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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Half Moon Café

The Half Moon Café in Roberts Park, Saltaire is a welcome stopping-off place for a drink or a bite to eat, and has been doing a good trade in the pleasant weather we've had this summer. The building is an original Victorian pavilion, and has a statue of Sir Titus Salt on the upper level opposite the new bandstand. The café was run by Saltaire Cricket Club and for a long time was just open at weekends and for providing that long-standing English tradition of 'cricket teas' for the teams. (I have fond memories from my Nottinghamshire childhood of my mother and aunts in my grandma's kitchen, making vast amounts of sandwiches to take up to the cricket club where my uncles played in the local village team.) Since the renovation of Roberts Park, the café now opens every day, thanks to a number of hard-working volunteers.

If you're interested, there is a new video on YouTube all about Saltaire and specifically about the renovation of Roberts Park. It's very interesting - lasts about 10 minutes and has some fascinating old photos as well as contemporary footage. I don't know the person who made it, but it's worth a look.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Mirror, mirror

All through June and early July, we had some fabulous weather - a quintessential English summer. Temperatures in Saltaire have been pleasant, around 20-25℃; there was very little rain, light breezes. It has cooled off a bit now and become a lot more unsettled, with some heavier rainstorms. Obviously gearing itself up for the start of the school holidays this week! (That's the pleasure of being British - you can always be gloomy about the weather prospects.)

Such lovely evenings have enticed me into taking frequent evening strolls around my patch. The canal walk is always my favourite. I never cease to be thrilled by the amazing reflections when the sky is blue and the trees are green.

And this gives me the perfect opportunity to join in the Weekend Reflections, hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo. For more lovely reflections, from all over the world, click this link.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Red phone box

Kettlewell still has one of the iconic old-fashioned red phone boxes (hooray!). So many of these have disappeared from our streets, replaced by modern glass designs. But I imagine there would be an outcry if BT were to try to change this one. The National Parks Authority has very strict rules about planning and what can be changed. Ironically, when the boxes were first introduced, a lot of rural areas were upset by the bright colour. Nowadays people fight to keep these old red boxes.

The red box (K2) was originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1924. He was a famous architect who designed many notable buildings including Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. He was the grandson of Sir George Gilbert Scott who designed the Albert Memorial (see my post of June 3) and St. Pancras Station in London. The red box design was continued with minor alterations - this one is a K6, originally introduced in 1935.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Stained glass light

This is one of the windows in the chancel (choir area) of St Mary's Church, Kettlewell. Though it was quite a dull day, just for a moment sunshine streamed through, creating soft colours on the stone.
Several of the stained glass windows in the church are memorials to servicemen - to John and Michael Holdsworth (of Scargill House) who were both killed in WW2 (though Michael's twin William survived the war) and to Charles Godfrey Cutliffe Hyne, who was killed aged 18 in WW1 1916. I didn't get a good photo of that window (didn't have my tripod) but it is a very poignant picture. It shows Christ - with a very boyish face, glowing with light - standing by a pile of soldier's clothes representing the boy who died. There are two uniformed soliders, one on each side, each with the face of one of his real-life friends. It really reminded me that so many of those killed in war (even today) are such young men.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

St Mary's Church, Kettlewell

There has been a church in Kettlewell since Norman times (1120). The present building is Victorian, consecrated in 1885. It replaced the previous Georgian building that was found to be unsafe and was demolished, though the Georgian tower still stands. It is a modestly sized church set in attractive grounds - some of the churchyard is tended, with mown grass and garden flowers but some has been allowed to grow wild. At the churchyard entrance there is a lychgate - a wooden arched gateway - erected in 1921 by the Holdsworths (who at that time owned Scargill House) in thanksgiving for their marriage. (If you want to know more about lychgates, look at H's blog, Little Sealed Packages).

