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Monday, 31 August 2009

Messing about in a boat

Ah, Bank Holiday weekend, and what could be nicer than messing about in a boat? Here's the Festina Lente, moored between the mills in Saltaire.

This mooring is simply for visitors to Saltaire, rather than overnight stops, but half-a-mile back towards Shipley you can moor overnight at Ashley (Salts) Wharf for up to seven days. Otherwise you have to go all the way to Bingley (and negotiate various locks and swing bridges in the process) to find specified overnight moorings. It strikes me that you need to be fairly organised on a boat, so as not to be stuck somewhere inhospitable at nightfall!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Stable cottages

There are these cottages alongside the stables, which enjoy a very pleasant south-facing aspect onto the drive of the Congregational Church. I'm not sure whether these were staff accommodation for servants or whether they originally formed part of the Stables and have since been converted into cottages. (Someone has told me there's a plan of the building in Salts Mill - I will go and investigate - I want to make sure the info I'm putting on my blog is as accurate as possible.)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Stables

When Titus Salt and members of the family were in Saltaire, they apparently used the Stables, at the bottom of Victoria Road opposite the mill entrance. Although the archway is probably big enough for a carriage, the size of the stables suggests that horses were kept there for personal use rather than for carrying goods related to the business. I read somewhere that Titus Salt regularly used to ride from his home in Lightcliffe to work in Saltaire (motor cars not then having been invented - or surely he would have had one).

Thanks to Dave Shaw and 'Palymap' for correcting the information on this building. In some places it is shown as The Office House and Stables, but I am told that has been discovered to be incorrect and the correct name is simply The Stables.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Salt's Private Office

Sir Titus Salt himself did not live in Saltaire. He and his family moved in 1844 to a magnificent estate called Crow Nest, in Lightcliffe, southwest of Bradford. At first the house was rented but later he bought it and lived there until his death in 1876. However, he also retained private quarters and a personal office in Salts Mill, overlooking the canal and park, with its own entrance, seen here.

Crow Nest mansion was sold after Sir Titus's death. It then had a chequered history - stone was quarried in the grounds and soldiers billeted there during WW1, after which the house fell into decay and was demolished in the 1950s. You can, however, have a round of golf on a 9-hole course created on what was once part of the estate grounds.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The bits no-one sees

I find it amazing to realise that the 'public' bits of Salts Mill - the galleries, restaurants and shops that you can wander around for hours (see yesterday, for example) are all contained in just one wing of the Mill, the West Mill. It's awesome - vast long rooms, high ceilings, huge windows, row upon row of cast-iron pillars, stone and brick. The southern frontage (see 19 June) - of which the West Mill is half - is 545ft (166m) long and six storeys high. But in fact the whole Mill building is much, much bigger than that, a good 20 times the size of the West Mill, I would estimate.

The weaving sheds fell silent in 1986 and the Mill might have remained deserted and decaying but for the vision of the late Jonathan Silver. Now some of the floorspace is used by Pace Electronics, though the photo above gives a glimpse of the parts that few people see. This part has seen better days, but thank goodness the majority of the Mill has been saved from dereliction.

Incidentally, I came across a fascinating report on the internet about the period when the Mill's future was uncertain. See this link if you're interested.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Inside the West Mill

This is another view of the ground floor of the West Mill, the publicly accessible part of Salts Mill. (See also July 1). This level is called the 1853 Gallery to commemorate the year the Mill officially opened.

The opening, on Titus Salt's 50th birthday, 20 September 1853, was marked by a grand banquet, held in the Combing Shed (just behind the offices seen in my photo a few days ago). There were reputedly 3750 guests (!) of whom 2440 were his workers, along with the Earl of Harewood and two mayors (Bradford and Leeds). They were treated to lavish hospitality, polishing off vast quantities of beef, lamb, chicken,
ham, potted meat, roast duck, partridges, 30 brace of grouse, 50 pigeon pies, half a ton of potatoes, 320 plum puddings, tartlets, jellies, cakes and all manner of exotic fruits, nuts and sweetmeats.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Here's another piece of history - and another piece that is getting worn away by thousands of feet marching over it. It's the huge (though getting smaller!) doormat at the entrance to Salts Mill.

