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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

East Riddlesden Hall

This 17th century manor house is the nearest National Trust property to Saltaire. (The National Trust is a large UK charity which buys, restores and maintains historic old properties and areas of beautiful countryside and coast). East Riddlesden Hall was built in the 1600s, on the site of an older medieval dwelling, by a merchant and clothier, James Murgatroyd, and is furnished inside as it would have been in the 1600s. The part that you see in the picture is a later wing, built in 1692 by Edmund Starkie, James Murgatroyd's great-grandson, which was demolished in 1905, leaving only one wall standing. The Hall is supposed to be haunted by several ghosts, including the Grey Lady. Her husband is said to have discovered her with her lover, so he then punished her by starving her to death.

It does have quite a sombre air about it, because
the stonework of the whole building has been blackened by pollution. Local mills and factories, and the coal-fires of houses, meant that urban areas of Britain were very smoky and polluted for 150 years from the start of the Industrial Revolution until laws were passed in the 1960s to control emissions. Even as a child I can remember 'smog' - a terrible black fog that came down sometimes, full of smoke and grit, so thick you couldn't see more than a few feet in front of you. Some of the buildings in Saltaire village are still black, though others have had the stonework cleaned.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Aire valley view

Another photo taken on my walk on Saturday, 5 or 6 miles up the valley from Saltaire. This is looking across the valley of the River Aire, more or less south-east. It looks so peaceful with the sheep grazing - and in many ways it is, but it's surprisingly close to urban development (residential and light industrial) and somewhere in the picture, though unseen, is a fast, wide A-road along the valley, and the railway line too.

The picture is taken in the grounds of East Riddlesden Hall, a 17th century manor house that is now in the care of the National Trust. I called in there with one thing in mind and that was to sample the very good tea-room! I wasn't disappointed. They make extremely good home-made soup with lovely bread - and tasty cakes too. Just the thing when you're doing a long walk.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Canalside homes, Riddlesden

Saturday was a glorious early-autumn day, sunny but cool. The trees are beginning to have some autumn colour. Another week or two and I think they will be spectacular. (Is that because it's been so dry lately?) I went for a long walk along the canal, which I do enjoy. I passed these pretty little canalside homes on the way into Riddlesden. I think you must have to sign a pledge that you will spend hours in your garden if you live there! All of them were beautifully kept. It must be lovely to have the water at the bottom of your garden. For one thing there's always something to look at - people passing by on the towpath, ducks, narrowboats... in fact some of the homes alongside the canal have their own moorings and their own boats. And the water itself is always changing. In this stretch it was calm like a mirror but in other places it was shimmering in the breeze.

Most of the houses in the photo have only one storey and we call them bungalows in the UK (I don't know if that term is used in other places). It's the kind of house I was brought up in as a child. My dad always used to say they got fed-up with waiting for the builder to put the second storey on, so they told him to 'bung a low' roof on it! But I don't know if that's the real reason for the name. It's an odd name though, isn't it?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Bracken Hall Centre

Up on Shipley Glen, there is also the interesting Bracken Hall Countryside Centre to explore. Run by Bradford Council's Museum Services, it has displays showing the natural history of the area, and fascinating descriptions of the social history - from the mysterious cup and ring stones that dot the moor, to the Victorian visitors who flocked here. It also has one of my personal favourites - Spot the Worm - no, not really a worm called Spot! (Though wouldn't that be great?) Just a glass wormery (there's a proper term, but I'm afraid I don't know it) full of soil, in which you can observe the activities of the humble but very important earthworm.

