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Saturday, 31 December 2011

The long view

The view of the long south front of Salts Mill, taken from the railway bridge - probably the most iconic image of Saltaire (even seen in the video intro to our local BBC News programme).  It looks nice with the honey-coloured stone catching the sunshine - and the red SALTS sign.... our equivalent of the Hollywood sign, I always think!

I don't know why, but it seemed a suitable photo to round off another year.  I guess I've learned to 'take the long view' about a lot of things as I've got older and (possibly) wiser.

I tried correcting the verticals on this (Michael will be pleased to know) but I decided I preferred it distorted.  It emphasises the mill's bulk and length, I think.  And by the way, my current header picture is a night-time view of all these windows.  I like the way the lit windows have different colour temperatures.

Friday, 30 December 2011


I don't think I have posted a photo before showing the close-up detail of a column of the bandstand in Roberts Park. (See my post last Tuesday for a photo of the whole structure.) There was originally a modest bandstand in Victorian times but it was dismantled at some stage.  During the restoration of the park in 2010 the bandstand was re-instated.  On the website of Chris Topp, wrought iron works, I've recently come across a fascinating account of how the design evolved, from a series of drawings made by children at Saltaire Primary School, who combined the two ideas of 'music' and 'park'.  The result was these colourful horns blowing flowers.  Actually there are four different designs for the capitals.  The account is, I think, worth reading and the results worth studying.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Santa Claus

As we say goodbye to Christmas 2011, I leave you with one final window from Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar.  In fact I think this was a 'first' for Saltaire, in that it was not just one static image but a series of projected images, showing different depictions of Santa Claus.   I don't know where the original images came from... perhaps old Christmas cards, postcards or magic lantern slides, but they had a lot of charm.  I am showing a collage of just four of them but there were several more and the website has a short video showing them all.

Santa Claus is of course a person wreathed in myth, legend and folklore, said to relate to Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Greek Bishop with a reputation for secretly giving gifts.  This led via the Dutch elision 'Sinterklaas' to the modern name Santa Claus.  I have to say that I find these old drawings rather more appealing than the popular portly red and white fellow we see these days.

Anyway, I hope you were well-behaved enough during 2011 that he left you some gifts!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

I think I know why the dog howls at the moon

Another of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar windows - and a rare guest photographer on Salt & Light.  I tried and failed to take a decent photo of this window.  There was a tree in the way, hence the slightly sideways viewpoint.  But more of a problem was that, with my short lens, I would have had to set up my tripod in the middle of Albert Road in the dark.  As I didn't think that very advisable, I am delighted my friend Roy had a longer lens and the generosity to let me use his photo.

The painting reminded me of this music track by Johnny Clegg - 'Dela (I think I know why the dog howls at the moon)'.  It's part of the soundtrack to a Disney movie, "George of the Jungle".  (I know, my mind works funny sometimes!!)

One day I looked up and there you were,
like a simple question looking for an answer.
Now I am the whale listening to some inner call,
swimming blindly to throw myself upon your shore.
What if I don't find you when I have landed?
Will you leave me here to die on your shore stranded?

I think I know why the dog howls at the moon.

I think I know why the dog howls at the moon.

Ah well, put it down to the stress of Christmas....

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

As the sun sets

Isn't it nice how late afternoon winter sunshine makes colours glow?  The statue of Sir Titus Salt in Saltaire's Roberts Park overlooks the restored bandstand, with one of the restored pavilions in the background.  The statue was erected in 1903 to commemorate the centenary of Salt's birth and was commissioned by Sir James Roberts, the Managing Director of the Mill at the time.  The front of the statue can be seen here.

Monday, 26 December 2011


The Christmas tree outside Saltaire's Victoria Hall would have benefited from a few more lights, I think - especially as it has to compete with the floodlighting of the magnificent Italianate facade of the Hall. (Compare with my picture two years ago.) Nevertheless, when I was out with my tripod the other night I felt it was worthy of a photo.  I'm still practising both the use of the tripod and my new camera's settings for night photography.  It always feels bit of an effort to go out, especially on a cold evening - but I do like night shots and it's something I'd like to learn to do well.  I'm fortunate that several of Saltare's public buildings are floodlit at night so there are subjects right on my doorstep.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Santa baby

Big yawn... Santa baby had a hard night!  This photo of my grand-daughter, taken on my daughter's iPhone (amazing gadget) is one that has made me smile so many times in the past couple of weeks.  She's such a cutie. (I know, I'm biased!)  I hope, like me, you feel truly blessed by those things that money can't buy - life, love, family, friends.  And friends for me definitely includes all you lovely folk I've met through blogging. Wishing you all a very happy Christmas Day - with chance for a snooze if you need one!