Within 16 years of Sir Titus Salt's death in 1876, his business was bankrupt. Markets for the kind of textiles the Mill produced had collapsed, and only one of Sir Titus's sons, Edward, was by that stage still involved in the business. In 1893 the company was taken over by four Bradford businessmen, John Maddocks, John Rhodes, James Roberts and Isaac Smith. They modernised the factory and again it thrived, eventually becoming known as Salt's (Saltaire) Ltd. Its fortunes
(and ownership) ebbed and flowed, production surviving through the two World Wars. The business finally became part of the Illingworth Morris Group, who closed the Mill in 1986.

Three of the four businessmen are commemorated in the village (Maddocks Street, Rhodes Street and Roberts Park) but as far as I know only this mat remains (at least in the publicly accessible areas) to remind us of the Illingworth Morris name.

Monday, 24 August 2009


I have always been fascinated by these stone steps which lead down from Victoria Road in Saltaire to Salts Mill itself. Over the years they have been eroded by thousands of pairs of feet, and are now worn and undulating. When the Mill was thriving they would have echoed to the patter of sturdy clogs. Now it's more likely to be tourists' trainers, but still the steps are recording their story. (I wonder how long it will be before some Health and Safety person decides they need resurfacing? And all that history will be gone.)

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Spotted in someone's back yard in Saltaire yesterday - sunflowers seem to be quite popular 'backyard plants' round here. You can see why....they are so cheerful. They remind me of 'Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men' from my early childhood - just needs a smiley face in the middle.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Office block

The wing of Salts Mill facing onto Victoria Road housed the mill offices. It is suitably ornate and pleasingly symmetrical, in the Italianate style that characterises much of Saltaire and that was popular at the time. It has a similarity to Osborne House, Queen Victoria's residence on the Isle of Wight, which was built only a few years before Saltaire. The administrative block has three arches decorating the roofline, which may have incorporated a bell to regulate working hours at the mill. It certainly makes a suitably imposing main entrance to the Mill.

Friday, 21 August 2009


I love this view of Salts Mill chimney. It shows just how massive it is. 250 ft (76.2m) high, it emitted smoke and exhaust gases from the furnaces, which consumed 50 tons of coal a day. They powered the mill's boilers to produce the steam required for the mill's 1,200 looms and other machinery. The chimney originally had an ornate top section but it was removed in the 1970s for safety reasons.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Salts Hospital

One of my friends said I ought to feature Salts Hospital on the blog - and I do agree, as it's a handsome building. There are quite a few bits of Saltaire that we haven't even ventured into yet, including the area south of the main Saltaire Road, which is where the Hospital is. One of the reasons is that there are some huge trees in that area, which in summer are so heavy with foliage that it makes it all rather dark and obscures the attractive buildings. The other reason is obvious from this photo... so I think I'll show you the Hospital (now apartments) when it's been spruced up with a new coat of paint and is minus the pipework. (Perhaps I should be charging Alpha Scaffolding for the advertising space!)

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Another red door

Some of my recent photos don't seem to have had much colour in them, so I thought I'd brighten things up with this door, on Ada Street, Saltaire. This is the second red door I've featured (see also 27 June) but this one has only three panels, typical of the smaller Saltaire houses. Because of the listed status of the buildings there are restrictions on the paint colours you can use....cheery telephone box red is obviously OK!

Ada Street, as I said yesterday, was named after Titus Salt's youngest daughter, born in 1853. She died in 1935, making her also the longest-lived of his children. The street was completed in 1857 and would have been home to some of the ordinary workers in the Mill.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Saltaire village houses

These streets, built on a north-south axis between Titus Street and Caroline Street, were completed in 1857. They were named after children of Titus Salt: Whitlam (1846-51), his sixth son, who died of measles aged 4; Mary (1849-51), his third daughter, who died aged 2, and Helen (1852-1924), his fourth daughter, who never married and eventually became her father's secretary. There is a fourth street in the same 'block' but not visible in my photo: Ada Street, named after Titus's fifth daughter and youngest child (1853-1935).

The houses are the smaller 'workmen's cottages', simpler and more austere in design than many of the other dwellings. They originally consisted of two bedrooms, a living room, a small scullery and a cellar. They have no front gardens, the front doors opening direct onto the street, but all have small backyards opening on to narrow alleys. The 1871 census suggests an occupancy level
on average of five people per house, so they must have been quite cramped. Nevertheless, there is an orderliness to the housing that is quite attractive in its own way.