[Sorry about the dull skies - it's been cloudy for days now. :-( ]

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Shipley Glen

Sometimes I just get the urge to escape the built-up area and head for the hills. Luckily that's not difficult in Saltaire - you can walk across Roberts Park and climb up to Shipley Glen and Baildon Moor in a matter of minutes. Generations of Saltaire villagers have done just that. Shipley Glen in Victorian times was a pleasure ground, with a tramway (still there, though currently under repair) and all manner of delights, including at one time a toboggan run. In fact the Pleasure Ground Amusements only finally closed in 2005. It's less commercialised now, though there is a decent pub and café and usually an ice-cream van parked up. If you can manage the climb up to the trig point on Baildon Moor, there are wonderful views of the surrounding area. At this time of year the heather is in bloom, covering the whole area in a delightful purple haze.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Festival crowds

One last photo taken at the recent Saltaire Festival... this shows the crowds on Victoria Road, just beside Salts Mill entrance. I've made it monochrome as an experiment, because it reminds me of old photographs I've seen of crowds of mill workers hurrying home up Victoria Road at the end of a shift. It's good to see the old cobblestones pounded again by lots of feet!

I don't know how many people visited Saltaire during the Festival this year, but with the weather being pretty good I should think the turnout was quite high. I didn't see any trouble; people seemed to be getting along very good-naturedly (although I think plenty of beer was consumed!). I like events that have something for everyone and Saltaire Festival has a good mix of art, culture, music, food, fun for the children and plenty to look at and buy. It was a bit of a shame that Roberts Park couldn't really be used this year (because it's being extensively renovated) but I'm sure it will return better than ever - and the funfair and market still took place on land behind the local fire-station. It seemed nearly as good, even if people did have to risk life and limb crossing the busy main road!

I didn't catch many of the 'performance' events this year, but blogger Paul has some great shots on his site at yorkshiredailyphoto.com, so do have a look there.

Now another summer turns into autumn... and I'm hoping to keep up the photo a day, though it will be more of a challenge as the days get shorter. Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

My kind of car

This my kind of car... a bright yellow MG sports car, shown amongst a varied selection of 'Classic Cars' at Northcliffe Motors - another Saltaire Festival event. Sorry to all the car fanatics out there that I didn't take note of exactly the model or its age or anything that would be useful to know. I was just seduced by its lovely lines and the stripes, and the colour of course - who could resist? I don't know who owns it either....but if you're male, unattached, aged between about 50 and 60, and as good-looking as your car, do please get in touch.... ;-)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Two blue kites coming gently to earth

In Salts Mill Gallery 2, as part of Saltaire Festival, there was an engaging collection of textile pictures by Janet Bolton. She uses fabric, rather than paint, to create attractive and quite detailed pictures which are very unusual and individual. Perhaps they're the kind of thing that you either love or that leave you cold. Personally I thought they were delightful. Close scrutiny revealed how she uses the intrinsic nature of the fabric, along with clever little stitches and attached objects, to create a miniature story in each frame. I enjoyed the sense of movement and life they conveyed.

(Click on the pic to see it in more detail.)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Uniting the Nations

Here's Katie Jones adding the finishing touches to the brilliant and unique 'stained glass window' she and Sheron Caton-Rose designed and created in the window of Vicars bistro during Saltaire Festival. Its globe design reflected the Festival theme "Uniting the Nations". Vicars Bistro is an interesting place in itself - a café/bistro/community centre serving great food and much more besides - read the review in my link for more information. (And, incidentally, the review is from another good Saltaire blog 'them-apples.co.uk'.)

Whilst this is a complicated photo, I decided I rather liked the collage effect produced by the reflections of people in the street, the customers in the café and the people walking past the far window. Kind of fits the theme too....

Monday, 21 September 2009

Piazza stage

Is it just me or is it hard to take good photos of crowds? I wanted to feature the Piazza stage, as it is really the heart of the Saltaire Festival final weekend. It featured some good music, to suit most tastes, from brass band to rock'n'roll - mostly lively stuff. The band playing when I took this photo were called Wang Dang Doodle. It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday and the crowds flocked to Saltaire... I'm sure the organisers will feel it's been a very successful Festival 2009.

