his liking and he resigned, citing ill-health. He was made a baronet by Queen Victoria in 1869, taking the title Sir Titus Salt of Saltaire.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Monument, City of London

I know this blog is supposed to be about Saltaire - and mostly it is - but I've been away much of this week having lovely holidays with friends, so for a few days my photos are covering more ground. (Anyway, it's been raining in Saltaire all week, so people tell me).

This lovely spiral is inside The Monument in the City of London. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke, the Monument was completed in 1677 and commemorates the Great Fire of London, which started in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane on Sunday 2nd September 1666. The fire raged for five days and destroyed thousands of houses, 87 churches and St Paul's Cathedral and made an estimated 100,000 people homeless. Only the buildings constructed of stone, like the Guildhall, survived the inferno.

The monument, 61 metres high, is a great Doric column of Portland stone set on a plinth. There are 311 steps inside, leading to a viewing platform (and yes, I climbed them all!)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Mirror image

There's a mirror just beside one of the gates to Salts Mill. I imagine it's there so drivers can see what might be coming round the corner (or maybe to help the security man on the gate?). I like the way it reflects the mill - it gives a different viewpoint on the subject.

Friday, 17 July 2009


The simple but graphic contemporary logo for Salts Mill is created in ironwork for a screen door in the public part of the Mill.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

View down George Street, Saltaire

This view, looking due north along George Street, shows how carefully the whole village of Saltaire was planned. The natural slope of the land has been used to create a dramatic view of the church, with the hillside as background, visible from the main road to Leeds which runs through the upper part of Saltaire.

It also shows the quality of the housing stock. Designed on a grid pattern for efficient land use, the houses are quite close together. Nevertheless the width of the roads in relation to the height of the houses ensures that each receives plenty of natural light. Supplied with water, gas, proper drainage and a private lavatory in the back yard, Saltaire must have seemed like paradise to the workers compared to the grim conditions in Bradford at the time.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Cow wash

Another image from the Great Yorkshire Show. Yea, OK, I know it's a bull...It was incredibly docile though, and seemed to like being hosed down. Perhaps it felt like a massage. This just goes to show how much effort goes into preparing the animals for showing and judging.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


I've now fulfilled a minor ambition by spending a day at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate. It's huge! So much to see... never realised how many breeds of sheep there are, not to mention cattle, pigs, rabbits etc. It was a grand day out, as they say round here.

I was utterly charmed by the alpacas, which are now farmed in Yorkshire for their wool. Sir Titus Salt would have been amazed, I'm sure, since it was alpaca wool imported from South America that made him his fortune. It is beautifully soft wool, so you can see why he was inspired to find a way of using it. The animals are rather cute, with gorgeous doe-eyes, but
at the same time extremely haughty-looking, nose in the air! I rather fell for this one. It had been largely shorn of its thick coat, except for its very woolly legs.

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Manchester Eye

Been to Manchester for the weekend. I took a few photos in Salford Quays, which is a fantastic area and very photogenic - but unfortunately the skies were largely monochrome grey. The images might be OK if I could work out how to put a more interesting sky in! (But my Photoshop skills are not quite that advanced yet.) It brightened up a bit today, so I took this pic of the Manchester Wheel. (They don't call it the Eye... that's London...so a bit of poetic licence here.)

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Colour on the canal

Is there such a thing as a boat spotter (as in train-spotter)? I bet there is and I think when I'm an old lady I shall become one. It would be a lovely hobby, sitting by a lock all day in the summer and watching the boats. What fascinates me is that no two boats are alike: some are cared for, some rather shabby; some elaborately decorated, others quite plain and functional. And although living here I see quite a few, nonetheless I always feel thrilled to see them.

Mostly the boats on the Leeds-Liverpool canal are traditional narrowboats, designed to neatly fit two abreast in the canal locks (or were the locks designed round the boats?). There are a few wider barges and a few pleasure cruisers, which tend to look a bit incongruous. (I'm sure there's a proper term for them
- but see how much I have to learn to become a good boat 'spotter'.)

