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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Come and join the celebration!

Saltaire put a bit of bunting out to celebrate the wedding of HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton on Friday.  It was all rather low-key locally ... a lot of us Brits are fairly reserved about that kind of thing and, as far as I know, there were no street parties in the immediate area.  I sense that there has been as much excitement in Australia, Canada and even in the States.  I know of some American ladies who travelled to London, not to attend the wedding on the processional route but to watch it on our TV channels!  I love a big occasion though, and watched the whole thing on BBC TV with some friends - pink lemonade and all. (Pre-lunch seemed a bit too early for champagne!)  I thought it was all really brilliant.  I enjoy the ceremonial: the guards and the horses, the bands and the carriages, all the colour and ceremony.  I like the sense of history unfolding and the layers of symbolism, the links with the past but also in this wedding a real sense of optimism for the future. William and Kate both looked stunning and the marriage service in Westminster Abbey was beautiful. (I was particularly moved by Kate's brother James's masterly reading from St Paul's Letter to the Romans.)  They seem a lovely young couple and I do sincerely hope theirs will be a long and deeply happy marriage.  May God bless them both.

Pictures from BBC TV

PS: Possibly the cutest and most amusing of the photos I've seen of the wedding is this one.

Friday, 29 April 2011

I ♥ Saltaire

Part of Salts Mill, reflected in the window of the Saltaire Dining Room opposite.  The Dining Room now belongs to Shipley College.  I think the heart-themed window display is the work of their design students.  (It seemed an appropriate motif to acknowledge Royal Wedding Day here).  For more information about the original use of the Dining Room, please see this earlier post.

This is my entry for Weekend Reflections, hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo. Please click here to see more reflection-themed photos from around the world.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Take two...

They used to say 'the photograph never lies' but we know now that, even from photography's earliest days (the Cottingley Fairies hoax), what we see is not always the truth.  With programmes like Photoshop, even fairly unskilled amateurs can erase details, add in extras, change colours and effect all sorts of amendments to alter what was originally there in a scene.  I do it myself sometimes, cloning out a bit of litter or an intrusive telephone wire, but even when I don't alter a photo in processing, my pictures don't always tell the whole truth.  Yesterday's picture versus today's demonstrate that quite easily.

This wide-angle view again shows the old cottages at Jane Hills, which look so olde-worlde and charming in close-up.  The reality is that they are now dwarfed and hemmed in by surrounding commercial premises and have a building site on their front steps, where they are building a very modern orthodontics factory.  Disappointing, isn't it?  It's a sad fate for what once was an isolated, rural hamlet on the canal bank.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Jane Hills

I'm always learning something new as I look out for interesting subjects for this blog. I've passed these cottages daily for several years, as they're very close to where I work.  They are right on the canalside (I was standing on the towpath to take this photo) but I hadn't known until I visited the exhibition on the Kennet (see yesterday) that at one time some of these properties were lived in by boatmen who worked on the canal.  The working boats' trips were short enough that the boatmen didn't need to live permanently on board, so they and their families tended to live beside the canal, many of them in places like Burscough in Lancashire.

The three oldest cottages here date back to 1796 and were originally two homes with a textile workshop attached.  Wool would have been loaded in directly from the canalside through a door on the gable-end, now blocked up.  Other buildings were added in the mid-19th century.  Before Saltaire was built the buildings would have been quite isolated in a rural setting.  Salts Mill is about a quarter of a mile up the canal.

One of the cottages is currently for sale but the estate agent's details don't tell you how old and historic the property is (it is Grade II listed) ...  and nor does it mention some other important details about the site....