The Piazza is in the centre of Saltaire, against the backdrop of Salts Mill - its day job is as the Caroline Street car park, but it had an earlier incarnation as the site of Saltaire's Sunday School - a vast building, opened in 1876, which had 25 classrooms and took 800 students. The building was demolished in 1972 - to make way for the car park - a sad comment on modern society? (Maybe, but at least you can now see the Mill in its full glory...and occasionally find a space to park your car.)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Food, glorious food

Once again Saltaire Festival hosts a continental market on Exhibition Road. There's a wonderful array of food and other goods for sale - both to eat on the hoof, and to take home. My own favourites are the plump olives - a myriad of different kinds, including the luscious Greek Kalamata olives and the gorgeous, garlicky, herby, green olives glistening with oil. The French pastries and tarts looked attractive and tempting too. You can buy authentic saffron-yellow paella, crêpes with a good slug of brandy, all manner of spicy sausages and cheeses, unusual meats (kangaroo anyone?), biscuits and sweets - including those oh-so-sweet Turkish Delights and Italian nougat. It's not particularly cheap, but the food does seem to be of good quality this year. It's a delight to one's senses, anyway, to wander through the stalls looking and smelling, even if you don't buy.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Festival Children's Parade

Friday was the Children's Parade, as part of the Saltaire Festival. At least it was a dry day for them, though sadly the sun didn't shine. Children from the two local schools, Wycliffe CofE Primary School and Saltaire Primary School, took part, celebrating this year’s festival theme ‘Uniting Nations’ in a colourful parade around the streets of Saltaire. It must be hard work for the schools involved to prepare for the event - they have only been back a week since the summer holidays. Nevertheless, the costumes were bright and the children seemed excited to be part of it. There were a lot of proud parents watching (and grandparents too, by the looks of it) . And with a samba band and some dancing, it was a lively event.

(I am choosing to post a photograph, but if anyone objects to seeing their children on the blog, please let me know. I realise that these days it is a tricky subject and that's why I have chosen a long shot rather than one which shows the children's faces in close-up.)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Costume Cavalcade

I popped into the Victoria Hall yesterday to see a display of costumes from the collection at West Yorkshire Playhouse, exhibited as part of the Saltaire Festival. It was fascinating to see the changes in dress over the centuries. I was especially interested to see costumes from the Victorian and Edwardian eras - shown in my photo. I don't suppose the average Saltaire village woman wore such smart clothes, but no doubt members of Sir Titus' family and friends were just as elegantly dressed. (The costumes are, incidentally, available to hire from the theatre in Leeds, in case you fancy adopting a different persona sometime.)

Equally fascinating was a collection of pattern books, scrap books and brochures related to Salts Mill and Bradford College. Some of the brochures showed the inside of the Mill in the early 20th century. Even then the workers enjoyed quite a few perks including medical facilities on site. There was such a shortage of skilled labour after the 2nd World War that women were brought in from other areas and lived in a hostel in the New Mill during the week.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Corner shop

Unlike today's urban planners, the architects of Saltaire scattered numerous corner shops amongst the houses, particularly in the later stages of the village's development. I'm told that at one time there were 40 shops in the village. Few remain, apart from those on Victoria Road. This general store on Titus Street still seems to be thriving, and appears little changed on the outside.... but most of the shops have closed - though you can still see evidence of them if you are observant. Funnily enough, a row of houses on Gordon Terrace, on the main Bradford to Keighley road, was converted into shops between 1900 and 1910, and now provides Saltaire's busiest shopping area.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


It's not only during the Festival that Saltaire becomes a magnet for art-lovers. There are, of course, permanent exhibitions in Salts Mill, including a large collection of works by the Bradford-born artist David Hockney (see July 1). But the shops in the mill and around the village also have some wonderful examples of contemporary arts and crafts.

It's hard to miss the shop called ArtParade, situated as it is right on the corner of Victoria Road, next to the railway station. It has a varied selection of handmade craftwork including cards, gifts, accessories and some beautiful - and very reasonably priced - modern jewellery.
Displayed in the lower gallery are artists' prints and fine art photographs (representing, among others, Ian Beesley, a local photographer of some note). During the Festival there is an exhibition of ceramic sculptures and paintings by Julia Odell.