This one is a lovely boat, the Harnser, registered in Tamworth - beautifully decorated and lovingly cared for. It brought a splash of colour to the rather monochrome stretch of water between the Mills.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Salts Wharf

Saltaire is part of the small town of Shipley, itself part of the City of Bradford Metropolitan district in West Yorkshire. Following the Leeds-Liverpool canal towpath for about half a mile eastwards from Saltaire, in the direction of Leeds, takes you down into the centre of Shipley. There are some imaginatively restored industrial buildings interspersed with new-builds in an area called Salts Wharf. This is also an overnight mooring for canal boats, so there are usually a couple tied up on the bank here.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Storm brewing over Salts Mill

Wonderful storm clouds yesterday evening on my way home - and, surprisingly, it didn't rain here. But when the sky is dark like that, yet the sun is still shining, the light is so good. I love seeing the Mill, so very familiar to me, looking totally different in different lights. Sometimes it looks wonderful to the naked eye but disappointing in photos... but I think this one did justice to what I was seeing.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Science & Art

Above the entrance to the Saltaire Institute (Victoria Hall) are the sculpted forms of two female figures representing Science (on the left) and Art (on the right). They were created by the Yorkshire-born sculptor Thomas Milnes, who also made the four lions I mentioned in an earlier post. They form the centrepiece of the very grand and pleasingly symmetrical frontage to the building - though it's a fair bet that lots of people who enter the building never even look up and notice them.

Like all the buildings in Saltaire, the Victoria Hall is built of an attractive, pale honey-coloured stone quarried locally. The interior of the building has recently been refurbished - the outside could now do with some attention, I think, as the sculpture is a looking little weather-worn.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Saltaire Club and Institute

Back to Saltaire and the third major building in the village, after Salts Mill and the church...
Now known as The Victoria Hall, this imposing
Italianate building was completed in 1871. It was both a social club for the village and an educational institute. Sir Titus Salt wanted to provide both the village children and his adult workers with the means to improve themselves. He had already built schools for boys and girls, and now he complemented these buildings on the west side of Victoria Road with the Institute opposite. Its extensive facilities included a reading room, library, science laboratory, two lecture halls, a gymnasium, various games rooms, classrooms and a rifle drill room!

The Victoria Hall still provides a valuable social focus for Saltaire, regularly hosting antiques fairs, craft fairs, keep fit sessions, concerts, dances, wedding receptions and private parties. It also houses the Victorian Reed Organ Museum. A number of local clubs and societies use the Hall for their meetings. The tradition of having a Grand Ball has recently been revived as part of the annual Saltaire Festival.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Canal, road and rail in Bingley

Not a great photo but it does show how the 'by-pass' was squeezed in between the canal (which had to be moved) and the railway in Bingley. (To see a couple of photos showing the road under construction, click this link.) It's odd how, before something like that is done, you can never imagine how it could be achieved - and then, only a couple of years later, it's really hard to recall what it used to be like. It's arguable whether it has solved any problems. The traffic moves much faster through Bingley, but then still grinds to a halt in Shipley and Saltaire, and no-one can agree on the solution. There is talk of a road tunnel under Saltaire village, but I honestly can't see how that would be feasible. The arguments continue....Just goes to show that in every generation there are issues. For the Victorians it was the squalor of the city, for us its the traffic. And now, as then, we really need people of vision.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Canal over river

Another such beautiful day, thought it would be a waste not to get out for a walk, so I headed off, as usual, along the canalbank... lots of people had the same idea: ramblers, amblers, dogwalkers and cyclists. The sun was so strong overhead that it wasn't great for photos, but I took a few anyway! I'm fascinated by how the river, canal, railway and roads all interweave in this part of the Aire valley, which is quite narrow. A few years ago, in a great feat of civil engineering, they actually moved part of the canal several yards sideways to make room for a new fast road through Bingley, (the next town up the valley from Saltaire).