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Boatmen on the Kennet


The theme of the World Heritage Day celebrations this year was 'Water', so there was a particular focus on Saltaire's waterfront.  There were some very interesting talks and displays about the canal and the river and the part they have played in Saltaire's development.  One of the reasons Titus Salt chose this location for his mill was the proximity to water power from the river and transport links on the canal and railway.  The canal was opened in 1777 and the railway in 1847, so both predate the mill which was opened in 1853.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society's boat, the Kennet, was moored in Saltaire over the weekend with an exhibition inside about local waterways.  Built in 1947, the boat is one of the last unconverted boats to have worked on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and, typically, is a wide-bodied barge and not a narrowboat.  Boats carried all manner of cargo including alpaca wool from the Liverpool docks to Saltaire.  The early examples were towed by horses. (See also my post here).

Monday, 25 April 2011

Saltaire beach

What a difference from a few months ago - this area was flooded during the winter (see my earlier post). Now the River Aire has resumed its usual proportions, leaving an area of  - well, earth... not exactly sand. But it may as well have been a beach, as there were children paddling and digging just as though they were at the seaside.  It's great to see Roberts Park in Saltaire, refurbished last year, being so well-used on a lovely, sunny, spring day.  There's something for everyone - cricket to watch, a huge area of grass for games and picnics, music in the bandstand and refreshments from the Half-Moon Café.  It really feels to be back to its Victorian hey-day and that's good to see.  Maybe they should go the whole way and bring in a load of real sand for the summer!

Incidentally, if you're interested in seeing more of Yorkshire's beauty, I have recently posted a number of photos of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal on my other blog, Seeking the Quiet Eye.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Day

Christ is risen!..... He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Wishing you all a very happy Easter, full of sunshine - within and without.

'Fan into flame the gift of God that is in you... for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, 
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.'  2 Timothy 6-7

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Stone carving

This craftsman is a member of The West Riding Stone Carving Association.  They were giving demonstrations of their craft in Roberts Park as part of Saltaire's World Heritage celebrations. The Stone Carving Association, based in Halifax, was founded in 2009 by a group of individuals who shared a common interest and wanted to promote their craft to the wider community.  As well as demonstrating their skills at events like the one in Saltaire, they provide workshop facilities, support and training so that these vital traditional skills continue to flourish.  The craftsman shown was carving a crest of thistles - and below are other examples of their work!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Springtime melodies

The band weren't actually playing 'Younger than Springtime' but they might as well have been ... or maybe 'Younger IN Springtime' would have been a more appropriate title.  Crowds of people of all generations gathered around the bandstand in Saltaire's Roberts Park to listen to the Hall Royd Band giving the first concert of the 2011 season.  The bandstand (new last year to replace the original Victorian one that had long since disappeared) looked picture-perfect encircled by blossom trees, its dome sparkling in the sunshine.  I definitely think that a good brass band playing in the bandstand is my favourite; the sound was terrific.  I've heard smaller ensembles and different types of music but somehow the sound of brass works best.  The audience, including the four silver-haired ladies on the bench, were clearly enjoying the entertainment and the wonderful weather.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Alpaca Parade

(Click on picture to enlarge it)
Well, I wondered how long it would be before Saltaire adopted the idea of painted creatures. Skipton, as reported on my blog some while ago, had their sheep. Now Saltaire has alpacas - and not only painted ones; we had real ones too. I adore them - such lovely woolly things and they have gentle, pretty faces.  I think they can be a bit vicious and spit if not well-handled but these three seemed quite docile and contented. ( I'm afraid I didn't take proper notice of the farm they came from, sorry!)

They were all gathered for an 'Alpaca Parade' on Monday to celebrate World Heritage Day.  Without alpacas, Saltaire probably wouldn't exist. It's a well-known story that Titus Salt, on a business trip to Liverpool one day in 1836, was intrigued by a some bales of wool from Peru, gathering dust in a warehouse. He took a sample of the 'useless' material, that no-one else wanted, back to Bradford and set about working out how it could be washed, combed and spun.  He and his team discovered that, by combining alpaca weft with a cotton or silk warp, a durable, light, lustrous cloth could be produced at reasonable cost, eminently suitable for the fashions of the day.  From that innovation, it's fair to say, Titus Salt made his fortune.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Saltaire, World Heritage Site

