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Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Cage

I came home from work the other day to find that I had acquired a cage as a near neighbour. There has been a children's playground at the end of the street for many years. It wasn't much to look at - four tatty swings, a small roundabout, a slide and a few rocking things on springs. But it gave the kids a good place to charge around and let off steam, and the older lads played football there (using the swings as goalposts!) And from my point of view I like the open vista towards Salts Mill.

Bradford Council has apparently put £3 million from the sale of Leeds-Bradford Airport into a Community Investment Fund, and councillors are deciding how to spend this money to benefit local communities. Our local (Green Party) councillors have earmarked about £20,000.00 for a total renovation of the playground. I received a consultative leaflet through my letterbox some time ago. The plan is to provide some seating, landscaping and better play equipment, and to separate off an area for ball games, away from the play area for little children. If they can fit all that in, it should look rather more attractive, whilst still providing the kids with a much-needed play space.

So, although it looks awful right now (especially on a dull day against a grey sky) the mess and temporary disruption will, I hope, be worthwhile.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Sett pattern

There are just a few areas in Saltaire that have been left with the authentic stone cobbles (properly known as setts... I think because they are flat brick shapes rather than rounded stones). You can see them on my photo of Albert Terrace and in a small section at the bottom of Victoria Road. Salts Mill yard is also paved with setts. I had assumed these to be original and unchanged since Victorian times. But I have recently read a wonderful book called "Salt and Silver" by Jim Greenhalf, which is the story of Salts Mill and the two visionary men - Sir Titus Salt and Jonathan Silver - with whom its history is entwined. There is a photograph in the book, taken in 1988, of Jonathan Silver looking at the setts being relaid in front of the mill. So it seems that, after he bought the near-derelict Mill, he arranged for the tarmac to be ripped up and the setts restored. I like him even more now!

There is an amusing tale in the book that Jonathan, always an enthusiast and very 'hands on' throughout the restoration of the Mill, was one day attacking the tarmac with gusto with a pneumatic drill, to the evident surprise of the branch director of Barclays Bank (who loaned money to finance the project) who chose that moment to arrive with an entourage of officials!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Lone tree

More snow this week, though thankfully it didn't stay for long. We didn't really want it (or at least I didn't) but... Isn't nature beautiful? This tree is etched like black lace in the snow and mist, on High Bank Lane - up the valley side to the south of Saltaire. For such sights, I can almost forgive the treacherous slithering and sliding on the pavements on my way to work.


Many thanks to Diggestive for honouring me with this award - if anybody deserves it, it's Alan at newsfromnowhere and Betsy at myfivemen, as their scribbles invariably brighten my day. So I would like to pass it on to them both, with my thanks.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Brilliant banners

I've shown a series of pictures of St. Peter's Church, Shipley this week. It is one of two Church of England churches, each of which has half of Saltaire in its parish. A number of factors combine to make the interior of the church attractively warm and welcoming, including the large windows that lighten the space. I particularly love the colourful banners hanging from the walls - seven in all. Six were
made especially for the church some years ago: designed by Ann Davies and sewn by Ann, Helen Lealman, Betty Crooke and Sue Stevens. A seventh was added last year, in the Centenary year. They feature a mix of painting, textile collage and embroidery. They are all beautiful, but these two are my particular favourites.

You can see two more on H's lovely blog: Little Sealed Packages.
Given that I have two left hands when it comes to sewing and embroidery
(and am not much better at painting) then I am full of admiration for Ann and the others, who did a great job on these.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Stained glass

St Peter's Church, Shipley has several stained glass windows that I think are really beautiful. The 19th century in England saw a revival in the art of stained glass and by the time St Peter's Church was built there were many firms making richly coloured and highly decorative windows. Much of the fine detail - faces and pattern - is painted onto the glass. The window above is in the Hope Chapel (named after the first vicar of the church, Rev Frederick Beresford Hope) and depicts the Nativity scene, with the Wise men offering their gifts to the infant Jesus. There is also a large and splendid multi-panelled East Window showing Christ on the Cross, his Ascension to heaven and a centre panel of Christ the King (see yesterday's photo).