Monday, 26 July 2010

Kettlewell Village Store

One of those shops that sells pretty much everything you might need! - general grocery items, newspapers, lottery tickets, beer and wine, fruit and veg, bread and cakes, meat, frozen foods, chilled goods, sweets and chocolate, cigarettes, and local produce including ice cream and Wensleydale dairy cheeses. Oh yes, fishing nets too! It has modern fittings inside (fridges etc) of course, but looks little changed on the outside. It's a long way to the nearest supermarket, so the villagers and visitors will be glad of it.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Kettlewell cottage

The village of Kettlewell is a typical Dales village, with a cluster of stone cottages and a village church. It sits on a bend in the River Wharfe. A small stream - Kettlewell Beck - flows right through the centre (see map), bridged at both the top and bottom end of the village. The village has three pubs, a village shop, a garage (rare in these parts!), a Youth Hostel, some tourist shops, cafés and bed & breakfast accommodation. It also famously holds a 'Scarecrow' Festival every August when hundreds of decorative scarecrows appear throughout the village.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Field Barn, Upper Wharfedale

Another characteristic feature of the Yorkshire Dales is the old stone barns dotted across the landscape. Some are still in good repair but many are crumbling and no longer used. There are reputed to be about 4500 field barns (in some dales there is one in nearly every field!) most dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. There are books devoted to them, and some have in recent times been converted into very desirable homes, but the vast majority just sit there, providing good subject matter for photographers and a bit of shelter from the wind for hikers eating their sandwiches!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Drystone walls

One of the most obvious features of the Yorkshire Dales landscape is the numerous limestone drystone walls that snake across the land. These are often very old, built of stones without any mortar. They can look as though they are just a pile of stones thrown together, but in fact there is a lot of skill involved in building drystone walls. Some of them have holes for livestock to move through - small bolt holes for rabbits, larger 'cripple holes' for sheep. These walls criss-cross the valley floor in Upper Wharfedale and some extend right up the valley sides. Around Kettlewell, there is evidence of an Iron Age (approx 499 BC - 71 AD) co-axial field system - long field boundaries that run from the valley bottom right up to the high limestone plateau.... though most of these walls are more like 150 - 200 years old.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A walk in the rain

I headed up into the Yorkshire Dales last weekend to help celebrate a friend's birthday, with a weekend house-party at Scargill House in Upper Wharfedale, not far from the village of Kettlewell. It's about 25 miles (40 km) NNW of Saltaire. (For more information about the house and the Scargill Movement please click the links.)

After all the brilliant weather we have been having, sadly it reverted to type, with fine drizzle for much of the time. But that didn't stop me walking and taking photos. Upper Wharfedale is a classic U-shaped valley, scoured out by glaciers in the Ice Age. It has been farmed since at least the Bronze Age, and farming and tourism continue to be the main activities in the area. The scenery is dominated by outcrops of Great Scar Limestone (notably at Kilnsey Crag) and the area is popular with walkers, climbers and pot-holers. This whole area is part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

A 'dale' is a river valley.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park covers the scenic, rural upper reaches of these rivers: the Ribble; the Aire (Saltaire is in Airedale. The upper reaches of Airedale around Malham are known as Malhamdale); the Wharfe (Ilkley, the town I featured earlier this month, is in Lower Wharfedale and Kettlewell is in Upper Wharfedale); the Nidd; the Ure - whose valley used to be called Yoredale but is now known as Wensleydale, after one of its villages; and the Swale. There are also numerous smaller dales, all of which are very attractive and interesting. The geography and geology of the Yorkshire Dales are a bit complicated to describe at length here, but there is plenty of info and maps on the internet.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Saltaire's New Mill

The New Mill, Saltaire.... looking quite old in this photo. It's rare that you get such a perfect reflection in the River Aire at the top of the weir, so I wanted to take the picture. But it was a really dull day yesterday (I'm on holiday so it's raining, natch!) so a sepia treatment seemed like a good option.