Saltaire definitely pulled out all the stops to celebrate World Heritage Day over the weekend of 15 -18 April - and the wonderful spring sunshine helped enormously, bringing visitors in large numbers.  It's ten years since Saltaire was granted World Heritage Status by UNESCO.  The criteria by which it received the accolade are:
Criterion (ii): Saltaire is an outstanding and well preserved example of a mid 19th century industrial town, the concept of which was to exert a major influence on the development of the "garden city" movement.
Criterion (iv): The layout and architecture of Saltaire admirably reflect mid 19th century philanthropic paternalism, as well as the important role played by the textile industry in economic and social development.

For more information please have a look at the UNESCO World Heritage website.

Regular visitors will recognise the lovely Italianate tower of the New Mill (opened in 1868, so not that new now!) and the covered footbridge over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which links the newer building with the earlier Salts Mill.  (I think some of you know this place now like the back of your own hand - even if you've never visited for real!)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Surprise View

The aptly named 'Surprise View' - a lovely vista of the ruined Fountains Abbey, with the River Skell in the foreground that forms part of the Studley Royal water garden.  There is a high-level path through the woods around the estate, which leads to a Gothic pavilion called Anne Boleyn's Seat (though she never sat there, for sure!).  Coming out of the trees, the sudden view along the valley takes you completely by surprise and is as impressive and beautiful as it must have been when it was first conceived more than 200 years ago.

I will be posting some more photos of Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal estate on my other blog, Seeking the Quiet Eye, starting here (three posts in all).

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Temple of Piety, Studley Royal

Celebrating International World Heritage Day today...  Part of the formal gardens of Studley Royal, which together with Fountains Abbey form another beautiful World Heritage Site in the heart of Yorkshire. 

The gardens were laid out in the early 18th century (Georgian) in the Studley Royal estate by John Aislabie, MP for Ripon, who had inherited the land in 1699 through his mother's family.  The 1720 'South Sea Bubble' financial disaster ruined his career and (after a period of imprisonment in the Tower of London) he retired to Yorkshire to devote himself to his garden. After his death in 1742, his son William further developed the estate by buying the adjacent ruins of Fountains Abbey and incorporating them into the design.  Thus, one end of the gardens is a very formal French-inspired water garden and the other a much more romantic and wild landscape.  Subsequent owners (luckily) neglected to overwrite the earlier designs and so the originally conceived ideas largely still survive.  There are several buildings, like the Temple of Piety, solely intended to form focal points in the design and to highlight particular views across the valley.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Cellarium, Fountains Abbey

This is probably one the most famous images of Fountains Abbey and one of the most stunning parts of the ruins.  This long span of vaulting, incredibly, survived intact when the Abbey was dissolved and began to be plundered for its stone. It formed the roof of the Cellarium, the area where the monks ate, slept and socialised - though, when the monastery was in use, the area would have been partitioned and not the long, open space we see today.

The monastery was founded in 1132 and, soon after, was admitted to the Cistercian order, an austere and devout order that originated in France.  A large lay brotherhood, working alongside the monks, cared for the buildings and farmed sheep and soon the Abbey was wealthy and influential.  It seems, however, that the enterprise grew too large for its monastic roots and economic collapse in the 14th century saw the monastery decline and some of its lands sold off.  A brief period of revival was cut short in 1539 by King Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries (when he made himself the head of the Church of England and severed ties with the Roman Catholic Church).  In 1540 the estate was sold to Sir Richard Gresham and became the property of a succession of wealthy families, who built Fountains Hall and landscaped the gardens.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fountains Abbey

When I pulled back the curtains last Saturday morning, I decided that to spend the day doing chores as I'd planned was criminally insane.  It was clearly going to be a splendid day - and it was... more like summer than spring. So I grabbed my camera and set off for Fountains Abbey, which is a very famous beauty spot north of Harrogate, about an hour's drive from here.  It also happens to be another World Heritage Site like Saltaire.  And since we are celebrating World Heritage Day on Monday 18th, it seems a good time to show you some of its beauty.