At the other end of the church are three smaller windows, one of which has two panels showing St Joseph and St Mary, Jesus' parents. Detail from the panels is shown below. St. Mary holds lilies, a symbol of purity and a flower often associated with the Virgin Mary and the Annunciation.

Don't they all have lovely faces? I haven't been able to find out who made the stained glass, but it seems that the windows were added to the church in stages, as people donated them in memory of loved ones. What a wonderful memorial to have.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Interior, St. Peter's Church

I took this photo of the interior of St. Peter's Church, Shipley in June last year, when we held a flower festival as part of our Centenary celebrations. The church was consecrated in 1909. The view is looking up the aisle from the West entrance towards the beautiful East window.

The church originally had wooden pews and an ornate wooden rood screen that separated the chancel (choir area) from the main body of the church (nave). The screen was removed in 1991 to open up the front of the church. The
church was fully carpeted and the pews were removed in 2005/6 to provide a more flexible area for worship and other activities such as charity concerts. (We now have nice comfy chairs...aah!)

The warm welcome now provided by the church interior is, we hope, mirrored by the warmth of the congregation. There are extensive church halls attached to the rear of the church, which provide a home for many community groups and activities.
We employ a full-time youth worker, paid for by the congregation, and offer both Sunday groups and a range of mid-week activities for children and young people.

Monday, 22 February 2010

St Peter's Church, Shipley

The area around Shipley expanded rapidly in the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution brought industry and textile mills into the area - the most notable, of course, being Salts Mill in Saltaire.

Towards end of the century, the Rev'd A W Cribb, vicar of
St Paul's Shipley, (see yesterday's post) realised that there was a need for a new church, to serve Saltaire and the new housing developments in the Moorhead and Nab Wood area. A congregation began to worship in the Technical School in Saltaire in 1890 and, as numbers grew, people began to make gifts towards the building of a new church, eventually raising £9624, 8 shillings and 1 penny!

Construction of the daughter church, St Peter's, started in 1907, about a mile away from St Paul's. St Peter's was consecrated by the Bishop of Ripon on 1 May 1909. Initially it did not have a tower - that was added in 1937, with a single bell. The tower cost £2500 and apparently a peal of bells would have cost another £700 so they couldn't afford that! (Which means these days we use a horrible recorded bell-ringing and then ring the single bell for five minutes before each service. That's the only thing I don't like about 'my' church...but I got pretty good at ringing the bell, when I was the churchwarden for a few years.)

The parish of St. Peter now includes the western half of Saltaire village, the Hirst Wood estate and much of Moorhead and Nab Wood.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

St Paul's Church, Shipley

Just up the valley side from Saltaire is the Anglican Parish Church of St Paul. The two churches in Saltaire itself are both non-conformist (Saltaire United Reformed Church and Saltaire Methodist Church). St Paul's Church, Shipley was built in 1826, predating Titus Salt's mill (1853) by more than 25 years. It was built to serve the township of Shipley and is sited just outside Shipley town centre. The eastern half of the village of Saltaire is within its parish. (For those not familiar with the system of the Church of England, England is divided up into small geographical areas known as parishes, so that every house in the country is within a local parish.)

The church is one of over 600 "Waterloo Churches" built in the early 19th century by a special government commission, with funds from the Church Buildings Act 1818. £1 million (£57.6 million in today's money) was invested in building churches, in thanks for victory in the Battle of Waterloo which ended the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. (Though some say it was mainly designed as a measure to curb the spread of radical and dissenting non-conformist churches. That obviously didn't really work round here!) Designed by J Oates of Halifax, the building is Grade II listed, and has been sensitively re-ordered inside to make it more conducive to modern Christian worship.

(Grr! Just upgraded my web browser and it's causing me all sorts of problems with the font on here. Sorry if it looks a bit different now.)

