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Monday, 30 November 2009

Saltaire's Almshouses

People are always going on about 'Monochrome Monday' and suchlike... I've still not sussed how you join in these blogfests, but it's Monday, so here's one of my few monochrome images.

Sir Titus Salt had 45 almshouses built on Victoria Road, Saltaire in 1868. These were to provide accommodation for the aged and infirm, initially selected by Sir Titus himself and later by a board of trustees. Residents lived rent free and received a weekly pension. The almshouses are arranged in a rectangle around a formal garden, named Alexandra Square (after Alexandra of Denmark, the very popular young Princess of Wales at that time). The architecture has Italianate features in common with the rest of Saltaire, but leans towards the Victorian Gothic, with pointed arches and rock-faced stone. Incidentally, the oft-repeated motif of two arches and a roundel can be seen here too (see my post of 5 September).

It is, in principle, a very attractive part of Saltaire - the one and two-storey almshouses, whilst quite ornate, are charming. Sadly, it seems a rather neglected area these days. The trees
(including horse chestnuts, willow and some evergreens), which once must have been very attractive, are now enormous and cut out a lot of light as well as hiding the almshouses from view. (The birch in the picture, for example, should surely never have been allowed to root so close to the house wall?) The grass can't grow properly under the trees and is sparse and untidy, the roses are straggly, the pavements are being forced up by the tree roots. Even though Victoria Road is the main thoroughfare through Saltaire, this section is badly lit and very dark at night. Overall I think the area has a very gloomy, sad feel to it. As far as I know, that the cottages are now mostly in private ownership and some of them could do with a bit of attention.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Orange berries, grey door

I spotted another pale grey door, this time at the top end of George Street in Saltaire. Grey must be one of the Saltaire Conservation Area 'approved colours'. I have taken quite a liking to this shade. It looks really attractive with these orange berries draped around it. I think this plant is some kind of cotoneaster. It has so many berries - does that foretell a harsh winter? It looks quite Christmassy, doesn't it - and I suppose we should be turning our thoughts in that direction. Saltaire (thankfully) doesn't go in for Christmas lights strung up everywhere - but I hope to show you a few hints of Christmas from around the village in the next few weeks.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Grey gate

Here's a pretty little 150 years old Saltaire cottage, this one somewhere in the middle of George Street (one of the longest streets, which runs north-south through the village).

It is inevitably a greater challenge in the wintertime to keep up 'a photo a day', at least in this neck of the woods. When I set out for work it's dark; when I come home from work it's dark...so that only leaves weekends for photography and even then the weather can be awful. (I realise this isn't such a problem for all you retired bloggers...can't wait to join you!) So I'm going to be raiding my archives sometimes for pictures taken on more photogenic days. I think it's lovely to be cheered up by sunshine and flowers when it's dull and miserable outside.

I particularly liked the combination of colours here - that soft grey paint with the greens and purply pinks. The gardens in Saltaire may be small but people usually make the most of them. They've even squeezed in a little bench here, so you can sit with your coffee and a newspaper and idly watch the world go by.

Friday, 27 November 2009

A taxing business.....

On the opposite side of the canal from where I took yesterday's photo, you find this building. It is the next-door neighbour to Saltaire's New Mill - with only a large car park in between them. It's much more modern in style than anything else in the area, though it doesn't sit too badly within its locale in my opinion, as it nestles fairly low down on the riverbank.

Anyway, what the building lacks in charm it makes up for in importance...because this, folks, is where all your hard-earned cash ends up, at least if you are a UK taxpayer. It is the government's (HM Revenue & Customs) main banking centre for the whole of the UK. All the tax and VAT paid by individuals and businesses comes here to be processed and banked. It has a highly-automated system for opening envelopes, scanning, photographing and sorting cheques, VAT forms and correspondence and then making sure the money goes to the right places.

I don't suppose many of us actually like paying taxes - but without this centre, hospitals would grind to a halt, teachers wouldn't be paid and civilisation as we know it may well crumble...So keep on smiling and paying up!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Morning light

At this time of year the early morning light can be fabulous (at least, when it's not raining, which it often is)....Though as I write that I am thinking, hmm, maybe it's fabulous all the year round - except that I don't often see it. It's just at this time of year that the arrival of daylight coincides with me walking to work. Anyway, one particular morning recently I took this photo of some of the old buildings by the Leeds-Liverpool canal, with Salts Mill and its chimney in the background. The sky was full of quite stormy clouds but the low sun found its way through, giving this real glow to the stonework. There is often a boat moored in this spot, as it is one of the designated overnight moorings - and that just adds to the charm.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Wall picture