(And if you need some more cuteness have a look at this:  "How to wrap a cat for Christmas"!)

Saturday, 24 December 2011


‘For to us a child is born…and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’
Isaiah 9: 6

Wishing you, and all those whom you love, a joy-filled and peaceful Christmas - wherever you are and whatever you will be doing.  The Nativity tableau that ended my church's 'Walking Nativity' earlier this month seems a suitable picture to remind of the story at the heart of Christmas.

One of my friends had this on his Facebook page. (I'm sure he won't mind me pinching it.)  I thought it a timely reminder:

1 Corinthians 13, the Christmas Version: 

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, friends and neighbours, I’m just another decorator. 
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, friends and neighbours, I’m just another cook. 
If I work at the soup kitchen, sing carols in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, friends and neighbours, it profits me nothing. 
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point! 
Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. 
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. 
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure forever.  Christmas is love.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Number 17

The Advent window unveiled on 17th December, as part of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar, showed this delightful and masterly painting of Saltaire's historic United Reformed Church, in the snow.  Perhaps it was inspired by last year at this time, when it looked quite like this!  I think I'm right in saying that it was painted by one of Saltaire's resident artists, David Starley, whose bold oil paintings of local scenes I have mentioned before.  Isn't it wonderful how much effort our artistic community puts into these windows?  Each one must take hours of thought and work, each one is a little gem - and all for a brief 'exhibition' through until January 5th.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Bradford Voices

My brisk walk on a decidedly chilly Sunday afternoon was brightened by the festive songs in Roberts Park from 'Bradford Voices'.  They are a community choir based in Saltaire.  I have several friends who are members.  (Singing seems to be something a lot of my friends have taken up in later years.  I might have joined them but I'm too deaf even to hear myself sing, never mind everyone else!  And I most likely sing flat now..)  Bradford Voices meet weekly in the Methodist Church Hall to sing and enjoy music together.  Part of their ethos is that everyone has a voice and is encouraged to sing, whether or not they can read music.  There are no auditions and, though they make a very nice sound, their approach seems to be a lot more 'laid-back' than some choirs.  They do lots of performances and many of them seem to be outside, street-based.  Clearly one of the prerequisites for joining is a good set of thermal underwear!  They had a small but appreciative audience by the Half-Moon Café in the park (funny how no-one likes to sit on the front row) and they managed to keep singing, despite me running around taking photos.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Gnomes need homes

I visited the annual Christkindelmarkt in Leeds Millennium Square on Saturday, hoping to buy some authentic German Stollen cake.  (I bought some last year and it was lovely.)  Sadly, no cake to be seen, though plenty of other sweet treats - marshmallows, chocolates, doughnuts, poffertjes, sticky nuts...  There were many colourful stalls, none more so than this one full of cheeky garden gnomes.  Heigh ho, heigh ho.... Happily, M&S supplied the Stollen!

Sorry I'm not getting around to commenting on many blogs this week.  I will be back as soon as time stretches again!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas shopping

Here's an unusual view of one of the main pedestrianised shopping areas, Briggate, in Leeds city centre.  It is usually thronged with shoppers but on Saturday there was also a fun fair.  I paid my £1 and climbed the helter-skelter to see what the view was like from the top!  Mind you, I chose to return sedately down the steps rather than take the quick route down the slide.  (I had my precious Nikon hanging round my neck!)  Somewhere among the crowds you will see a Salvation Army band playing Christmas carols - and also a fire engine.  The fire crew was in the Victoria Quarter arcade and seemed to be pumping out the basement of a jeweller's shop - I'm not sure why.  It all added to the fun!

11m Britons were expected to go shopping last Saturday, spending something like £1.05 billion. (I wonder how they work that out?)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Saturday morning lie-in?

'The 99%' camped around the Christmas tree in Leeds City Square seemed to be having a Saturday morning lie-in.  When I passed by, there was no evidence of 'Occupy Leeds' protestors, only sealed-up tents.  This is a small section of the global 'Occupy' movement, one of many such camps in UK cities, the biggest and most publicised being the one outside St Paul's Cathedral in London.  They seem to have identified a problem ('all the power and money [is] in the hands of a corrupt and self-serving top 1%')  but as yet I haven't heard any solutions.  Whilst not unsympathetic to them or their ideals, I suspect many of those involved across the country are serial activists - not so long ago they were all climbing trees as 'eco-warriors'. Methinks the 50% of the 99% who have jobs might be contributing to their upkeep (though it's sadly true that a lot of young people who would love to have a job can't get one right now).