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Female face

Last year I posted a photograph of one of the carved stone faces that decorate the front of Saltaire's Victoria Hall. That was a god-like male figure; here is a female face. There are more than a dozen carvings above the windows along the front and sides - all different. I often wonder if they were modelled on real people and, if so, who this lady is.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Victoria Hall, framed

I need a weekend of decent weather so that I can replenish my stock of photos. I am now picking out some that I took last year - when the trees had leaves and the sun shone! This is another view of the Saltaire Club and Institute, now known as the Victoria Hall. It's one of the most important public buildings in Saltaire, built by Titus Salt to provide a social club and educational facility for his workers and tenants. Finished in June 1871, it was designed by Saltaire's architects Lockwood and Mawson in the same Italianate style as the rest of the major buildings. It was built by John Barry of Scarborough at a cost of £18,366. I think it's a most attractive and imposing building. It still provides a lively focal point for the village, hosting meetings, groups and regular events of all kinds.
(I hear that the BBC's Antiques Roadshow will be filmed here in April - so dig out those family treasures. You may be sitting on a fortune!).

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Blue door

The vibrant blue door of one of the houses on Amelia Street in Saltaire. Amelia Street is one of the older streets, lower down the village, built in 1854 (the year after Salts Mill opened). It's a row of workmen's cottages. Later the Bath and Wash House building (now demolished) was built opposite.

Amelia Street is named after
Sir Titus Salt's eldest daughter (1835-1914). She was her father's private secretary, until she married Mr Henry Wright in 1873. (Of course it was not considered appropriate for women to carry on working after they married, so most probably one of his other unmarried daughters, Helen or Ada, then took on the secretarial role.)

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Hockney by Silver

Glimpsed through a doorway in Salt's Diner, the restaurant at the heart of Salts Mill, this series of photographs of the artist David Hockney remind us of his connection to this area and to Salts Mill. I think they were most probably taken by his friend Jonathan Silver. Jonathan was the 'saviour' of Salts Mill, rescuing it from dereliction in the 1980s and setting it up once again as the vibrant heart of this small community of Saltaire, albeit in a very different form from its origins as a textile mill. I have written before of his friendship with David Hockney, which led to Salts Mill becoming the home to a large collection of David Hockney's art.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Henry Carr RA

One of the exhibitions currently in Saltaire's Salts Mill (Gallery 2) is a series of fourteen mural paintings made in the 1950s by the Leeds artist Henry Carr RA (1894 -1970). These were commissioned by the directors of Salts Mill to depict the individual stages of textile production, from sheep shearing through to the finished product. Henry Carr made a series of visits to the mill from 1957 to 1959, preparing drawings. The finished paintings were displayed in the mill when it was a working business. When the mill closed in the 1980s the paintings were consigned to a backroom and all but forgotten. They have recently been retrieved and expertly restored and, now on public display, they provide a colourful narrative of the mill's original purpose.

They are bright and graphic works, well worth seeing. One of them in particular has resonance for me. It shows women sitting at huge frames "burling and mending" the lengths of cloth - that is, visually inspecting and feeling the cloth for knots and imperfections, pulling them out and invisibly sewing the cloth so that it looked and felt perfect.

It reminds me of when I was first a student at Bradford University in the early 1970s. I rented a room high in the attic of a house in Bradford. From my window I could look down into a room in the building across the road where workers sat with huge rolls of cloth. Not being from this area, I was rather puzzled - until a fellow student, Bradford born and bred, explained that the workers were highly skilled burlers and menders in the textile industry, which in those days still survived as a major business in the area.

Monday, 15 February 2010

1 Albert Road

This is the largest house in Saltaire, situated at the upper end of the village at the junction of Albert Road with the main road to Leeds. It is in a very prominent position and would have been an elegant introduction to Titus Salt's village for travellers along the road. As you can see, it is no longer a private house but is now a branch of a bank. That's probably just as well, because these days the building overlooks a huge and extremely busy roundabout (just to the left but out of my picture).