The parade of shops on Victoria Road has changed little since Victorian times, except that the goods sold have moved up a notch - fewer things you actually need now, but certainly things you might desire! No 1 Victoria Road was at one time a general grocery store.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Red, white and blue

I thought this window was lovely. It's a house on Edward Street, one of the open houses on the Saltaire Arts Trail, and that's why it has the cheery bunting trimming. Maybe I was just primed to notice the red, white and blue, having seen the end of the 'Last Night of the Proms' on the wide-screen in Bradford city centre on Saturday evening, with all the flag-waving.

Edward Street was named after Titus Salt's third son (1837-903), who had the longest association with his father's mill. It is a street of workmen's cottages, completed in 1854.

(If you look very closely you can see the photo is also a self-portrait, whoops!)

Monday, 14 September 2009

Artist at work

One of the highlights of the Saltaire Festival is the Saltaire Arts Trail. For two weekends, 16 of the village houses are opening their doors - and hallways, kitchens, sitting rooms and even in some cases bedrooms - as unique gallery spaces to display some absolutely stunning examples of art and crafts, mostly by local artists. It's a wonderful opportunity to see some truly inspirational work... even to buy some if the fancy takes you. As many of the artists are on site, it's also a great chance to chat and find out how they produce their pieces and what inspires them.

My photograph shows the painter David Starley working on a canvas in the garden of 75 Albert Road. The house itself was well worth seeing - one room had an entire wall filled with the most beautiful bookcase. And there were some lovely pieces displayed, including some beautiful wooden vases/sculptures by Chris Ryner, who uses the flaws in the wood as an integral part of the finished piece.

As well as the open houses, there are also exhibitions and a Makers' Fair in the Victoria Hall. It's not too late to explore the Trail as it's also open next weekend, 19 & 20 September.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Rainbow dancers

What a wonderful start to the Saltaire Festival 2009 - a warm, sunny late-summer's day. I was out and about in the village and caught a performance by the Saltaire-based Rainbow Dancers. They dance Morris and Clog dances traditional to the North of England, using garlands, hankies and 'sticks'. The music is supplied by a small band of musicians playing melodeons (a kind of accordion), tin whistles, a drum and tambourines. Step-clog dancing involves fast and intricate steps, performed wearing clogs with wooden soles and leather uppers. Wooden soled clogs were once common in industrial areas, particularly in northern England and step-clog dancing has been performed in these areas since the middle of the 19th century. It’s harder than it looks (I know, I tried it myself many years ago!) but it's a fun way to keep fit!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Royal Yorkshire Jubilee Exhibition

Looking in the opposite direction from where I took yesterday's photo, you see this view. You can see the Victoria Hall tower in the distance. The large building behind the hedge is Shipley College's Exhibition Building, which was built by Sir Titus Salt's son Titus Salt Junior in 1887, and first used as the village's School of Art and Science.It is named after the Royal Yorkshire Jubilee Exhibition, held in Saltaire in 1887. The Exhibition was mounted in honour of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and to raise funds for the expansion of the educational facilities in Saltaire. It covered a 12 acre site behind the Victoria Hall, running as far as what is now Baker Street. It was opened by Princess Beatrice (Queen Victoria's youngest daughter), the then Princess Royal, on 6 May 1887. With numerous exhibition halls, a concert hall that seated 3000 people and housed a huge pipe organ, a bandstand, cafe and outdoor pleasure grounds that apparently included a toboggan run, it must have brought plenty of visitors into Saltaire. Victoria Road (just beside what is now the shop 'Magic Number 3') was graced by an enormous triumphal arch!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Caroline Street Social Club

Just outside the boundary of Titus Salt's Saltaire (far enough to escape the 'no alcohol' rule!) is the Caroline Street Social Club. I've never been in, but it looks a convivial sort of place, and I know they have music nights and line dancing and that kind of thing. At one time I'm sure it would have been the social hub of the village. It looks as though it has probably seen better days, a bit shabby and old-fashioned now, but it's not always the gloss that counts - it's the friendships you make that matter.
I think it's the only place
in Saltaire where you can sit outside and have a beer on a nice day. (OK, there's Fanny's, but everyone stands outside there and it's right on the main road, so it's noisy). I don't know the origins of the Caroline Street Club and they don't seem to have a website, but I think it was a Working Men's Club with links to a textile trades union. Maybe someone could enlighten me?