The imposing building in the background used to be the main Post Office in Leeds.  Seems to me that we owe the 1% of Victorians quite a debt...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Glory to God

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying:
'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.'  Luke 2:13-14

To be honest, I find Christmas a time of greatly mixed feelings.  On the one hand, it's chance to reflect again on the beginning of the central story of the Christian faith, that God sent his son to be born among us, to bring us life.  And given my own thankfulness for my granddaughter's recent birth, that story this year has a special relevance.  It was a delight to see it enacted once again by members of our church, including the youth group, in our third 'Walking Nativity'.  You'll see we have some angels among us!

On the other hand, every year I seem to feel increasingly uncomfortable with the excesses with which we are urged to celebrate the festival.  Magazines full of recipes, presents, ideas for decorations seem to make Christmas something of a competitive sport.  I know there are many people who have a real gift for making Christmas special for their families and children and I'm not knocking that.  Nor am I deriding the joy and meaning that comes from dusting off the family's traditions and decorations - and the memories that come with them.  It just seems sad that the Christmas story (to me anyway) holds the antidote to the emptiness that it seems some people try to fill with alcohol, food or lavish spending - and yet time and again we fail to make the connection. 

To use that wonderful American expression... Just sayin'...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Three kings

The advent window at Saltaire's Methodist Church takes a suitably religious theme, that of the three magi journeying to Bethlehem.  This window was produced by members of the Art Group that meets in the Methodist church halls.  I like the boldness of the kings - such strong graphic shapes suit the medium, I think.

To see more of the windows from Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar, scroll through my blog or look at the web page hosted by the Saltaire Village website.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Festive tree 2011

Salts Mill in Saltaire has at least two Christmas trees each year: one in the 1853 Gallery, which I showed a photo of last year and one in the Book Shop.  I liked this one best this year.  It has candy canes and little toys and lots of 'Hohoho's, all rather jolly.  I'm hoping I get as many big presents as this from Santa... but I don't think there's much chance of that.  Anyway, they're all too big to be an iPad!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Upside down

I recently posted a photo of Saltaire's New Mill, taken from the canal towpath on the Shipley side.  I suppose that's really the iconic view of the New Mill but I guess there have been many photographers who have also noticed and caught this 'upside down' view of the mill chimney, reflected in the water of the canal that runs between the New Mill and Salts Mill itself.  Taken from the Victoria Road bridge, it also shows the sole remaining covered walkway that links the mills.  There used to be three.  To see the same scene the proper way up, look here!

As I've said previously (but will repeat for the benefit of those who've not been following my blog for long) the New Mill chimney is a copy of the campanile of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, a gesture that took the Victorian Italianate architecture of Saltaire to a new level.  I still feel amazed at the grandeur of these industrial buildings, and indeed of the whole village.  Sir Titus Salt must have wanted it all to be such a grand statement.  He was fifty years old when Salts Mill opened in 1853 and could, I suppose, happily have retired with his wealth intact.  For complex reasons - political, social, economic and personal - he chose to invest his fortune in building the huge mill and its surrounding village.  It brought all his textile manufacturing operations together on one vast site and provided a much healthier and more pleasant environment for his workers to live in, away from the noxious conditions of the time in Bradford.   Salt must have seemed like Father Christmas to them!  (though there was of course a healthy dose of self-interest alongside his paternalism).

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


I love this one, the tenth window in Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar.  It's only small - the transom window above the front door of a house on Rhodes Street - but I think it's really imaginative and rather sweet.  Some of the owls look like mere babies, but it put me in mind of this quote:

'A wise old owl sat on an oak;  the more he saw the less he spoke;  
The less he spoke the more he heard; why aren't we like that wise old bird?'

And - ha! - did you know the collective name for a group of owls is a parliament?!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Row, row, row, row the boat

Here's a rare sight - a rowing crew gliding through Saltaire on the canal.  Bradford Amateur Rowing Club has its boathouse on the River Aire up by Hirst Weir, on land given to them by Sir Titus Salt in 1893.  You can often see rowers practising there, but I don't think I've ever seen them on this stretch of water.  We've had a lot of rain lately and there are flood warnings on some of our rivers so I can only assume that the river itself is too swollen and dangerous to use at the moment.  The canal looks fuller than usual, actually.