The 1871 census records that it was then occupied - appropriately in view of its present use - by the family of Frederick Wood, aged 30, who was the chief cashier at Salts Mill. The annual rental was £18 (7 shillings a week). As I have said before, workers at the mill were housed according to their status, and clearly Mr Wood was one of the most important members of staff, carrying out a very responsible role and in a position of trust. So he got the grandest house. He was married to Ann and they had a baby son, also called Frederick, at that time just 8 months old. They also had a 23 year old domestic servant, Eliza Charles, living in the household. Considering how crowded some of the dwellings in Saltaire were, the Woods must have lived a very gracious life in their well-appointed house.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Massarella's is a well-established café bar and art gallery right in the centre of Saltaire, just opposite the Victoria Hall. It looks a cosy haven, all lit up on a winter's evening, but whatever the time of day it's a lovely place for a coffee and a light snack, with the added bonus that you can browse the artwork on display - and buy something if it takes your fancy. It is run by Ellen Massarella, who started it purely as an art gallery in 1998 and has since built it up into a thriving business, adding the catering side in 2004. Ellen stocks work - paintings, photographs, ceramics and cards - mostly by local artists. I think she lives 'above the shop' too, which I think is really great. I like it that the businesses in Saltaire are mostly run by people who share in and care about the village, and not by people who solely see the place as a money-spinner.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Sepia Skyline

The different heights of the roofs and the ornate chimney stacks of many of the properties in Saltaire make an interesting skyline. This shows the roofline of the shops on Victoria Road, more or less opposite Salts Mill itself. The shop with the rounded corner is ArtParade - see my post of 16 September for a full view of the frontage.

I pay homage to Sepia Saturday - but this doesn't count, as it's not an old photograph. I thought it deserved a sepia tone, nevertheless - and I don't think the view has changed much in 150 years!

PS Alan reckons it counts, so I'm in. Do pop over to the Sepia Saturday blog and have a look at the others.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Cheerful or toxic?

February can be such a gloomy month. I went out looking in vain for signs of spring and only found a few weak little snowdrops in a Saltaire garden - so puny they weren't even worth a photo! I snapped this glorious burst of ragwort late last summer, on my walk to work. It's a reminder that nature pulses through, even in the most inhospitable surroundings. Such a cheerful little plant. Not being a great botanist, I'm not sure which type of ragwort this is. One type, Oxford Ragwort - senecio squalidus - is native to Sicily but the wind-blown seeds reputedly escaped from specimen plants growing in Oxford Botanic Gardens and spread all over Britain, along the railway network. The native type, Common Ragwort - senecio jacobaea - is toxic to livestock, causing liver damage and it is considered a pernicious weed. Which is a pity, when it's so innocently pretty.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Number 6

Ooh, I'm having such fun on my photography course at Shipley College. Last term for me was more about revisiting and learning how to do things the proper way(!). This term, we are moving rapidly on to techniques I've never really understood how to do, like using layers and layer masks in Photoshop. This week, amongst other things, we learned how to do 'spot colour' or 'colour popping' as I have seen it termed in photo mags. It's not difficult really - and, as always, there seem to be several ways of achieving much the same effect - but it's quite fun and on the right photo it can have a lot of impact. For example, I noticed in a restaurant I was in recently the menu had a montage of photos of fruit, veg and the farmers that grow them. Several of the photos were black and white with the fruit or veg in colour - and it really looked very effective.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my first attempt at colour popping! 6 Caroline Street, Saltaire, with its nice red front door. A round of applause, please! (I know - you've all been able to do that since you were knee-high to a grasshopper... never mind. I'm enjoying myself.)

I've looked up the 1871 census for 6 Caroline Street. It is one of the three-storey houses built as boarding houses. In 1871 it housed two families: Joshua Wilson (66) a cotton twister, his daughter Ann (31), a cotton weaver, and son John (28) a worsted weaver. Also, listed as 'boarders', were the young family of John Lund (29) a stone mason, with his wife Maria (24), a cotton weaver and their baby son Albert Edward, born in Saltaire 10 months before the census. (Although Salts was a worsted mill, it used cotton fibres as the warp thread through which the wool weft was woven to produce very fine cloth. I don't know if that explains the women's job titles. )

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Winter morning sun on Salts Mill

Am idly wondering what it would be like to live in a part of the world where every day it's the same weather and temperature. I wonder if I'd like it less or more than waking up everyday guessing if it's going to be wet or dry, mild or chilly?