This Mill was an addition to the main Salts Mill, completed some 15 years later in 1868 (which was, incidentally, the same year that the last houses in Saltaire were finished). Sir Titus Salt had it built as an extra spinning mill, to make use of excess steam power and to produce even more yarn for his busy weaving department in the main mill. It was built on the site of the original Dixon's corn mill, which existed when Sir Titus bought the land in order to relocate his textile business out of Bradford to a healthier, cleaner site. A mill weir was already there, but it was replaced in 1871 by the one you now see.

I had another photo of the Mill from this side in my blog on
29 June last year and you can click the 'New Mill' label below for more photos of this building from different aspects. It is notable for its splendid tower, a copy of a Venetian campanile. The New Mill is now converted to offices, occupied by the Bradford District NHS Care Trust.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Walled gardens

The walled gardens at East Riddlesden Hall are a most attractive feature, designed by Graham Stuart Thomas for the National Trust. There are borders of herbs that would have been routinely used in the past in cooking, as healing remedies and to scent rooms and clothing. There are formal flowerbeds, lawns, fruit trees and a 'wild' garden too. And of course the large fishpond at the entrance (see my photo two days ago) that may have been made originally by monks from Bolton Abbey. A slightly later addition to the house - the Starkie Wing - was demolished in 1905, with one wall left standing (to the left of my picture) that has been attractively incorporated into the garden.

For a photo of this wing from the other side, please see my blog for September 30 2009.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Hall, East Riddlesden

East Riddlesden Hall is a manor house, built in the 1640s, by James Murgatroyd, a wealthy yeoman clothier from Halifax. It was built on the site of an older hall but little of that remains. James Murgatroyd and his family were staunch Royalists, during the English Civil War (1642-1651) when it was unwise to advertise that allegiance. That did not stop him having the heads of King Charles I and his Queen carved in stone in the Hall, with the legend 'Vive le Roy' (Long live the King.) Many Royalists were forced to forfeit their land. That didn't happen to the Murgatroyds but their property in Halifax was attacked and captured by the Parliamentarians. The family must have escaped or been released and by 1648 East Riddlesden Hall was completed. The surrounding land was farmed and for many years the house was let to tenant farmers, which meant it has stayed substantially unchanged.

With its oak panelled rooms and mullioned windows, the house has quite a cosy, 'lived-in' feel inside (though reputed to have ghosts!) and is now furnished with Yorkshire oak furniture of the 17th & 18th centuries. The Yorkshire rose window that you can see is typical of grand houses in this area, the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Green oasis

I am trying to raise some motivation to do some decorating at home, and as part of 'thinking myself into the mood' I set off last Saturday on a mission to gather some paint sample cards. It so happens that the nearest 'Sainsbury's Homebase' DIY store is not all that far from East Riddlesden Hall, our local National Trust property. So it occurred to me that it would be pleasant to pop in there as part of the trip.

I had rather underestimated the walking distance between the two places (1.5 km) and, as it was an extremely hot and humid day, it was with some relief that I turned into the gates. You are greeted by this wonderful green panorama, so refreshing on a hot day. (In fact, as I arrived, there was a wedding group having photos taken in just this spot. One of the great oak barns is hired out for weddings.
But I was too hot to bother snapping them - and anyway I'm not as bold as some of you bloggers when it comes to photographing strangers.)

First stop for me was the delightful café for a long, cool drink and a piece of the delicious "Riddlesden Slice" - a moist cake made from rice flour, carrots, nuts and all manner of other lovely healthy things.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Coming up roses

This is a variation on one of the most iconic images of Saltaire - the vast south face of Salts Mill, with its 150ft high chimney and decorative twin lantern towers. The railway line runs alongside. (You can just make out one of the overhead gantrys for the power cables). The newly-built Victorian railway was of course one of the reasons Titus Salt built the Mill in this position. He purchased the land in 1850. By 1853 the huge mill was up and running, bringing together on one site all the processes involved in turning raw wool into fine worsted cloth. (To find out what they are, please look at my posts for March 7th -16th 2010).

