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Thursday, 30 September 2010

The oldest building...

I am taking you on another trip beyond Saltaire... some 20 miles (32kms) SE as the crow flies, a bit further by road - to a little village called Ledsham. Saltaire, built in the 1850s, is historic - but in Ledsham stands the oldest church (and the oldest building) in our county of West Yorkshire. What is now All Saints Church was first built over 1200 years ago, in the early 8th century (900 AD).

The bottom part of the church tower, shown above, is part of an Anglo-Saxon porch. The doorway, the little window and surrounding wall are thought to be part of a large stone building that was an important centre of Christianity, perhaps a monastery. The church has been altered many times since but parts of the earliest building are still clearly visible. You can see from the picture below that the porch was built upwards
in Norman times (12th century). There is an area (around where the clock now is) of random stonework and then a Norman belfry with the distinctive rounded arch.

The carving around the door was done in Victorian times but may be a copy of what was there originally and the spire was added later too. The groundplan of the church was extended several times, with many of the tiny Anglo-Saxon windows replaced by larger ones in the 13th century and still larger ones (like the gothic pointed arch that you see on the right) in the 15th century. (If you make the picture larger, you can see the outline of an older, smaller window to the left of the large window.)

I got so excited exploring this place - such history.... The village of Ledsham itself is interesting too. It had a school and an orphanage endowed by Lady Elizabeth Hastings (1682 -1739), both of which have been converted into very desirable homes.  Ledsham is now a quiet little commuter village, not far from Leeds and the motorway network. (And it has a very nice gastro-pub, The Chequers Inn, which unusually is closed on Sundays because of an old tradition).

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A shady seat

A shady seat in Alexandra Square, Saltaire.  This attractive little square is surrounded by Saltaire's 45 almshouses, built by Sir Titus Salt in 1868 to provide accommodation for the elderly and infirm.  It was originally enclosed by cast iron railings (on top of the little wall).  These were no doubt removed and melted down for munitions in WWII.  In providing these houses for the elderly poor, Salt was copying other local industrialists like Francis Crossley in Halifax, taking on a role which had previously been played by landed gentry.  He offered not only rent-free housing but also a small weekly pension to the residents, who were personally selected by him during his lifetime and then by a board of trustees.  The houses are still occupied, some in private ownership and some managed by a housing trust for Bradford Council and still providing homes for older people.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Summer tree

There begins to be the hint of autumn around ... chilly temperatures in the mornings, an abundance of berries - rowan, elderberry, blackberry and of course those magnifient conkers (horse chestnuts)  - and hints of red and gold visible on a few trees.  I want to hang on to summer for a bit longer!  A walk in my local woods shows that green still dominates.  I love the way the sunlight filters through the leafy canopy.  Hirst Woods is a patch of semi-ancient woodland and has a good mixture of trees including oak, beech, sycamore and birch.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The other cricket pitch

I have shown several photos of the picturesque cricket pitch in Roberts Park, but Saltaire actually has two cricket pitches.  This one is just a little further to the west, between the canal and the river.  It belongs to Salts Sports Association.  In 1924, Salts (Saltaire) Ltd (the company who then owned Salts Mill) bought back from the local council 31 acres of land, which it converted to playing fields for tennis, bowls, cricket and football.  By 1937 they had built up very good facilities including a club house and social centre. These facilities are still well used today.  Very often if you get tired of watching one cricket match you can stroll over and watch another, or maybe a bowls match if you want a change.

This field is lower than the level of the canal and used to be screened by a big metal fence.  That was removed earlier this year, so there is now a lovely view over the field from the canal towpath.  I have fond memories from a few years ago, when our church used to hold a series of annual cricket matches here against other churches  - much fun, fellowship and friendly rivalry.  It will soon be the end of the cricket season - another sign of the gradual change from summer to autumn.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Hirst Weir

We've stopped at this spot - Hirst Weir, just outside Saltaire - before (see 4 December) but it looks much more benign on a summer's day, and the water level is currently not that high. Nevertheless the River Aire still rushes over the weir. There was once a corn mill here, dating back to the 17th century, and power was supplied by a water wheel. The mill was rebuilt in the 19th century and became a paper mill. It is now a private residence.