Yesterday was a chilly but bright one, making a change from the grey, damp mist. At this time of year, when the sun is rising, it strikes Salts Mill and makes the stone look almost rose-coloured. This is the view from the railway bridge on my walk to work - I count myself fortunate!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Bradford & Bingley Rugby Club

Watching some of the Six Nations rugby tournament on TV at the weekend reminded me that I had this wintry photo of the Bradford & Bingley rugby club's ground on Wagon Lane in Bingley. The club has a claim to fame as one of the first sides to play against the newly conceived Barbarians side in 1890. (The match was drawn.)

For those who are not rugby fans, The Barbarians are an invitation-only touring side, drawn from some of the best international rugby players.
They owe their existence to the vision and enthusiasm of one man, William Percy Carpmael. He conceived his grand idea late one evening in 1890 in Leuchters Restaurant, Bradford.
Carpmael's vision was that the Barbarian Club should be absolutely cosmopolitan, bringing together players from different clubs to play a few matches each year of 'adventurous, attacking rugby', and with the aim of spreading good-fellowship amongst all rugby football players. This continues to this day. Even though club and international schedules these days demand huge commitment from players, nevertheless playing for the Baa-Baas is considered a great honour. According to their website, the qualifications considered when issuing an invitation are: that the player's football is of a good enough standard and secondly that he should behave himself on and off the field. There is no discrimination whatsoever by race, colour or creed.

Of course, this area of Yorkshire is perhaps better known for Rugby League than Rugby Union - with the Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos both attracting huge support locally. But I confess I'm a Union fan myself.

Monday, 8 February 2010

One misty, moisty morning...

Another weekend of wintry weather - this time of the chilly, damp, foggy kind. The fog does produce some interesting effects, emphasising shapes and somehow having the effect of flattening perspective so that everything looks like a stage set. It gives Saltaire United Reformed Church the look of a Greek temple, with those huge Corinthian pillars looming up through the mist. Wouldn't it be a wonderful setting for an opera? (Wrap up warm though!!)

From opera to folk...The title "One misty, moisty morning.." suddenly came into my head - it was an old Steeleye Span hit in the early 1970s. So I just downloaded it from iTunes - ah, nostalgia!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Here's looking at ewe, kid!

One last photo of the centre of Shipley, my local market town. This shows a relatively recent addition - the sculpture called "The Shipley Shopper". Designed by artist Morwena Catt, it depicts a sheep taking a rest from shopping, on a decorative bench under a parasol. It was unveiled on March 1, 2008 after 'extensive public consultation' and cost £12,000. It is apparently intended to provide a bit of light relief, and to form a focal point in an area where plants get ruined by pigeons. (Maybe I'm reaching the 'grumpy old woman' stage of life but if I'm honest I think they could have spent £12,000 more wisely!)

The image of the sheep was chosen because the name Shipley means 'sheep meadow'. The town's earliest origins were as an agricultural community, and it stayed that way until the early 1800s. After the Leeds-Liverpool canal was built in the 1770s, coal mining and stone quarrying developed in the area and later a number of woollen & worsted textile manufacturing mills were built locally.
Growth was assisted by the building of new turnpike roads and by the coming of the railway. In 1853 the most famous of the mills, Salts Mill, was opened and the development of Saltaire - a mile or so up the road from Shipley town centre - began.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Bygone days

This old photograph (given to me by Dorothy Burrows) shows Shipley Market Place as it was in the past. I don't have a date for the photo but I imagine it was taken in the early 19th century. I have not lived in the area long enough to remember these buildings. I think that the picture may be taken from what is now the junction of Kirkgate and Otley road. If I'm correct, the building on the right still stands (and is The Sun pub), and some of the buildings on the far right also remain. But the nice old shop in the middle is gone, replaced by the 1960s concrete buildings that house the indoor market and support the clock tower. The current market square (yesterday's blogpost) is up to the left.