Walking through Shipley (the small town in which Saltaire sits) I passed this wall picture, painted on the gable end of a row of terraced houses. It caused quite a lot of controversy when it was first unveiled in 2002, but I guess people have got used to it by now. Created as part of Bradford's (unsuccessful) bid to become a European City of Culture, it was painted by a German artist Osman Bol, along with Amerjeat Kaur and Shaun Fagan of Metro Arts (a council-run arts project). At first glance you would think it was a local scene showing Salts Mill and the canal. In fact the scene is supposed to have elements of both Shipley/Saltaire and Hamm, which is Bradford's 'twin town' in Germany, and is an artistic rather than a literal view. The children depicted are the children who lived in the house at the time.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Salts Village Bakery

As I was walking around Saltaire in the fog early on Saturday, I thought how enticing the bakery looked, with its warm lighting and the fresh, morning stock of loaves and croissants in the window. I have often thought that at the weekend I should do as the French do and nip out for fresh supplies before breakfast and then relax with a large milky coffee and brioches. Somehow I never get round to doing that. I do, however, enjoy the bakery's produce. I can particularly recommend a local speciality called Yorkshire Curd Tart, which is a variation on a cheesecake, traditionally made with the curds left over from cheese-making and enhanced with spices and currants.

Sunday, 22 November 2009


My fellow blogger Clueless in Boston speculated that the top of the chimney of Salts Mill must disappear sometimes in the fog. How right she - apologies, he - is! And just to prove it, since it was foggy yesterday morning, I ran out to take a photo to demonstrate the phenomenon. Actually, although it was pretty murky it wasn't especially cold, so I enjoyed wandering round seeing how different everything looked. Saltaire in the fog is particularly atmospheric. And thankfully these days fog isn't toxic like it was in the 19th century when it was laden with soot.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Sunny path

We had storms and gales in the UK last weekend (and continuing..). It was worst in the south but on Saturday it was a bit grim here - very windy and raining. Sunday, however, turned out to be a very pleasant day, so I went for a walk - did three or four miles, I suppose. It's surprising how many good walks I am discovering, in my quest to explore and record this immediate locality for my blog. This time I climbed the hill to the south of Saltaire. Much of that area is a park, Northcliffe, but then I came back along an ancient pathway down into the valley, through fields, which is where I took this photo.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

South elevation of Salts Mill

This photograph shows the vast south-facing elevation of Salts Mill, Saltaire, from a vantage point slightly up the valley side. It shows how enormous the Mill is: almost 550 ft (168m) long on this side. Just imagine it at the height of its textile production....The Weaving Shed housed 1200 looms and there were 4000 workers, who produced 30,000 yards (that's nearly 27.5 kilometers!) of alpaca and worsted cloth every day. That would make a few suits.

The West Mill, which now contains shops and galleries, stretches from the right-hand tower of the twin towers to the far left of the building. The other part of the building and all that lies hidden behind is now used by businesses, primarily Pace Electronics.

(See my earlier posts for more pictures and details about Salts Mill.)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Cabinet, Salts Mill

This pleasing display can be found in the bookshop on the second floor of Salts Mill. One of the interesting things about the Mill is that it has all sorts of unusual objects on display.... well, not self-consciously 'on display' but generally scattered about the place, giving it a style and atmosphere all of its own. The wooden bench is a sort of church pew (with only three legs, I note!) but perhaps it originates from the Mill. The cabinet is filled with bottles that at one time held chemicals. It looks like something you might find in an old-fashioned chemist's shop, but I imagine the chemicals were used in the textile manufacturing process. And the print is a David Hockney poster, which references the 1853 Gallery downstairs and the Opera sets upstairs.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Saltaire from Salts Mill

This is the view from the window on the other side of the bookshop on the second floor of Salts Mill, looking south over the village of Saltaire. The large building with the tower is the Victoria Hall (see my post of 8 July). The road on the right, where the cars are, is Victoria Road. Rather spoiling the view, right in the centre, is the Caroline Street car park, which is where the Sunday School once stood. The allotments in the foreground have been there since the village was built and are still cultivated. None of the houses in the village have gardens big enough to grow vegetables, so the allotments have always been popular.

You may also be able to see a church tower in the background to the right. That is St Peter's Church, Shipley, which was opened in 1909 to provide for the explosion of housing in the Shipley/Saltaire/NabWood area in the early part of the 20th century. It's the church where I worship, so one day I'll show some pictures of that.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Window, Salts Mill

The West Mill at Salts Mill, as I have said before, contains the 1853 Gallery, restaurants and several shops. Virtually the whole of one floor is occupied by a wonderful bookshop, where I can lose myself for hours browsing the shelves.