Thursday, 10 September 2009


I have said before that it's the small details of Saltaire that really please me most, and here is one of those details - a cowl on top of the school building. There are several of these and I'm not sure if they're original, though they look similar in shape to those featured on early engravings I've seen. They appear to be made of lead? - it's a wonder they've survived! But aren't they attractive? Form, as well as function.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Saltaire's Factory Schools

It's a bit remiss of me not to have posted a photo of Saltaire's schools as yet. That's mainly because I haven't yet taken a picture that I've been pleased with. It's a tricky subject; the frontage faces east so it gets the morning light but the trees (presumably once a very attractive feature) are these days so huge that they overshadow the building. On a dull day, they take all the light. When it's sunny, they make very deep shadows, as you can see. The answer, clearly, is to wait until winter for that special photo! But in the meantime this important building deserves an airing.

The 1844 Factory Act, which applied to textile mills, said that children from 8 to 13 could not be employed for more than six and a half hours a day (why the half, one wonders?). It had also been stipulated that they should receive education each day. In Saltaire, the children were initially taught in the Dining Hall, but purpose-built schools were opened in 1868, one for boys and one for girls, taking upwards of 700 children.
I don't know whether it's fact or myth but I've heard that those children who worked in the mill came to school (after their shift at the mill - try that on today's kids!) through a tunnel, built from Salts Mill up to the schools. The schools were of advanced design, having central heating, gas lights and lots of cupboards, plus a large playground at the rear.

They are in a prominent position on Victoria Road, opposite the Victoria Hall, though that was completed a little later. Set back from the road in landscaped gardens, the area forms a square, a small green oasis in the pattern of the village.

The building was initially for elementary education and later became Salt's High Schools. It now forms part of Shipley College, our local FE college, along with other buildings in the village like the Dining Hall.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Ice-Cream Man

Here in Saltaire, we still have frequent visits from the ice-cream man, selling ice-cream from his van. It's another of those traditions - along with the cinema organ and getting milk delivered in glass bottles - that is rapidly dying out. His van in itself must be a classic...H reg...how old is that? I know some people hate the van's chimes, finding them intrusive, but I always think it's a cheering sound. I remember the thrill, as a child staying at my great aunt's house, of running out to the street with a hot little coin in my palm and exchanging it for a whippy ice-cream cone. And looking at the local kids, especially the littlest ones, there is evidently still the same thrill. (Yes, you can buy ice-cream from the supermarket, but not the whippy ones with a chocolate flake!) I sometimes think I should do my bit to support the old custom, but then I look at my waistline....

Monday, 7 September 2009

Wurlitzer Organ

I've always been a bit of a fan of tinkly piano music and concert organs. (The first LP I ever bought was a pianist called Charlie Kunz. I know that dates me!) So on Sunday I spent a delightful afternoon in Saltaire's Victoria Hall at a concert, sponsored by the Cinema Organ Society (North), listening to John Mann playing a wonderfully varied selection of music on the recently installed Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.

The organ is a Wurlitzer Opus 2208, originally installed in the Gaumont Theatre Oldham in 1937. (It has some additional pipe sets from elsewhere). Organs such as these were common in theatres and cinemas, often rising up from beneath the stage - as indeed the Victoria Hall organ thrillingly does! They used to accompany silent movies in the 1920s before becoming solo instruments in their own right.