I am struck by how even these ordinary little streets are thoughtfully designed within the vision for the overall look of Saltaire. Rather than having blank gable ends, like most rows of terraced houses, each street is 'topped off' by houses that face onto the main arterial streets. Still pleasing, after all these years....

Monday, 17 August 2009


There are some interesting vistas as you wander round Saltaire, especially if you move sightly off the main thoroughfares. Here you can glimpse the Victoria Hall through an archway. For some reason - perhaps purely decorative, perhaps functional (though I can't imagine what function is served) - the houses off Titus Street, just beside the Victoria Hall, have stone arches over the access to the backs. As far as I am aware, this feature is not repeated anywhere else in the village. I suppose it's a way of visually linking the adjacent terraces, in an area that is 'on show' because of its proximity to the main public buildings. Anyway, it does provide a pleasing frame for the view of the Hall's tower.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Plants a-plenty

One of the delights of wandering round Saltaire is in stumbling across a small corner full of colour and interest. I came across this profusion of flowers in one of the back yards (not even the front garden). Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to brighten and soften the rough old stone walls with planters and hanging baskets - and carefully planned the colour scheme too. I thought it looked really attractive and I went on my way feeling quite uplifted.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Wash day

Continuing with the washing theme (!) I spotted this little grouping of objects in the Abbey House Museum in Kirkstall. It shows a huge mangle, used for wringing the water out of clothes, along with a dollytub (and a posser - the stick-thingy inside used for stirring up the washing) and a washboard, used for rubbing the clothes on to get them clean. There's a wonderful website about the history of washing at this link.

Monday was traditionally wash-day - and it did take all day. Why Monday? Theories abound, but it was perhaps because the cold left-overs from Sunday's roast dinner meant the day could be free of cooking. Or maybe because the family usually had only one change of clothes and the clean ones were put on on Sunday. Certainly the whole cycle of washing, drying and ironing was a huge task, consuming a large part of the week, and many women hated it.

The mangle evokes memories of my own childhood, helping my great aunt to put washing through her wringer. I was fascinated to see the clothes coming out squashed hard and flat! Interestingly, I have discovered that Keighley, just up the Aire valley from here, was one of the major centres of mangle manufacturing. (You really wanted to know that, didn't you?)

PS: I've done a bit of a Photoshop paint effect on the photo; I thought the photo was reminiscent of a painting.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Washing lines

Presumably because Titus Salt wanted Saltaire look smart, attractive and orderly - he had, after all spent a fortune on his vision for a 'model' township - it is said that there were various rules of conduct for the tenants. As I said yesterday, he provided his villagers with state-of-the-(Victorian)-art Baths and a Wash-house in the centre of the village. Some say that because of this, he tried to dissuade the villagers from hanging washing across the streets and yards. Whether this is true or not, I doubt, nor whether he was successful in keeping the village looking pristine but there is no such rule nowadays. I actually think the lines of washing can look quite attractive...rather like bunting, bringing a touch of colour and movement to the essentially monochrome pattern and straight lines of the houses and streets.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Silver Square

There is an odd bit of open space right in the middle of the residential part of Saltaire village. Now called Silver Square in memory of the late Jonathan Silver (see July 1), the area was originally the site of the Baths and Wash-house. Opened in July 1863, it had 24 hot and cold 'slipper baths', segregated by sex and with separate entrances for men and women, a Turkish bath and facilities for washing and drying clothes. It was praised by public health reformers but disliked by Saltaire's residents, who preferred to bathe and do their washing in their own homes (or perhaps down in the river!) maybe because there was a charge for using the amenities.

The building closed in the 1890s and was converted into homes. These were then pulled down in 1936. It is one of the few parts of the original Saltaire to have been demolished, and it has left this rather boring little paved square.
You'd think someone could come up with an idea for making better use of the space or at least making it more attractive. It's enlivened only by the cheery old-style red telephone box. Hooray for red telephone boxes! Let's hope BT sees the sense in keeping this one, and doesn't replace it with a soul-less glass kiosk.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

In the heart of Saltaire

If you turn round on the spot where I took yesterday's photo of the waterbus, this is the view you get. The Leeds-Liverpool canal runs right through the heart of Saltaire. To the left (unseen) is the River Aire and Roberts Park. Straight ahead, beyond the Victoria Road bridge, is the New Mill chimney (see also 30 June). Salts Mill and the main village are uphill to the right, with the church on the right bank of the canal (also unseen in this photo).