Talking of water, the Leeds-Liverpool Canal has been reopened again after being closed for nearly two months due to low water levels (see
here and here).

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Sunset reflected

Another lovely sunset, this time reflected in the windows of one of the big semi-detached houses on Albert Road, Saltaire.  These houses were completed in 1868 and marked the final phase of the building of Sir Titus Salt's model village.  At that time, this road was the western boundary of the village and enjoyed an open outlook over the fields.  Since then a newer estate has been built opposite so they don't enjoy such lovely views, but it's still a good place to see the sun set.  For more Weekend Reflections, courtesy of James at Newtown Area Photo, click here.

(How annoying - Blogger has bullied me into using the new post editor and I can now only get the font size bigger or smaller than the old post editor made it.  I don't like either.  I liked it how it was before! Boo!)
PS Thanks to all those who have given me helpful hints in comments and emails on altering the font size.  I have experimented as suggested and changing the size in Design 'advanced' does of course change the font size.  But there is still a difference in size between posts composed using the old post editor (yesterday) and those composed using the new one (today's) even though both were composed with the font set to 12px.  I am getting used to the difference - it's only my personal preference, and a bit of a perfectionist streak!!

Friday, 24 September 2010

It's the BBC again!

(Click picture to view large)
As I said yesterday, there's always something new and different to see in Saltaire. I was walking hobbling (my back still pretending to be 20 years older than it really is ..) home yesterday and noticed a number of film company vans in Salts Mill car park. It didn't take long to find out where the action was. They are filming the period drama
"South Riding" for BBC TV. It's an adaptation, written by Andrew Davies, of a novel by Winifred Holtby, set in 1930s Yorkshire. Read more about it here. It's to be screened in the autumn, so we can all have fun trying to spot the familiar locations.

There didn't seem to be much actual filming going on when I was there, but they were taking a lot of trouble to 'dress' parts of Saltaire and the Mill to suit the period. There were also a number of actors around. I'm not familiar with the key actors listed, so I couldn't say if I saw any of them. I suspect most were simply extras - a job which seems to involve more hanging around waiting than anything. (Check out the lady standing on top of her shoes - ouch!)

Saltaire has been the backdrop to a number of films and TV dramas, most recently the BBC's "Spanish Flu - the Forgotten Fallen", screened in 2009, which saw the Victoria Hall transformed into a hospital dealing with the 1918 flu pandemic. Bradford is the world's first UNESCO City of Film, honouring
the rich tradition of film and film-making in this area.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Green tea?

As I've observed before, there is always something new and different to see in Saltaire, no matter how many times I walk through the village. As I was on my way out of the "Ghosts" exhibition I mentioned a couple of days ago, I spotted (sorry!) this cheerful container. The plant is perhaps a little past its best but it still made an eye-catching display. You may also note the rare (for this area) brick outhouse in the background. They wouldn't allow that to be built nowadays, in the conservation area.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Roof space

(Best viewed large)
Normally the roof space of Salts (West) Mill is not open to the public. But it was used as gallery space for the Saltaire Festival. So I had two good reasons for exploring up there on the top floor - to experience the enormous space (over 190 meters long - that's nearly the length of two football pitches!) and to enjoy the exhibition and a talk by the photographer Asadour Guzelian.

'The Art of News' showed photographs from the archive of Asadour Guzelian, who runs the Guzelian Picture Agency from premises in Little Germany in Bradford. Prior to moving to Bradford, he had an office on Victoria Road in Saltaire for 15 years, so he counts as something of a 'local'. Some of the images in the exhibition are shown on the Guzelian website. His talk was a fascinating insight into photojournalism.

I was encouraged to hear that on a 'shoot' he might normally take between 70 to 90 photos, discard 90% of them, and only really be pleased with one or two. That about equates to my experience too! He also said that many of the pictures that appear spontaneous are not really 'candid' shots but that he does set them up to an extent - so that was encouraging too, as I'm never very pleased with the candid shots I take. There's always something that could have been improved if I'd dared to 'manage' the situation a bit more.