The Georgians must have had great civil engineers too. Here you can see the Dowley Gap aqueduct ,
built in the 1770s, that carries the canal over the river, about half-a-mile outside Saltaire.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Cricket in Roberts Park

Saltaire Park (now Roberts Park) was created on the north side of the river, to provide an area of open space where Salt's workers and their families could walk and play - though the many rules ensured this was done in a disciplined and socially-ordered way. Opened in 1871, a third of the 14-acre Park was given over to the cricket ground, home of the Saltaire Cricket Club. The Cricket Club was established in 1869 and cricket is still played regularly here, a sight more or less unchanged for 138 years.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Blue window

It's a challenge to find a new or different angle on Saltaire - so much of it has been photographed so often, especially the major buildings like the church and Mill. But it is often interesting to look 'up' or 'down', to notice the things that often get overlooked when we concentrate solely on an eye-level view.

The Non-conformist Congregational Church does not have the beautiful stained glass windows that one would expect in an Anglican church, but I think this window above the main door makes an interesting image.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The jewel in the crown

Saltaire United Reformed Church (URC), originally Saltaire Congregational Church, is an architectural gem. The most distinctive building in Saltaire, as iconic in its way as Salts Mill itself, it occupies a carefully chosen site opposite the Mill on Victoria Road. Salt's own Christian faith was the bedrock of his life and he was anxious to ensure that his workers and tenants were well-provided for spiritually. Opened in 1859, the church gives the impression of a magnificent temple, with six Corinthian columns supporting a huge tower. It is set back from the road down a long driveway, which serves to emphasise its splendour. It seated 600 people and the interior, although lacking religious symbols (being a Non-conformist chapel) is as elaborate as the exterior. (For photo of interior, see June 22).

Annoyingly, I always find it a difficult building to capture successfully in camera. More often than not there are vehicles parked on the driveway, and for much of the day the light is behind the church, making shadows in the wrong places when the sun is strong or a very dull frontage on a cloudy day. But lo and behold - a beautiful morning... and no cars! Hurray!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

A perfect reflection

The air was wonderfully refreshed after an overnight shower, so my morning 'commute' to work was most pleasant. I have the happy option of walking along the towpath from my home to my workplace on fine summer days. No crowded trains or traffic jams for me! Aren't I lucky? I caught this amazing reflection of Salts Mill in the canal. The water was quite still, which is unusual along that stretch. There is nearly always a breeze coming down the valley... another good reason for siting the Mill where it is, as the prevailing westerly winds would have blown the smoke from the chimneys away from the village.
(You can see the last remaining covered walkway between the mills here too - not especially attractive unfortunately, but no doubt useful).

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

1853 Gallery

I watched a fascinating programme about David Hockney last night, in the wonderful "Imagine" series on BBC. What so excites me about Hockney is that he is on a journey, exploring, experimenting, learning through his art. His work shifts and turns and yet retains some kind of core thread through all the different media and choices of subject matter over the years. His most recent paintings of the Yorkshire Wolds could be the most consummate works of his career.

The 1853 Gallery in Salts Mill houses the world's largest permanent collection of
David Hockney paintings, including some of his earliest work, photographic 'joiners', bright abstracts, portraits, prints and drawings and some of his more recent Yorkshire landscapes. It is one of several galleries in the Mill, one of which displays a collection of opera stage-sets by Hockney. The Gallery also has a beautiful collection of Bermantoft pottery.

The entrepreneur Jonathan Silver, who bought Salts Mill in 1987 as a disused and near-derelict building, was a friend of David Hockney. They both attended Bradford Grammar School, albeit several years apart. Apparently the schoolboy Silver first met Hockney, by then an established artist, when he asked him to design the cover of the school magazine. They developed a lifelong friendship. Jonathan Silver sadly died of cancer in 1997 but the Silver family still manage the Saltaire enterprise, with
continuing vision and commitment.

(According to the TV programme, Hockney started painting his Yorkshire paintings largely for Jonathan, because he wanted to be here when his friend was ill and wanted to cheer him up.)