Nearly as enticing as the books are the views through the windows. The windows are enormous - they must have needed good light to facilitate whatever part of the textile manufacturing process went on in this part of the building. It makes for a bright, airy feel to the gallery, even though it retains many elements of its industrial past like the stone flagged floors and cast-iron pillars.

This view shows the glass roof of the Combing Shed and the ornate top of the tower of the New Mill - see my post of 30 June for more details of this lovely Italianate tower.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Baildon Green

Baildon Green is a hamlet about a mile north-east of Saltaire. Most of the cottages here date from the 18th and 19th century. It grew up around a small quarry and, like Saltaire, a textile mill, albeit a much smaller one than Salts. The Church on the Green started in 1858 as a chapel made from three cottages. They were bought for £5 each by three Christian Brethren who gave the chapel to the local community. It is still in use.

I'm always surprised by the villagey feel of this little area. It seems like it might be out in the Yorkshire Dales. (Notice the goat browsing). In fact it's very suburban, with a good view over the city of Bradford and modern housing estates in close proximity. But it's still charming.

On the Bradford council website (www.bradford.gov.uk, under C for Conservation) there is an interesting leaflet about the Baildon Green Conservation Area that tells something of the area's history - but unfortunately I can't make a link to it.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


These orange berries (another Rowan tree) caught my eye one morning. The orange against the blue sky looked so vibrant. I thought this would perhaps make a good image to enlarge for a wall mural, as seems to be fashionable in certain home magazines at the moment...though I doubt that would be quite the thing for my Victorian terraced house!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Hirst Woods

It's raining again! And its Friday 13th! And its snowing on Asta in Denmark. So to cheer us all up, I've chosen a sunny picture today...

I really enjoy walking in the local woods near
Saltaire. It's a very pleasant route, along the canal for about half a mile, then a meandering wander through the woods to the point where the canal and river intersect (see my post of 6 July) and then back a slightly different way, through the centre of the village. You can take as long as you want about it; there are lots of little paths to explore. It's a favourite with people walking their dogs, and joggers too.

Hirst Woods, as it's called, is a patch of ancient woodland and therefore home to many different varieties of tree, with their associated wildlife.
In the spring it is carpeted with bluebells, but I love it in the autumn too - on a sunny day, the woodland floor seems to glow because of the bright beech leaves. There are lots of birds (which can be seen more easily if you avoid the paths of the dogs and joggers!) I've seen woodpeckers and nuthatches, as well as the more common woodland birds, like tits, chaffinches and robins. There are the usual water birds on the canal - mostly mallard ducks, a family of resident mute swans and sometimes geese (of indeterminate origin). But I have seen goosander, even a kingfisher - and there is currently a very showy mandarin duck that seems to believe he's a mallard.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Saltaire, the Railway Station 2009

And this is Saltaire Station today.... Reopened in 1984, the line carries trains (now electric) mainly from Leeds and Bradford to Skipton, though some go right over to the west coast at Morecambe. It connects with the historic Worth Valley railway line at Keighley. That is a private railway, run by volunteers, which runs regular steam trains from Keighley to Oxenhope via the famous village of Haworth. Because of that we still sometimes see (and hear!) steam trains travelling through Saltaire - always a nostalgic moment. It also connects with the famous Settle-Carlisle rail line, which runs through some of the loveliest scenery in the Yorkshire Dales.

The original buildings and platforms were demolished, so the station now has wooden platforms and only a small open-fronted shelter on each side.
Sadly, it is no longer the picturesque place it once evidently was, although the backdrop of the Mill remains largely unchanged. It would be nice to think that one day they might decide to improve the station. It is well-used these days, by commuters and shoppers going to Leeds and Bradford.

I was once waiting for a train one misty winter evening, all alone on the station. Suddenly I heard the unmistakeable sound of a steam train - and, to my astonishment, an engine with several carriages came through the station. It only seemed to have one passenger on board - and on the front it said "Hogwart's Express" (as in the Harry Potter books). I have never been able to find an explanation for the experience. It was decidedly surreal. I half expected to look down and see myself in costume, having slipped through a time-warp!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Good Morning

Good morning Saltaire! This is the view that greets me every morning when I step out of my front door. And on several mornings lately the early morning light has been wonderful, with the low sun just catching the stonework of Salts Mill and really making it glow.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Window with lace

I think I could publish a whole book of photographs of windows and doors in Saltaire. I am fascinated by them. Perhaps it's because they make me wonder about what's inside and the lives of the people in the houses - not just the present inhabitants, but all those who have gone before. The houses are about 150 years old, so if they had stayed in the same family, that's five or six generations. Mine is the eighth family to live in my house.