(Thank you all for your kind good wishes - I am pleased to report that my back is much better today. I discovered Voltarol gel - magic!)

Monday, 20 September 2010

Wash out

Sadly, the weather for the final weekend of the Saltaire Festival was a bit of a wash-out. Chilly grey skies on Saturday and incessant drizzle on Sunday. Added to that, I managed to injure my back on Saturday morning. Don't ask me how... I just bent down to pick something up and - aaargh! I did have a hobble round in Saltaire for a while but neither I nor the light was in a good frame of mind for photography. So the finale went undocumented by me, though you can see a few photos on Paul's blog Leeds Daily Photo.

I did however manage to visit some of the exhibitions. The photo above shows part of a multi-media installation in one of the houses on Ada Street, "Ghosts of Ada Street" (by David Honeybone, Jonathan Lindh, Jean Sagheddu, Lynette Willoughby, Terry Wragg & Sue Wray) suggesting "the faint remains of lives lived and generations moved on". It was a thought-provoking comment on Sir Titus Salt's legacy - his benevolent provision for his workers within his 'model village' but also his expectation that the residents should be 'model villagers', sober and hard-working.  As in the case of the Wash-House spurned (see my post of 13 August 2009), some of these expectations had limited success. There are echoes in the present constraints on residents imposed by Saltaire being a conservation area.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Lady in red

The annual Saltaire Festival offers a rich variety of things to see and do. I had a hugely enjoyable evening on Friday at the Fashion Show Spectacular in the Victoria Hall. Arranged by The House of Rose and Brown, the vintage boutique in Saltaire, it featured 25 models showing a gorgeous array of vintage clothes - from the 1920s to the 1980s (eek, I still have some of those in my own wardrobe!). Lingerie, day dresses, tailored costumes, evening wear, beautiful couture outfits and cheeky 1960s mini dresses were modelled with great style by the local girls - none of them professional models, as far as I know, but you might not have guessed.

By the time I'd downed my amaretto cocktail (mmm!) and dealt with the tricky lighting and fast moving action, I only managed blurred photos - but in the case of the lady in red shown above, I think the blur doesn't matter too much. In fact, I shouldn't have mentioned it and you might think I'd made it soft focus on purpose! The model is Amy and she was wearing "a 1950s scarlet taffeta strapless ballgown with padded hips". (Oh, to need padded hips....!)

The clothes modelled, and others too, were all on sale along with accessories and jewellery. A veritable treasure trove and a wonderful evening.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Festival in Saltaire Park

Sir Titus Salt and his daughters, Miss Ameila Salt and Miss Ada Salt, watch children dancing round a maypole in Saltaire Park (now known as Roberts Park) as the grand opening of the park in 1871 is re-enacted as part of this year's Saltaire Festival.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Children's event

Saltaire Festival children's event this year was even more charming than usual. Since the park has had a makeover this year, they decided to re-enact the original opening of Saltaire Park in 1871. (It wasn't called Roberts Park until 1920 when the then owner of Salts and Saltaire, Sir James Roberts, gifted the park to Bradford Corporation.) Schoolchildren from the three local primary schools, dressed in Victorian costume, paraded through the village to the park. There followed an afternoon of entertainment - singing and dancing - in front of invited guests, including Sir Titus Salt himself and his immediate family - and the present day Lord and Lady Mayoress of Bradford.

(The buildings in the background are the Stables and the tower of Saltaire United Reformed Church.)