By the side of the railway line, there are areas of allotment gardens. B
ecause Saltaire's village houses only have tiny gardens, quite a lot of space in the village was eventually given over to allotments in order that residents could grow their own veg and fruit - an activity once again becoming very trendy! At this time of year the shrubs and rose bushes provide a pretty frame for the Mill. I have noticed that the roses habitually have their 'faces' turned towards the Mill, as if themselves enjoying the view.

By the way, I have heard that, owing to staffing constraints at Shipley College, the Saltaire Archive will NOT now be open to the public in August this year. (Boo!)

Friday, 16 July 2010

In the pink

It's the height of the season for roses and even in the smallest Saltaire garden there is room for this exuberance of pink.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Canal not wet enough

Local newspapers yesterday carried this slightly alarming headline. It seems strange... Reading blogs from various parts of the world, it seems that a lot of people are having the opposite problem, experiencing more rain than usual. But we in England have had an unusually dry start to the year. All that snow last winter didn't add up to much in terms of rainfall and the spring and summer have been markedly dry. The drought is especially affecting the north and west of the country, precisely where the reservoirs that top up the Leed-Liverpool Canal are situated. It's usually the wettest part of the country, but already the area has a hosepipe ban - and now this! The report says that a long stretch of the canal from Wigan in Lancashire to Gargrave (just beyond Skipton) could be closed by the beginning of August, unless there is significant rainfall between now and then.

They say that 'every cloud has a silver lining' (perhaps not a very apt saying in this case!). It could mean more holiday boating traffic comes this way
along the canal, to explore the Gargrave to Leeds stretch that includes Saltaire, instead of the more rural mid-Pennine areas. I'm sure they won't be disappointed - it may be a bit more urban but it's a very fascinating journey through history.

PS: As I write this, it's raining heavily - so it could all turn out to be 'a storm in a teacup'. ;-)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Saltaire garden

This garden in Saltaire's Alexandra Square makes a beautiful 'chocolate box' picture at the moment, with borders and pots full of colourful plants. Whoever lives there must love gardening and obviously takes great pride in how it looks. The other side of the house, overlooking Bradford Road, is equally pretty. It is one of Saltaire's Almshouses, originally built by Titus Salt in 1868 to provide homes for elderly and infirm residents of Saltaire. It's good to see one of the houses looking so attractive, as some of them look a little bit neglected these days. For more photos and information about the Almshouses see here and here.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Riverside Repairs

Someone has been doing a little repair work to the windows at the Riverside Court Apartments. He was up in a cherry-picker for a few days, working along the building. It looked like he was redoing the seals between the windows and the stonework, as he had a trowel in his hand. Hot work - the sun was blazing down.
This building is on the opposite side of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal from the main Salts Mill. (See this photo for the whole facade of the apartments). It was an addition to Titus Salt's New Mill, which is at the far end of the block, with the ornate chimney. At one time there was a gas works and gasometers here. The land was redeveloped during 1907-09 (during the time the Mill was owned by Sir James Roberts). These later buildings are sympathetic to the style of Salts and the New Mill but are actually an early example of reinforced concrete construction, with stone facings. They were originally connected to Salts Mill by three covered walkways across the canal; only one of these now remains. The buildings were redeveloped again in the 1990s into 97 luxury apartments, retaining the external features. They are very pleasantly situated between the canal and River Aire, and close to the rail station - ideal for those commuting to Leeds or Bradford.

Monday, 12 July 2010


There have been some lovely summer evenings in Saltaire of late, and some beautiful skies - though usually, by the time I notice, the sunset has all but gone. The terrace of houses behind mine obscures the western sky and I can only see a small patch from my study window (which is usually where I am in the evenings.) So I look up, see a pretty pink or orange sky, grab my camera and dash out and by the time I've legged it down into the village, the best of the show is over! That's happened a few times.... though I did like this rich amber glow I managed to catch behind the tower of Saltaire's lovely church.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Meanwhile, in Saltaire...