I know little about rowing so I can't say for sure what type of boat this is.  The four oarsmen have two oars each so Wikipedia tells me that they are sculling.  They have a cox too though.  They must be dedicated, to be out practising on a Sunday morning in December in the rain.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Reindeer Race

Steady heavy drizzle didn't seem to deter the runners (and walkers) who took part in Epilepsy Action's annual charity 5km Reindeer Stampede in Roberts Park on Sunday.  The rain nearly put me off going out but it seemed a shame not to document the event (I missed it last year).  The light was so dull that I had a bit of a fight with my camera to get shots that weren't blurred!  Note the long lens the pro was using (bottom left) - I think he was probably from the local newspaper.  Runners seemed glad to reach the finish line by the bandstand, to collect their medal and a rather soggy mince pie!  I'm not sure what the resident alpacas thought of all the 'reindeer' running by...  I do salute those who organise and participate in such events, in order to raise money for good causes.  In these times of government cut-backs, volunteer action is even more important to support those whose lives are, for whatever reason, made difficult.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Two by two

It's time for another of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar windows, I think.  This, the second window, is quite a contrast to the one I showed you first.  It's much more detailed, showing Noah's Ark with the animals going in two by two.  Very attractive and rather magical, I think this would appeal to children especially.  They'd be excited to discover all the different creatures - do you see the sea-horses?  The window can be found on Constance Street.  See my post of 2 December for an explanation of the Living Advent Calendar idea and a photo of the first window.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Star light

Family life has been so exciting of late (!) that I don't seem to feel like I need Christmas on top of it - and I sense that others are finding it a bit hard to get into the right frame of mind too, for one reason or another.  With the global economic gloom and the news from the Eurozone, everything seems rather depressing.  I have to say that I'm glad I'm not a retailer or market trader.  There was a Christmas market in Shipley yesterday but there didn't seem to be many shoppers.  I'm only going to be spending about half of what I'd usually spend on gifts and I guess that's true for others too.  Even the Christmas lights seem a bit sparse this year.  I walked all the way up to Shipley's main square to take a photo of the (very modern) Christmas tree, only to find it wasn't even lit!  Still I did find this star illumination against the background of Shipley's clock tower (the tower a 60's design that you either love or hate).  I did take several photos of the illuminations that were pin-sharp - but perversely preferred this one, where my hand slipped!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Rose & Co

Rose & Co's famous Apothecary shop in Haworth is like a step back in time.  Lit by sparkling chandeliers and always beautifully fragranced, the shop has old-style, rich mahogany and glass display cabinets.  It sells high-class bath, beauty and household products, some still manufactured to old-fashioned formulations.  The shop is a restored Victorian druggist shop and is reputed to be where Branwell Brontë bought the laudanum (tincture of opium) to which he was addicted.  He was also an alcoholic and sadly these addictions masked the tuberculosis from which he suffered, until it was too late to save him.  He died at the age of 31 and his sisters Emily and Anne also died of the disease within a year of his death.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Haworth Couldn't Wear Less

I imagine most people will have heard of the wonderful film 'Calendar Girls', based on the real life exploits of a group of women from a W.I. (Women's Institute) in the Yorkshire Dales, who had the idea to pose naked for a calendar to raise money for charity.  It sparked global interest - and since then several other groups have followed their lead and done similar things.  It seems that Haworth has joined the trend, with their 2012 calendars 'Haworth Couldn't Wear Less' (women only and men only versions!)  Believe it or not, this is part of the fund-raising effort for the restoration of the parish church, which is in a poor state and urgently needs repair.  Christmas present, anyone?

The photo above shows an advertisement for the calendar, behind the village stocks - with a picture of the men actually sitting in the stocks.  Stocks, of course, were at one time a common sight in English villages. Local troublemakers were pinned into them and exposed to the scorn of passers-by who often threw mud or rotten vegetables at the offenders.  No evidence that the calendar models got pelted with anything - but I'll bet there were some ripe comments made at the time.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Haworth in festive mood

When I'm trying to get into the mood for Christmas, a trip to Haworth often helps.  Its cobbled streets and olde-worlde charm somehow seem right for the festive season.  Most weekends in December they have some kind of theme going on.  Last weekend there was a wartime flavour, with a 1940s vintage fair and a Wartime Christmas Ball on Saturday in the Community Centre.  Next weekend will be even more spectacular, with carol-singing and a torchlight procession up the Main Street.  The Christmas decorations are cheery and even the red phone box seems to add a festive touch.