I really think this is such a picturesque spot. There's nearly always something going on - a boat moored, the resident pair of swans gliding by, children feeding the ducks, cyclists, people strolling.... It's a great place for watching the world go by.

As a small child at the seaside, I once asked my mum why we were sitting on a bench 'doing nothing'. She said it was nice to watch the world go by. After a long time, really bored, I apparently said "Mum, when's it coming?" But now I too like sitting watching the world go by.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


There used to be a regular waterbus service on the Leeds-Liverpool canal from Shipley (via Saltaire) to Bingley until about seven years ago, when it ceased. Now a company called Dream Achievers Ltd, which is part of an educational charity, has started the service again, on (I think) Thursdays and Sundays. You can also hire the boat for group trips. I'm so pleased to see the boat running again, all freshly painted and smart. It provides a splash of colour and interest along the local stretch of canal - and a canal trip is a really pleasant way of spending a couple of relaxing hours. On this stretch, there are three locks and a swing bridge to negotiate, which all makes for a bit of fun.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Temple Newsam Park

This was my eventual destination on Saturday, Temple Newsam Park on the southern edge of Leeds. The House itself is Tudor-Jacobean, dating from the 1500s, with major rebuilds through the years. It is chiefly notable for being the birthplace of Lord Darnley, the ill-fated husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. It's an imposing but not especially photogenic house from the outside, though the interior is interesting. However, it's set in a huge park (1500 acres), with a Home Farm that houses rare breeds of farm animals, beautiful gardens landscaped in the 18th century by the famous gardener 'Capability Brown', pasture and woodland. It made a good day out - I walked miles!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Leeds Corn Exchange

Enjoyed another beautiful English summer's day yesterday - blue sky, fluffy white clouds, warm but not too hot. I ventured across to Leeds (about 10 miles away from Saltaire) intending to visit Temple Newsam House (which I did). On the way I popped in to see the newly refurbished Corn Exchange building in Leeds city centre - it's impressive. It's reputed to be one of Britain's finest Victorian buildings and is Grade 1 listed. This photo reminded me of a peacock's tail, somehow. The building is round, with a domed roof, giving it this interesting structural pattern. The doors are small shop units which open only to the inside of the building - a legacy from its days as a corn exchange.

There has been some controversy about the refurbishment. The Corn Exchange used to have lots of little shops selling clothes, jewellery and ephemera - it was a kind of funky, 'alternative' place. The traders all got turfed out and the lower floor is now a restaurant, but there are virtually no other shops... blame the credit crunch, maybe?

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Salt Family Coat of Arms

The Salt Family Coat of Arms, adopted before Sir Titus became a baronet, can be seen in several places in Saltaire but most clearly above the Dining Hall, carved in stone . It's described as: 'Azure, a chevron indented between two mullets and a demi ostrich holding in the beak a horse shoe in base or'. The motto was Quid Non Deo Juvante (which apparently means What [can a man] not [do] with God helping).

Just out of interest, I looked up some of the meanings of the heraldic symbols:
Azure (blue) = loyalty & truth
Chevron = protection - for those who have accomplished some faithful service
Mullets (the five-pointed stars) = divine quality bestowed from above
Ostrich = willing obedience & serenity
Horseshoe = good luck & protection
Or (gold or yellow) = generosity

(Owing to my particular age, I am more familiar with the term mullet as applied to hair-dos! As favoured by certain popstars and footballers in the 70s! So initially the description above made me smile...)

Friday, 7 August 2009

Not quite Venice...

I happen to think this new(ish) building, The Waterfront, just alongside the Salts Mill complex but not - strictly speaking - in Saltaire itself, is something of a triumph in terms of how well it fits with the general 'feel' of the older buildings. I don't know who designed it, but it has just enough of the characteristics of the older mill buildings, without being a parody. (Do I mean parody? Or is there a better word? Anyway, I mean without it looking totally naff and pseudo-Victorian.) It was built a few years ago for Filtronic plc though I don't think that company uses the building now. Quite a nice place to work, don't you think, overlooking the canal? It's not quite Venice...but I do love to see the reflections in the water, often making the ordinary look rather beautiful.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Salts Mill - framed

Hurray! Had an absolute photo-fest on the way to work yesterday morning as it was such a beautiful, warm, sunny morning... I can tell you that I did not want to go to work and would quite happily have carried on along the canal-bank, adventuring. But, being a dutiful sort of person, I eventually found my way to the office.