You seemed to enjoy visiting Ilkley - but meanwhile, what's been happening in Saltaire whilst we've been away? Well, proud Mama Mallard has hatched a SECOND brood of ducklings. The first lot are well grown up now - must be, because you can't tell which ducks they are. (They can't all have been eaten, can they? I watched them thrive until they got quite big.) One of my favourite things is to watch ducklings scurrying about. They move so fast, on land or in the water, and look so purposeful - but they aren't! Quite comic. It's also hilarious watching them trying to jump up onto the canal bank. Like most baby things, they're sweet.

Saturday, 10 July 2010


No trip to Ilkley Moor is complete without a photo of one of the most prolific moorland plants - Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum). It is at its most attractive at this time of year, when the new fronds are just unfurling like a baby's fist. (Apparently in some parts of the world the young shoots - appropriately named 'fiddleheads' - are eaten as a vegetable, even though the plant is carcinogenic!) I can remember studying the life cycle of ferns at school - and very wonderful and complex it is too.
As to my photo, I was quite pleased with this one. I use a br
idge camera rather than a DSLR, and it's hard to get a nice blurry background. You need low light and to trick it into thinking you're taking a portrait! So here is my portrait of a bracken frond!

Friday, 9 July 2010

On Ilkla Moor Baht'at

And here is what some of you have been waiting for.....
From the terrace of the small building that holds the White Wells Spa, you can sit beside the flag showing the white rose emblem of Yorkshire, and survey the view over Ilkley (with a cup of Yorkshire Tea, of course!).

Be careful if, like these people, you're not wearing a hat.... You could come to a dreadful end.
"On Ilkla Moor Baht'at" is a famous comic song, sung in Yorkshire dialect, warning a lover, courting Mary Jane on Ilkley Moor, that he will die of exposure if he doesn't wear a hat. It then goes on to teach a very sound lesson about recycling! Click this link to see a fine You-Tube rendition or this link to read the words in Yorkshire - and in English!

(Photo best viewed large)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

White Wells Spa

White Wells is situated half way up Ilkley Moor, above the little town of Ilkley. The story goes that in the 1700s a local shepherd badly hurt his leg, which refused to heal. He found that it began to do so after he bathed it daily in Ilkley's spring waters. Word spread, and soon other visitors came to bathe in the (cold) healing waters. Between 1840 and 1870, hydrotherapy clinics were built in the area and, taking advantage of the new railway, wealthy Victorians flocked to the town to 'take the waters', cementing Ilkley's reputation as a place of genteel elegance. Charles Darwin was famously a visitor, at the time that his book "Origin of the Species" was being published.

White Wells was originally a two roomed cottage but was developed as a small spa. You can still see the spa bath - which nowadays seems to be used as a wishing well! It is owned by the Council, let to tenants and run as a tea room but these days it seems a bit neglected. It is a shame, as it's a lovely walk up to the viewpoint and a very pleasant place to sit with a drink. You would think that with an injection of cash to spruce it up and some entrepreneurial flair, it could be quite an attraction.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Wisteria & honeysuckle

Floral delights in Ilkley are not confined to the public displays in the town centre. On the road up to the moor, there are some beautiful old houses (my dream homes). I spotted this lovely arch of wisteria and honeysuckle over a door.

These are spacious, double-fronted houses dating back to the early 1800s.

This one is currently for sale - a six bedroomed, stone-built terraced house... a snip at £675,000 (€814,000)! If you can't afford that but want the experience, The Rombalds Hotel is in the same terrace, so you could perhaps have a weekend break there instead.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Floral display

Ilkley is renowned for having wonderful floral displays. It has several times won the annual Britain in Bloom competition, in the category 'Town'. The last time was in 2004, I think. Even the local 'Pizza Express' has lovely hanging baskets and these make a welcoming sight when you arrive in the town by train, as the restaurant is adjacent to the rail station. You can sit outside on this covered terrace to eat your pizza (though I'm not sure I like the plastic roof!)

[As others are reporting too, I have comments but the number is not showing. You can still read them if you click on the comments tag, I think. And thanks to all who are commenting :-) I love reading them.]