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Des res

Just to give a bit more context for yesterday's post, the house interior belongs to a house of this type - one of the smaller dwellings in Saltaire, completed in the 1850s. They don't have a front garden, though they each have a small back yard. A living room and kitchen downstairs and two bedrooms plus a bathroom upstairs make them an ideal size for a couple or single person. There are lots for sale at the moment - for anything between £117,000 to £150,000, depending on the size, exact location and state of repair. Houses in Saltaire tend to be priced quite high for their size, as you pay for the privilege of living in a World Heritage Site. A major downside is the competition for parking spaces - Saltaire residents have to have a parking permit and space is limited, as you can see. But hey, who needs a car when the rail station is only two minutes walk away and there are loads of buses too? (Not me!)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Open house

Saltaire, the Victorian paternalist Sir Titus Salt's model village, built to house his mill workers in comfortable and healthy surroundings, is now a World Heritage Site. The houses, as well as the public buildings, are 'listed' and protected, though now in private ownership. One or two people have commented that they'd like to be able to see inside some of the houses. Well, generally speaking you can't. Saltaire is a regular community, not a museum, and the houses are still people's homes (so no, it's not a great idea to press your nose to the windows to peep in!).

The exception to this happens during the Saltaire Festival each year, when a number of private houses are opened up as gallery space for art works of various kinds.
That gave me the opportunity to photograph this interior, one of the smaller 'workmens' cottages' in the western half of Saltaire, built in 1854. The photo is of the downstairs living room. To the left, out of shot, is a doorway to the kitchen (scullery) - about half the size of the main living area. There is also a staircase to the upper floor, which originally had two bedrooms but will now have a bathroom. (The houses were built with a 'privy' - a private outside lavatory - a vast improvement on the conditions the residents would have experienced in inner city Bradford).

The fireplace, though a Victorian design, is not original. There would have been a cooking range here. (See my post of 18 May 2010 for an idea of how the room might have looked in Victorian times.) You can see how light the room is - the village was designed with the optimum space between the rows of houses to maximise the light. They may be over 150 years old but they still make delightful homes. I wonder if the same will be said of the houses we are building today?
(Photograph used with the kind permission of the home owner - many thanks.)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


'Bijou' = small but attractive; small but elegant and tasteful...... Sometimes the nicest things come in very small packages - as with this back garden in the middle of Saltaire. It belongs to one of the 'open houses' of the Saltaire Arts Trail. To take the photo, I stood in the doorway to the house - the entire garden is only a few paces square. Unlike yesterday's garden, it didn't contain any artwork (though there was plenty in the house) but something about the way it was arranged and planted seemed to me really pleasing and uplifting. To my mind the whole little yard is in itself a small work of art: a pleasant place to linger with a coffee and a book, or chat to a friend. Small can definitely be beautiful.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Hidden delights

For the past three years, the Saltaire Arts Trail has been part of the Saltaire Festival, showcasing a variety of different visual arts - paintings, ceramics, sculpture, photography and textiles - through exhibitions and workshops all over Saltaire. Not only are the main public buildings - Salts Mill, the Victoria Hall, the College and the church - used as venues but also, in what is possibly a unique innovation, residents' houses scattered throughout the village are turned into temporary art galleries. So you can browse (and buy) examples of the work of many local artists, whilst at the same time having a peek into some of the interesting village houses.

One of my favourite houses, in Myrtle Place, is set back from the road and has a longer than average front garden. (It's still tiny by most people's standards though - no more than twenty paces from the gate to the front door.) The planting and design are an unexpected delight. A winding path takes you through hedges and shrubs, past a little pond and seating area to the house's front door. Only a few yards from the busy road - but suddenly you can't really see or hear the busy urban scene, and are only aware of this tranquil little oasis of green. And this year the scene was beautifully enhanced by this lovely wire horse, created by the sculptor Chris Moss. What a joy!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Saltaire Festival 2010

Back in Saltaire just in time for this year's Saltaire Festival. The sun shone (well, in between the rain showers anyway!) and the Festival kicked off with much colour and music. These dancers, in front of the Victoria Hall, Saltaire, are our local team of Morris Dancers - Rainbow Morris. (So local in fact that my closest colleague at work is one of the team). They were joined this year by Clogarhythm, a team of dancers from Harrogate.