After the concert I had the privilege of looking below stage at the 'works' - the pipes and bellows and the enormous organ lift mechanism, not to mention a load of electronics. Very fascinating and very complicated!

There are regular concerts scheduled (the next on Friday 18 Sept at 7.30, as part of Saltaire Festival) - and dances too, for the more nimble folks. If you want a dose of wholesome enjoyment and nostalgia, I do recommend it. There's nothing more uplifting to the spirits than people following their passion and communicating it to others. Thanks to all at COS North!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Victoria Hall Tower

This is the imposing tower of the Victoria Hall, Saltaire - originally the Saltaire Club and Institute (see also 8 July), built in Italianate style and opened in 1871. Again, the signature decorative motif of two arches and a roundel is used in the windows of the tower. The windows of the Hall itself bear more resemblance to the windows of most of the earlier houses in the village (see for example 28 June), though the Hall also has the wonderful carved faces (see 25 July) on each surround.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Mill door

Isn't this door amazing? Everything about Salts Mill is done on a vast scale, even the doors. Apparently when Titus Salt first commissioned his new mill, he inspected the architects Lockwood and Mawson's preparatory drawings and pronounced them "not half large enough".

It was only fairly recently that I began to notice how the decorative motifs in Saltaire are repeated in various forms. Compare the decoration on this door to that above the window in the picture on 3 September. The Mill was opened in 1853 - and I presume this door is original to the building - whereas the houses on Albert Road weren't finished until 1868. But it seems to me that the motif
from the Mill - two arches with a roundel at the top - is echoed in the fan-shaped window surrounds of the houses.

Friday, 4 September 2009

House on Albert Road

Following on from yesterday, this shows one of the substantial properties on Albert Road, Saltaire, on the corner of Caroline Street. It's a rather grand semi-detached house, one of several on the road. They were built for managers in the mill, and I think also accommodated other professionals like teachers and clergy, who could afford the relatively high rent. In between the large houses at the top and bottom of Albert Road, there is also a lovely terrace of overlookers' houses, even more attractive (I think) than the older ones further into the village. One can imagine how pleasing this introduction to Saltaire was for travellers coming in along the Aire valley from the west, as this would have been the first road they saw. It's obscured now by the school that was built by Shipley Board in the 1870s, and by more recent housing.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Window, Albert Road

This one is for a friend of mine! It's a window in one of the houses on Albert Road. Albert Road forms the western boundary of the original village of Saltaire. Most of its houses are substantially bigger and grander than those in the rest of the village, and have larger gardens. They were completed in 1868, mostly intended for the senior managers and executives of the mill, and would have enjoyed uninterrupted views westwards out to the countryside. (Sadly, not any longer).

These small decorative details are one of the things I like best about Saltaire, and I enjoy noticing how the patterns and styles are echoed around the village. This motif is different from the decoration found on the earlier houses but - as we shall see - it is a motif that's repeated in various ways throughout the village.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Castles and Roses

Here's another example of the traditional 'castles and roses' narrow boat decoration, this time on the shutter of a window . Both this image and yesterday's photo of water cans were taken on a boat called the Harnser that was moored in Saltaire a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Traditional Canal Ware

There is a strong tradition of painted canalware, which is an art-form all to itself. It stems from the type of decoration used on the brightly painted canal narrow boats in the 19th century.

Although different painters (and regions) have slightly different styles, there are some traditional elements. They are known as 'roses & castles', although the actual designs feature not only roses but also other flowers like daisies and forget-me-nots. The 'castles' often depict versions of genuine landscapes. Elements suggesting the cargo carried - ears of corn, for example - may also feature. Both the flowers and landscapes are highly stylised, painted with a minimum of bold brush-strokes to achieve the desired effect.

Not only was the exterior of the traditional narrow boat painted, but inside the cabin where the boatman and family lived, every available surface including many of the utensils was decorated. A multitude of brass fittings, 'lace' plates with pierced edges, crocheted throws and fancy curtain edgings adorned the cabin, making the cramped living space cosy and colourful.