Monday, 5 July 2010

Victorian Arcade

Wandering round the shopping centre in Ilkley is a delight. There are some lovely small shops and exclusive boutiques. You can also visit one of the original Victorian arcades - a forerunner, I suppose, of our modern day shopping malls. It has been attractively restored, with hanging baskets and a fountain.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Listen to the band

On a sunny summer's day, what could be nicer than to sit by the bandstand in Ilkey's little park and listen to the music? You can choose a bench in the sun or one in the shade... but be prepared to make room for someone else too! (I know what's even nicer - listening to the music whilst eating a 'Yorkshire Dales' ice-cream. I know because I tried it!)

(I hope the band will play something suitable to wish all my American friends a very happy 4th July.)

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Bettys Café Tea Rooms

Ilkley is one of four towns in Yorkshire that has a 'Bettys Café Tea Rooms'. (The others are in York, Harrogate and Northallerton.) Bettys is a family business dating back to 1919, when a young Swiss confectioner called Frederick Belmont came to England, intending to open a café on the south coast. The story goes that he took the wrong train and ended up in Yorkshire but, liking it, he decided to stay. There is a mystery over who Betty was, with several possible explanations.

Bettys prides itself on its traditional menu and attention to detail. The waitresses all wear uniform with white lace-trimmed aprons. It is THE best place for Afternoon Tea, with a selection of small sandwiches and cakes served on pretty china, and a wide range of unusual and specialist teas to choose from. It's also a good place for a leisurely Sunday brunch with the newspapers. (It is rather an expensive treat but one that I sometimes consider myself worthy of!) You can also buy their delicious breads and cakes to take home with you. The Tea Rooms in Ilkley has a very attractive dining room, with the largest marquetry picture ever made - a medieval hunting scene called La Chasse, made in Alsace entirely of unstained wood veneers.

In my photo, reflected in the shop window, you can see the Ilkley bandstand in the park opposite. For other participants in 'Weekend Reflections', hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo, click this link.

Friday, 2 July 2010


There are some lovely - and interesting - places within easy reach of Saltaire, so this year I am going to 'travel around' a little more, to share some of these locations in words and pictures. I begin with Ilkley, considered by many to be the 'jewel in the crown' of this area.

Ilkley is a small spa town, in the valley of the River Wharfe, about nine or so miles
over the moors from Saltaire. There was a settlement (Olicana fort) here in Roman times. It became a fashionable spa town in the 19th century and has attracted a high proportion of older and affluent inhabitants. The 2001 census recorded 20% of the population as being retired.

In consequence there are some beautiful houses in the area. The shopping centre has some lovely Victorian buildings and a high number of small 'independent' shops. There is also a Michelin-starred restaurant, The Box Tree, where Marco Pierre White trained.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

New playground

Some of you may remember back to early March, when I said they were digging up the children's playground near my house in order to revamp it. It has taken all this time for the new design to come to fruition but it opened the other day - without, as far as I know, any fanfare - and since then has been very busy and popular, particularly with parents/carers with younger children. Unusually, it has been turfed and then some kind of rubber matting laid over the turf around the swings and slides, through which the grass can grow. There are a few new trees, some colourful seats (seating was almost non-existent before), lots of bright exciting equipment... the most popular appears to be a circular net that swings....and a tarmac area for ball games - just out of my picture.

Overall it is an improvement, much more cheerful looking and it certainly seems well-used. But there are large signs forbidding entry to anyone over 14 who is not supervising a younger child. That means the youths who used to play football on the old playground are no longer allowed to, and all those young students from the local college who used to come and cuddle on the one seat (!) have been left out. (And I can't go and sit there either!) Not sure what the ban is meant to achieve - any paedophile need only stand on the other side of the perimeter fence! And the older ones used to play at different times from the little ones. I don't suppose a few signs will stop the teenagers though!

(Oh and by the way, I did buy the print of the old playground, mentioned in my earlier post.)