Haworth, of course, was the home of the literary Brontë family.  Patrick Brontë, father of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, was the parish priest of Haworth's church.  Branwell, their brother, used to frequent the Black Bull pub, seen in my photo.  He was a freemason and was the secretary of the local Lodge, which at one time used to meet in the pub.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Day care

I was reminded  of this when I read Alan's blog a week or so ago.  He was saying that his wife's 'default' activity is shopping, whereas his most definitely is not.  I'm sure that's true of a lot of marriages - and an enterprising pub in Shipley has recognised that fact.  Conveniently situated beside the Leeds-bound platform of Shipley railway station, it's ideally placed for a wife to settle her husband in the day-care centre before catching the train to the city shops. I should think it will be busy in the run up to Christmas.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Shadow rings

The window of Dot the Jewellers in Saltaire's Victoria Road provides an interesting play of light and shadow on a sunny day.

Trading from these premises since 2007, the owner John Bradley makes exquisite, modern, bespoke jewellery (mainly engagement, wedding and eternity rings) using computer-aided design.  I've featured the shop on this blog before, when they had a robbery in 2009, but thankfully that unhappy incident does not appear to have affected their trade.

The shop, Number 5 Victoria Road, started life as a general dealer's before becoming, amongst other things: a china shop, a butcher's, a lemon cheese maker's, a tea room, a fish and chip shop and a junk shop.  In 1993 the upper floors became the offices of a photographic agency, owned by Asadour Guzelian, which supplied photos to national newspapers.  It was apparently his intention to develop a photo gallery at street level (I would have liked that!) but that never really happened and the jeweller moved in.  The photo agency eventually moved to larger premises in Bradford's Little Germany.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Winter light

A familiar view of Saltaire's New Mill, with its ornate chimney.  I have featured this several times before on my blog, and yet sometimes I seem to see it afresh - in a new light, as it were.  I like the way the weak winter sunshine picks out the shape and lends a muted colour palette.

Friday, 2 December 2011

In a pear tree

For the sixth year running, Saltaire is sharing its Living Advent Calendar in the run up to Christmas - 24 windows around the village, illuminated with festive scenes.  Every day from 1st to 24th December a new scene is 'opened' at dusk and those so inclined can follow the trail around the village, discovering the wonderfully creative interpretations that our inventive residents put together.  This is the first one, on Titus Street.

Regular readers of my blog will remember me featuring some of the windows in previous years.  I think it's a wonderful 'new tradition'.  It certainly brings me a lot of pleasure as I'm sure it does others too.  It's even featured on The Guardian website already this year.

There are two associated celebrations:  this Saturday 3rd there is an event (featuring Hall Royd Brass Band) at the Victoria Hall at 6.30pm to mark the switching-on of the Christmas lights.  Later, on Christmas Eve at 7pm, there is carol singing round the village, following the Advent Trail.  No excuse not to get into the festive mood!

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Living in such a historic place as Saltaire and keen to showcase its rugged beauty to those who have never visited, I sometimes think I may be in danger of 'talking up' the area as a whole.  There is lots that is genuinely attractive and worthy of photographing - but we have our share of 'ordinary' (and 'horrible') as well.  Oddly enough, I am always pleased to see those aspects of other parts of the world on other people's blogs.  It's interesting to see the similarities and differences and those are often more obvious in the 'ordinary' aspects of our towns and cities.  With that in mind, I am determined to capture a few of the less immediately attractive parts of Saltaire and Shipley.

What better place to start than an enterprise that I pass daily on my walk to work: 'Bubbles', the hand car-wash.  There was time when all car-washes in these parts were those fearsome drive-through type with huge rotating brushes that threatened to tear off your car aerial or any loose bits of trim.  My daughter,  as a child,  always used to get excited when the car was dunked in foam.  These days they seem to be a dying breed, supplanted by armies of young men energetically spraying and polishing.  Supposed to be less likely to scratch the paintwork - but I have my doubts!  Anyway, Bubbles is a cheerful looking place and seems to do a good trade most of the time.  A lot of my neighbours seem to stick with the old-fashioned methodology - a soapy sponge and a bucket or a hosepipe, on the street outside the house.  Much cheaper.  Much more convivial too; someone always stops to chat.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Not many people know that there's a fire-breathing dragon hiding under the road bridge over the Leeds- Liverpool Canal in Shipley ... I don't know how long this mural has been there.  It's a bit faded and marked and has seen better days.  I don't know its history either, whether it was commissioned or is simply 'graffiti'.  I'm quite fond of it though; it's a friendly-looking creature and it certainly brightens up what would otherwise be a very boring stretch of grey concrete.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Three chimneys