One of the best things about doing this blog is how much I'm finding out about my local area that I didn't know. The internet is such a wonderful source of information and I like the way individuals can link their explorations. If you have time, do have a look at this blog. It has a history of Shipley and some more old photos of the area.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Market place, Shipley

This is the market square in Shipley, on one of the market days...though the curse of the white van is obscuring all the stalls. The local Council do their best to brighten the place up in summer with hanging baskets and banners, but I can't find any love in my heart for the modernist 1960s concrete buildings. The clock on the tower was stopped for years (it even features on a blog about stopped clocks!) and there was some debate about whether the tower should be demolished or kept. I read that the tower was unsafe for engineers to climb to repair the clock. However, that must have been sorted out because last July the clock was mended and now keeps time and chimes again. If you look closely you can see the figure of man hitting a bell. It is even lit by a coloured light show at night, which enlivens my winter walk home from work!

Thursday, 4 February 2010


Taking my customary walk to the local Asda supermarket in Shipley town centre after work last Friday, I was amused by the 'Buy One, Get One Free' offer in the shoeshop!

The shops in Saltaire itself are all small independents. They are great shops but they don't exactly provide everything needed to sustain life, being aimed
more at visitors than at locals seeking everyday staples. Fortunately the small town-centre of Shipley is less than a mile down the road. It has markets, a large Asda, a small Boots chemist and various other outlets of the lower-end chain and charity shop kind. (There used to be a Woolworths too, until its demise heralded the recession).

It's not a particularly lovely place... it's one of those town centres that suffered in the 1960s and 70s from the urge to root out the old Victorian buildings and replace them with modern concrete. It all now looks tired and a bit tatty, despite some recent efforts to spruce it up a bit.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


Another of the new blue street signs, this time attached to the railings alongside the railway line. Presumably because of the need to protect the line, these railings have survived the fate that befell so many others during the Second World War. Thousands of pieces of decorative ironwork, railings and other metal items from across Britain were taken to be melted down and made into munitions. It now seems doubtful that much of this scrap was ever used. It seems to have been largely a propaganda exercise to make people feel they were contributing to the 'war effort', and it is now said that much of the metal was secretly dumped.

I wonder how many people, noticing the mysterious rows of little metal knobs on so many of the walls in our cities and towns, realise that they are the remnants of Victorian railings?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Blue street signs

There is an ongoing project in Saltaire to replace the standard black and white street signs throughout the village with distinctive Prussian blue and white ones. These are similar in style to the originals installed by Sir Titus Salt. (The new ones appear to be plastic whereas the originals were metal. Presumably they rusted eventually, so there are none left.) The idea for the project came from the late Clive Woods, a founder member of Saltaire Village Society, and is endorsed by the World Heritage Site Management Plan. The signs are funded by individual donations of £98.00 each. The purchaser receives a miniature replica of 'their' sign. There are still a handful of signs 'up for grabs' and the Village Society hopes the project will be completed by the end of 2010. (To sponsor a sign contact Molly Kenyon mkenyon@freeuk.com)

Monday, 1 February 2010

Lead Theft

Some while ago (25 October), I showed a picture of the Salt Family Mausoleum attached to the United Reformed Church in Saltaire, where Sir Titus Salt and several members of his family are laid to rest. My original picture showed the attractive roof of the Mausoleum. I am sad to report that thieves have stripped the lead from it for the third time and the roof has now been covered in sheeting in a bid to prevent water entering the vault. The theft apparently happened last autumn but I confess that I had not heard about it until recently. Lead theft is a particular problem for churches - my own church suffered too, and water damaged the interior. Trying to insure the buildings becomes prohibitively expensive and this must be especially unwelcome for the church in Saltaire. It faces an ongoing battle to preserve and restore the fabric, despite receiving some grants from bodies such as English Heritage. I'm amazed that such a theft could be carried out in an area such as Saltaire without anyone noticing the thieves (and presumably their vehicle?). And I wonder too how anyone could be so minded to damage such a beautiful, historic building, which is loved by so many.