As windows go, I think this one on Albert Road is one of the prettiest. I love this style of window with the rounded top. The ivy on the outside, the lace blind and the flowers make an attractive combination.

Sunday, 8 November 2009


We've had sunshine and showers for a few days now - and in those conditions I always look for rainbows. They still give me a thrill; the shimmering, ephemeral band of colour does seem sent to remind us to be hopeful and positive... after the storm comes the sun. I was glad I had my camera to hand to capture this perfect arc over Saltaire, just before it faded to nothing.

"You may grind their souls in the selfsame mill, You may bind them, heart and brow; But the poet will follow the rainbow still, And his brother will follow the plow."

John Boyle O'Reilly 'The Rainbow's Treasure'

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Electric Picture Shop

We haven't had a shop photo for a while on Saltaire Daily Photo, so here is one of my favourites. I don't know how long this shop has been on Saltaire Road, and I've never been in it. (I often wonder if the shopkeeper is preserved in cobwebs somewhere inside.) I can't imagine they do a very good trade these days - they don't look to be exactly ready for the digital switchover! It reminds me that there was once a time (and not so long ago really) when an 'electric picture' was something novel that we didn't just take for granted. (As a teenager, I used to go across the road to my neighbour's house to watch 'The Frost Report', which became a bit of a cult programme. We felt deprived, as we didn't have BBC2!)

It is this kind of quirky little shop that eventually gets lost and we lose much more than just a little corner shop. We are losing a whole tradition of local people serving the local community; people who would know your name and, in many cases, go the extra mile to assist and give a good service. I love it - I want it to be preserved as a museum.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Autumn Tree

This is the last photo in this little series on Shipley Glen - it's a recent one, taken up on the hill above Saltaire. This is the area where the Aerial Flight in yesterday's post was sited. It's not much different now from how it was in Victorian times, though all the rides and attractions have gone. The most exciting thing on offer nowadays is Yorkshire Dales ice-cream (which is very yummy). But it is still a lovely place for a stroll, or to sit on a rock or one of the wooden seats and watch what's going on. It's a popular spot with dog-walkers and kite-flyers.

The rocks are millstone grit,
a coarse gritty sandstone - and yes, they did use it to make millstones
, for grinding grain into flour. Sometimes you see novice climbers practising on the rock edge that falls away to the left of my picture. The rough texture of the rock gives quite a lot of grip, so I guess it's good for beginners.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Just at the top of the Shipley Glen Tramway, if you peer through the overgrown vegetation, you can see this relic of the time, not all that long ago, when this part of Shipley Glen was a Pleasure Ground. Enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people since Victorian times, there have been many weird and wonderful attractions in the area. All are now gone apart from the Tramway, which as I said a few days ago is currently closed for repairs. The dodgems are obviously not Victorian, but ran until a few years ago (2005, I think). They seem to have been 'mothballed' rather than demolished, but one doubts whether they will ever be revived....Pity, I do like a good bash round on the dodgems!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Shipley Glen tramway

Here's a nostalgia trip especially for Alan B.... Just on the edge of Saltaire, at the far side of Roberts Park, there is an area known as Shipley Glen - some ancient woodland on a steep hillside, then a broad ledge of rocks and scrubland, before the hillside swoops up again to Baildon Moor (see my post of October 7). I have featured one or two photos of this area (see also 26 & 27 September) but I must admit I have largely ignored its most famous feature - the Shipley Glen tramway. This is because at the moment it doesn't really exist. The sheds are still there at the top and bottom, but the tramway is under repair. The sign saying when it will reopen says a later date every time I pass it. (NB: It is open again regularly now, 2011-12 season).

The Tramway is the oldest working cable tramway in Britain (excepting cliff-lifts at the seaside) and dates from 1895. It was originally powered by gas but is now electric. It has been kept open by volunteers, but struggles financially in the present climate of credit crunch and 'elfnsafety' legislation. In its hey-day it was a very popular tourist attraction and still brings delight to children, especially at Christmas when they run 'Santa Specials'. Let's hope they get it working again in time for the run-up to Christmas this year.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Backs

Even the backyards of Saltaire's houses can provide an attractive photo, with the colour of the drainpipes and the flowers providing a nice contrast with the stonework. This is one of the streets in the oldest part of the village; cottages built for the ordinary millworkers of Salts Mill. You will notice the stone slabs covering what appear to be small storage sheds in each yard. When the houses were first built, these were an innovative feature that made the houses far, far superior to the slums of the city of Bradford... each house in Saltaire had its own private lavatory (the 'privy') in the backyard. Bathrooms have now been squeezed inside even the smallest cottages so, in most cases, the outside cubicles have been reduced in height and the plumbing removed. I keep the recycling bin in mine now, along with a few empty plant pots!