[Mouse over]
Narrowboats moored for the winter beside Shipley Wharf.  It seemed a popular spot for fishermen that day.  I wonder if the fish congregate here?  Perhaps by the boats it's a bit warmer or something?  (Can you tell I've never done any fishing?!)  In the distance you can see Saltaire's three chimneys.  The palest square one on the right is Salts Mill.  The others belong to smaller mills at Salts Wharf.

Mouse over for the colour version of this photo.  I think I prefer the simpler lines of the black and white version, although it was initially the colours of the boats and autumn trees that enticed me to take the photo.  The morning light was nice that day.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Park Lodge

Saltaire Park was opened in 1871, laid out with a large cricket field, the Half Moon Pavilion, the bandstand and a number of walks and avenues around a central promenade, surrounded by shrubs, trees and formal planting.  In those days Victoria Road, the main thoroughfare through Saltaire, crossed the River Aire by a bridge and ended at the Lodge you see here, with the entrance to the park on the left.  To the right and through metal gates, a long private carriageway led up to Milner Field, the grand house built by Titus Salt Junior and later lived in by Sir James Roberts' family.

The Park was renamed Roberts Park in 1920, when it was given to Bradford Corporation by Sir James Roberts (who in 1918 had sold Salts Mill and Saltaire to a consortium of businessmen).  Sir James was another remarkable man, who had revived the fortunes of Salts Mill after it went into liquidation in 1892 and who contributed much to Saltaire's history.  (He later bought Haworth's Brontë Parsonage and bequeathed it to the nation.)  He outlived his four sons and the park is dedicated to one of them, Bertram Foster Roberts, who I believe died in 1912.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Eye of the Tiger

One of the undoubted benefits from the restoration of Saltaire's Roberts Park in 2010 was the creation of a large and well-equipped play area.  It caters not only for smaller children but for young teenagers too, having an area set aside for skateboarding and BMX bikes.  It is always packed full of youngsters and has obviously proved popular.  A curved wall provides some separation between the different activities, and this has been painted with eye-catching graffiti-style murals, including this magnificent tiger's eye.  Saltaire is full of surprises!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Secret Santa

Life is so full at the moment that I haven't even begun to think about Christmas.  I was a bit startled therefore to notice this cheery little fellow atop the steps leading to Saltaire's Visitor Information Centre.  Nice to know I don't have to go far to buy my charity Christmas cards this year though.  (And now I come to think of it, there's only one month to go... eek!  Better start thinking about it then...)

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Spotted outside Salts Village Bakery and Tearooms on Saturday morning, this little dog looked as though it was longing for a cuppa.  Or at least to get into the warm fug inside, on what was quite a chilly, misty morning.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Fire and Ice

More pictures from Bradford's 'Fire and Ice' Spectacular...   The fire came in the shape of an towering robotic reflective metal sculpture with glowing lights - the Ice Queen - that glided along on wheels and emitted huge billows of flames.  Definitely spectacular!  I don't know what the children made of it.  I would have been terrified as a child, but today's kids seem to be made of stronger stuff.

The ice was a trail of attractive ice sculptures around the city centre, that told the story of a kind-hearted little angel who had no wings. Of course, she earned her wings in the end, though by the time the sculptor, Jamie Wardley, had finished carving the last block, the angel's wings were fast vanishing, melting on what was - for November - quite a warm day in the sheltered city centre.  Jamie, of 'Sand in Your Eye', is a local artist with an international reputation, who uses sand and ice for his work.  He made an amazing sand sculpture of Charles Darwin in Bradford two years ago, to mark the bicentenary of Darwin's birth.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ice maidens

I don't know if other cities do the same thing, but Bradford usually has some kind of festivities in the city centre to mark the 'Grand Switching-on of the Christmas Lights'.  It always seems too early to me to be thinking about Christmas in mid-November, but I guess the shops need the trade, particularly at the moment.

This year's 'Spectacular' was on the theme of 'Fire and Ice' so I went along to see what it was all about.  These two young ladies were walking around on stilts, looking rather beautiful and mysterious.  I suppose they were Ice Maidens or Ice Queens.