It was interesting to see the huge difference in the dances of the two traditions.
Rainbow Morris dance in the North-West tradition, their dances originating in towns and villages in the north-west of England. They dance to music, with much weaving, swirling and making patterns. They wave sticks (they use bobbins from Salts Mill), hankies and sometimes garlands. (See video). Clogarhythm's dances are from Lancashire and the north-east - clog step or 'heel and toe' dancing, a bit more like tap-dancing. It reminded me of Irish dancing (not surprisingly, as the dances originated in the cotton mills and there were many Irish immigrants in those mills). The dances are mostly danced in line, arms by their sides with lots of intricate footwork (see video). Their clogs are different too, designed to clatter out a rhythm on the ground, emulating the sounds of the machinery in the cotton mills.

I find it all quite fascinating and I'm so glad people are working hard to keep these traditions alive. It's a fun way to keep fit too (and you have to be fit!). I once tried it ... but found I have no sense of ryhthm at all.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Gable Cottage, Dent

I imagine this doorway looks lovely when the wisteria is in bloom and I presume that's why they have chosen a pale mauve for the paint. But even when the blossom has gone, I think it's a pretty frontage. The two-bedroomed cottage is on Dent's narrow Main Street, and overlooks the church at the back. It's handy for the Sun Inn too!

It is currently For Sale with a guide price of £195,000.00 - the estate agent's details have some pictures of the interior, if you want to peek inside! They seem to be marketing it as a holiday let - and that is one of the problems besetting the Yorkshire Dales villages, where property is priced out of the reach of young couples and families starting out. The villages are becoming 'ghost towns' out of season. Let's hope that never happens to Saltaire.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Now and then......

I like comparing 'then' and 'now' photographs, and here is a pair showing the old Post Office in Dent, on the interestingly named road The Laning. As the first photo shows, it is no longer a Post Office but a private house. I don't know how old the second photo is - possibly taken just before the First World War? The lady still appears to be wearing a high-necked Edwardian dress. The road is rough and stony and clearly a pony and trap was the local mode of transport of the day.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Dent village

Dentdale is about 10 miles long. Early Norse settlers preferred to live in scattered homesteads throughout the valley and, perhaps as a result, there is only the one small village of Dent and a few little hamlets in the dale. The village of Dent sits above the River Dee, and the oldest part of the village - shown here - around the Norman church, has very narrow cobbled streets and is quite picturesque. The large stone you can see at the corner of the house in the distance is actually a drinking fountain and commemorates Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873), known as the father of modern geology, who was born in Dent, son of the local Anglican vicar. The Dent area also has a strong Quaker tradition.

I'm putting more photos of Dent and Dentdale on my other blog.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


In times past, the hills and moors of Yorkshire and Cumbria were much more heavily populated and worked than they are now. There were mines (coal, lead), quarries and lime kilns, as well as farms and handloom weavers' cottages (and hand knitters in Dentdale). I was fascinated to come across this restored lime kiln in Dentdale, with its useful explanatory board - for a more complete explanation, see here. Lime was one of the goods ferried by train and on the canals from the Dales to the cities during the Industrial Revolution. It has a number of uses, in building and in agriculture.

The cellar in my house is white lime-washed - and the mortar in the stone walls is black lime mortar. Lime mortar is relatively soft, allowing some flexibility in the walls as the ground shifts and settles and it also allows the walls to breath and moisture to evaporate. It can cause problems in these old houses if you cover them over with modern mortar or render, leading to damp and cracking. Though the other problem is that, over time, the mortar degrades a bit and the black gritty dust creeps into the house, which isn't good news.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Old barn door

(Best viewed large)
Dentdale, like most of the other Yorkshire Dales, has plenty of old stone barns up on the hills as well as down in the valley. This one had a nice weathered door, with a lovely selection of ferns growing between the stones.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The highs...

