Thursday, 13 August 2009
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.