I didn't stay for the show at dusk, when there was to be some kind of theatrical event and fireworks.  (Not much is allowed to come between me and my Saturday night viewing of the TV show 'Strictly Come Dancing'!)

The building behind the girls is Bradford's ornate City Hall, another beautiful building built in Italianate style.  Designed by Saltaire's architects, Lockwood and Mawson, it was opened in 1873, shortly after Saltaire was finished.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Love trees

Spotted this in London on one of my visits.  It was actually a sign meant to warn buses and high vehicles about overhanging tree branches - Low Trees -  but somebody had been quite creative in amending it.  Anyway... I do!

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Mum and baby.  I'll let you gaze too....

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Time flies...

It's a typical November day here - chilly, misty, a hint of watery sunshine every now and again. The trees have shed most of their leaves; it only needs a few days of wind for the rest to drop, but the air is very still. I've had one of those ordinary days, catching up on chores, a bit of shopping, a short walk - but it's been good and I am so thankful for 'ordinary'.

I don't know where the time is going at the moment....!  My last few posts were auto-posted as I've been in London for a few days giving my daughter some support.  Pleased to report that mum, dad and baby are all well and thriving.  I had forgotten just how much time and space a tiny baby commands, but she is adorable and getting less tiny by the day - 2.2 kg now (that's 4 lbs 13 oz).  I find I spend a lot of time just gazing at her.... even though my role was meant to be cooking, washing and generally keeping the home fires burning.  I did plenty of that, actually.

Arrived home to find my internet connection was up the spout and I've spent two days trying to figure it out. My ISP has tinkered about with the service to increase the broadband speed - and kindly sent me an email with an incorrect user-name to re-establish my connection.  Grrr.  Anyway, eventually got it sorted, to my relief.  I really hate being without it.  And that problem solved seems finally to have allowed me to relax, after quite a tense few weeks.  So I'm really enjoying my weekend.  I might even find time to visit a few blogs again, which I have sadly neglected to do.  Hope you have a lovely weekend too.

PS: My title reminded me of a punctuation puzzle my high school English teacher once gave us to do:

 time flies you cannot they pass much too quickly

Friday, 18 November 2011

It's that time of year...

It's that time of year again, where the nights are drawing in and it's getting dark when I leave work around 5pm.  I can never decide if I like it or not.  I like the blue dusk sky and I like seeing lights twinkling.  It feels good when I finally reach the cosiness of home after a brisk and often chilly walk.  Right now it's light when I leave for work in the mornings but in a week or two it will be dark then as well and that's what I dislike - never being at home in the daylight, except for at the weekends.  Opportunities for photography become more limited too.  This year I must get out with my tripod and take some more night scenes...

What with dashing up and down to and from London several times recently, being a doting grandmother ;-)  I am a bit short on scenic pictures.  (I am of course building up quite a stock of baby photos!)  I actually took this photo earlier this year...  Now they are building an orthodontics factory on the wasteland where I stood to take the picture, so the whole terrain is changing.   The buildings you can see are the old Victoria Mills, now converted into apartments, and one of the new blocks they have also built on the complex. (Click label below for more photos of Victoria Mills).

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Let's have a butchers...

At one time Saltaire had shops on most of the street corners, but nowadays only a handful remain outside the main parades of Victoria Street and Gordon Terrace.  No 14 Katherine Street has always been a butcher's shop.  In 1974 it was taken over by Harry Hodgson and remains today in the care of his son Eric. At its peak, the shop had six full-time and two part-time staff and was open six days a week.  Now Eric does most of his business supplying restaurants, pubs and nursing homes and the shop only opens on Friday and Saturday mornings.  Apparently most of the difficulty stems from the huge burden of rules and regulation and the associated paperwork, much of it stemming from the foot and mouth crisis in UK in 2001/02 which resulted in increased regulation from our own government and the EU.  It's not to say that this regulation is unnecessary but it does present a large administrative burden that is particularly hard for a small business to carry.  I imagine that the shop will one day close completely, perhaps when Eric chooses to retire, but it will be a loss for the village and its history.  I'm fond of the rather endearing signage and hope that stays even when the shop is gone!