Had a weekend of highs and lows... The highs were here - Dentdale, one of the smaller and less well-known Yorkshire Dales, up to the northeast of Saltaire (almost in the Lake District). My journey started on the glorious Settle to Carlisle railway line, known as one of the best railway journeys in England. On the way to Dent, the train soars over the Ribblehead Viaduct among some wild and beautiful scenery. Dent Station is actually about 4 miles outside Dent village, up a steep hill - so I was glad that there is a special bus connection on Saturdays for visitors. I walked a circular walk around Dentdale, up onto the edge of the moors and then back along the riverside. At one point I found this wonderful viewpoint over the Dale. There was a plaque showing the main points of interest and this verse (from: 'Smiling Along' by Kathleen Partridge), which pretty much summed up how I felt:

Roaming the byways outside the great city
The sky seems too large for my little concerns;
Worries are lost in the green of the landscape
A sense of wellbeing and wonder returns.
A good wholesome breeze sweeps the frown from my forehead,
Here is simplicity, fragrant and free.
It is enough to be living this minute;
To feel and to hear, to think and to see

The lows?... Unfortunately my worries didn't stay lost for long. My washer-dryer broke down, necessitating a great deal of rewashing, by hand, to try and get the oily marks out of the clothes (!) - not to mention the expense of a new machine. Ah well, luckily Saltaire has a launderette until I can sort out a replacement.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Red door, blue door

A while ago, I posted a picture of two magificent front doors on the big houses on Albert Road - the 'posh' end of Saltaire. As a contrast, these are two doors on one of the streets of small workmen's cottages in the centre of the village. The red one looks like an original door or a faithful copy. The blue one is a poor copy (and I don't know what they've done to the stonework either!) Now that the village is a conservation area and all the buildings are 'listed', people have to abide by strict planning regulations. A lot of householders are making efforts to improve the houses (which are 150 years old now), reinstating the original features. But much remains to be done.

Incidentally, the leaded glass above these doors isn't Victorian either. Many houses had these put in in the 1930s after Salts Estate sold off the village houses into private ownership. You will note the absence of a doorbell too. These houses are small enough that a knock will do!

Saturday, 4 September 2010


Another Victoria Mills image, one of the original fire escapes on the old building.

Friday, 3 September 2010

VM from the riverside

This is the riverside view of the Victoria Mills apartment complex, showing the new-build blocks. There must be a fabulous panorama from those top penthouses - right up the Aire Valley, with a wonderful view over Saltaire and Salts Mill.

When I hanker after a compact, easy to maintain home (instead of a 110+ year old house with lots of steep stairs) I wonder what it would be like to live here. But if
, like me, you don't have a car, these flats are actually in quite an isolated position and I wouldn't much fancy walking home in the dark from the railway station. Though it would be handy for work, being right next door!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Victoria Mills

Victoria Mills in Shipley has been imaginatively converted into a huge apartment complex, with some 'industrial loft-style' apartments in the old mill buildings and some new-build blocks. Altogether there are about 300 apartments, some of which are owner-occupied, some rented and some serviced apartments for business travellers. It is set among landscaped gardens with a gym, shop and bar-restaurant within the complex. It's like a small village in itself.

When the apartments first came on sale, my friend and I went to tour the show apartments (does anyone else like, doing that?). I'd no intention of buying, but I was curious to see what they were like inside. The fittings - kitchen, bathroom etc - are very stylish, but there wasn't much storage space in the bedrooms. I concluded they were really meant for young folks who haven't had time to accumulate much junk... not oldies like me with years-worth of precious clutter (not to mention the 'treasures' added by aged relatives who've downsized and offspring who've not yet upsized!)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


This is another view that I see as I walk to work. It's the chimney of Victoria Mills, once a textile mill, recently converted into apartments. It's half a mile along the Aire valley from Salts Mill and was built about 20 years later, in the 1870s, by Henry Mason. It wasn't nearly as big as Salts Mill but in its heyday it was still one of the 'big four' significant mills in Bradford in terms of manufacturing worsted cloth. It does, however, retain one feature that Salts has lost - the ornate top of the chimney stack.

I love the juxtaposition of the old industrial buildings against the soft green backdrop of Baildon Moor - so typical of West Yorkshire as a whole, where the mills nestle in the valley bottoms and the fields and moors soar over them.... immortalised of course in William Blake's famous poem, now the epic anthem "Jerusalem".

And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England's mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God on England's pleasant pastures seen? And did the Countenance Divine shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here, among these dark Satanic Mills?

(This quotation once memorably won a newspaper competition - "Questions to which the answer is NO"!)