I sometimes have photo themes in my head - I decided to look for 'frames' yesterday and found this - the mills framed in a bit of the gate on the canal towpath. I'm not really sure what the gates are there for. They are placed every so often across the width of the towpath, and only walkers and cyclists can get through the narrow gap (cyclists have to wiggle a bit). Maybe it's to stop horses or motorbikes but, since the gates themselves can be opened, that seems a bit daft. Life is full of mysteries!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Answer - the Saltaire Dining Hall

This is the answer to yesterday's puzzle....the door seals up a tunnel, which - when Salts Mill was thriving - led from the Mill, under Victoria Road and into the Saltaire Dining Hall, shown here.

Titus Salt was a caring employer, but also a wise businessman, realising that his workers would be more productive if they were well-fed. The Works Dining Room provided subsidised meals at a set price - a bowl of porridge and milk was 1d (one old penny), a helping of meat and potato pie was 2d, and a cup of tea was 1d.
The Hall seated between 700 and 800 people. It cost £3600 to build and was paid for by a levy on Saltaire tenants. Completed in 1854, it is one of the oldest buildings in the village, after the Mill itself. It meant that workers who had to travel into Saltaire (before the housing was built) could get a decent meal every day.

I don't know whether they grew their own veg and potatoes for the Dining Hall, but it is possible.
The driveway at the side leads to some allotment gardens. The building is now part of Shipley College.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Here's another Saltaire photo, taken at the main entrance to Salts Mill, looking out on to the front yard. The mystery concerns the big green arched door in the middle.... where does it lead? What was it for?

Monday, 3 August 2009

Kirkstall Abbey

I don't often do monochrome images but this seemed to lend itself to that treatment. It shows the Norman columns and arches of the nave of Kirkstall Abbey, in Leeds, a well-preserved example of a Cistercian monastery. It was built in the 12th century (1152 onwards), on the bank of the River Aire, as a 'daughter' abbey to Fountains Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales. It was surrendered in 1539 to Henry VIII's commisioners, in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. After that it passed into private hands and much of the stone was taken for other buildings. During the 18th century the romantic ruins attracted many artists - it was painted by Turner. It was eventually gifted to Leeds City Council and restored in Victorian times. Since then it has provided a most attractive public park and venue for concerts and plays. The gatehouse is a museum of Victorian life in Leeds.

I spent a happy couple of hours wandering here yesterday, though it is hard to imagine it being an isolated monastery - the busy A65 now runs between the abbey and its gatehouse and the park provides a green oasis in what is really quite an urban area. There were lots of people enjoying the sunshine; one family had even set up a barbecue for their picnic by the river.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Fleeting moment

Even though Saltaire is deeply familiar to me, I still enjoy a walk around its streets. I usually discover something 'new'....this shrub was only in flower for a week or two, transforming quite an ordinary window into something rather pretty.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Room for another one?

If you had any doubt about whether two narrowboats would fit in a lock, you should have been here at Field Locks last Saturday. These two proved it - and it is a very snug fit. The longer boat at the back, the Elizabeth, from Brayford Pool in Lincoln (so it was quite a long way from home) only just fitted length-wise as well. It had to manoeuvre carefully to avoid being swamped by the water pouring through the lock gates, as the two boats made their way down through the staircase.

The shorter boat was called the Nemesis - I'm not sure where that was registered. Anyone who has read "Narrow Dog to Carcassonne" by Terry Darlington (about a couple taking a trip through the French canals on an English narrowboat, accompanied by their very thin whippet, Jim) would have been delighted to see the very thin dog travelling with the Nemesis! (visible on the bank).

Field Locks was the farthest point on my long walk. It's about 3 miles east of Saltaire along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. It was built c1774-77 by the engineers Brindley and Longbotham, and is now Grade II listed. As it is a staircase of three locks (a 3-rise), getting a boat up or down requires careful attention to doing everything in the right order.... quite a challenge for my friend, who is employed as the lock-keeper here in the summer months.