By the way, many of you will know that 'To have a butchers (hook)' is Cockney rhyming slang for 'To have a look'.  Not very Yorkshire, for sure, but it seemed a good title!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Penny for Going

I don't remember if I mentioned it at the time but a few weeks ago I went to a meeting of the Saltaire History Club, at which two new books related to Saltaire were introduced.  I (of course) bought them both and have started reading this one: 'A Penny for Going' by Roger Clarke.  It recounts Saltaire's history through its shops and shopkeepers, and reflects on how changes in society since the mid 1800s have been mirrored in the changes to the number and type of shops in and around the village.  There used to be many more shops than there are now and at one time Saltaire could supply pretty much everything a family needed from within the village.  Not so now, when we go further afield to supermarkets, the city centres and retail parks for life's basic necessities - and the village's shops are by and large supplying the needs of visitors and tourists for snacks, gifts and luxury products.

The author, Roger Clarke, is a well-respected local historian, tour guide and writer who makes a huge contribution to Saltaire through his knowledge of its past and his enthusiasm for its present.  All proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to Saltaire United Reformed Church.

Monday, 14 November 2011

A peal appeal

The November edition of Saltaire's village magazine, Saltaire Sentinel, carries an appeal for new bell-ringers to join the team at the historic Saltaire United Reformed Church.  Ringing practice is on Monday evenings at 7pm and those interested are invited to come to the tower on a practice night to see what the role involves.

Saltaire's Congregational Church (now the URC) was opened in 1859 but it was not until 1870 that bells were hung in the tower, in accordance with Sir Titus Salt's original intentions.  Made in Birmingham at a cost of £300, there were six bells, hung so as to enable traditional English Change Ringing.  (The world of bell-ringing is wonderfully historic and full of arcane terminology.  I tried it myself when I was at university, just out of interest.  I had a great uncle who was a bell-ringer at Newark Parish Church so maybe it's in my blood.)  Bells are very rare in non-conformist churches but they were happily accepted by Saltaire's residents.

It is believed that the original bells were rung for the last time in 1918, for the signing of the Armistice at the end of the 1st World War.  By then they had realised that the tower was not strong enough to support the stress involved in ringing.  The bells were later scrapped, for a value of £85.

Jonathan Silver, the entrepreneur who rescued Saltaire in the 1980s, sadly died in 1997.  His widow, Maggie, chose to provide a new set of bells for the church as a memorial to Jonathan.  The tower was strengthened and bells cast in Holland, this time costing £30,000, were installed in 2003.  They were rung for the first time in September 2003 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Sir Titus Salt's birth and the 150th anniversary of the opening of Salts Mill.  Again the village has almost universally welcomed them (though wooden baffles were added in the tower to make life easier for the residents of Albert Terrace whose homes directly face the church).  I love to hear them ringing to call people to church on Sunday mornings and for weddings and special occasions.

(Information largely gathered from Saltaire URC's own guide book.)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sepia Saturday tribute

For several years I have been delighting in the writings of Alan Burnett, another Yorkshire blogger, whose primary blog is 'News from Nowhere'.  I know I'm not the only one who thoroughly enjoys the eclectic, thought-provoking and amusing fare on offer there.  He also hosts 'Sepia Saturday' together with Kat Mortenson ('Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes') - which provides an opportunity for bloggers to share their history through photographs.  I've much enjoyed reading the offerings but have never joined in.  Actually I don't have that many old photos and need to wait for retirement (ha!) to find time to scan those I do have.  However, as this weekend is the 100th Sepia Saturday and therefore something of a milestone worth celebrating, I have dug deep ....

Since grandparenting is ever on my mind these days, I am sharing this photo.  Dated February 1953, it was taken at the wedding of my maternal grandfather. (His smart three-piece suit and her real fur coat perhaps demonstrate that this was a very special occasion.)  Grandad's first wife, my mother's mother, sadly died in her early 50s, before I was born.  Some time later he married again, to his first wife's sister, my great aunt Alice.  The child in the photo is.... me!  (At just eight months old I was probably as chubby as I've ever been!)  So Grandad and Aunt Alice were my much-loved grandparents.  I have to say that Aunt Alice loved me as much, I am sure, as my 'real' grandmother would have done.  I remember happy times spent with them, pottering around their little terraced house or playing outside in their back garden.  Grandad had been a miner and suffered terribly from asthma and emphysema, so he couldn't run around much but nevertheless they found ways of amusing me as a child.  Aunt Alice had a pretty musical box, like a Swiss chalet, that played 'La Vie en Rose' when the roof was lifted - such a delight to be allowed to play with it.  I have so many good memories (of both sets of grandparents in fact) and count myself very blessed to have had the security of their love and attention.  Grandparent-grandchild is a special relationship.  I only hope I can be the same source of blessing to my new granddaughter, as I'm sure she will be to me.