In actual fact the site is 'Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal' - a huge medieval monastery (reduced to ruins by Henry VIII's brutal dissolution of the abbeys in the 16th century) set within the beautiful valley of the River Skell, which was transformed in the 18th century into a stunning water garden and deer park by the Aislabie family who lived at Studley Royal, adjacent to the Abbey.

You could easily write a book about its history and the estate as it is today (and people have done!) so I won't try and cover everything here.  Please have a look at the website for more information and pictures - and enjoy my photos of this lovely spot.

This is my entry for 'Weekend Reflections' hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo - the gathering place for beautiful and creative interpretations of that theme from bloggers far and wide.  Do have a look at this week's other entries - click here.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Blue window reprise

I have posted this on my blog before, in the very early days, but it's one of my favourite photos of Saltaire URC.   The famous Victorian church is much photographed and it's hard to find a new angle on it.  Looking upwards above the entrance door, there is this little blue glass window and you can see some of the detail under the canopy, which has undergone extensive restoration since I took the photo.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


This is (a repost of) the angel in the Salt Family Mausoleum inside Saltaire's beautiful Victorian United Reformed Church. The church was built by Sir Titus Salt as a gift to the people of his mill village of Saltaire.  It was completed in 1859 but the Mausoleum was a later addition, added in 1861.  Sir Titus Salt himself was buried there in 1877 and several other family members are also laid to rest here.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Inside Saltaire's church (2)

This is a photo I've used before on my blog, but it nicely shows more of the inside of Saltaire's famous church.  Being a non-conformist church (originally a Congregational Church and now United Reformed) it doesn't have the separate chancel (the bit where the choir and clergy sit) that an Anglican church would have.  The organ and above that the pulpit, take centre stage, emphasising the importance of preaching and sung worship.  You can also see more clearly on this photo the scagliola columns I talked about yesterday - hollow columns, painted to look like marble.  The blue screening to the left of the picture hides the entrance to the Salt Family Mausoleum where Sir Titus Salt, Saltaire's founder and several members of his family are interred.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Inside Saltaire's church

The inside of Saltaire's famous Grade I listed United Reformed Church (formerly known as the Congregational Church) is as ornate as the outside - perhaps unusually so for a non-conformist church.  I am never sure whether I like or dislike the decorative cut-glass and ormolu chandeliers, originally lit by gas. They are so heavy that the roof had to be especially strengthened.  It is a nice light space inside though and the ceiling is most attractive.  The green columns, which you can see in the corners, are hollow and decorated with a paint effect called 'scagliola'.  A little balcony sits over the entrance door and looks up the aisle towards the front, where the organ and pulpit are.   I believe it was intended for the use of members of Sir Titus Salt's family, though as Sir Titus did not live in Saltaire himself, I'm not sure if he regularly worshipped in the church.

For more photos and information, please click the Saltaire URC label below.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Heavenly host

Things are definitely getting a bit more cheerful round here - colour is bursting onto the scene in swathes of daffodils and early blossom, with fresh green buds on the trees.  And then everything seems a bit more bearable, don't you think?

I can never decide which season brings out the best in Saltaire's lovely Victorian church.  In winter, snow can lighten up the stone work, autumn brings wonderful colour to the beech trees around it, summer means lots of visitors and fetes, with all the colour and life that brings.  And in the spring, a host of golden daffodils certainly has impact.... the church becomes the backdrop instead of the main focus.

Talking of visitors and fetes, next weekend April 15-18 sees festivities in Saltaire to mark International World Heritage Day - raising awareness of our history and the efforts needed to protect and preserve our heritage worldwide.  It's the first time this has been marked in Saltaire since the village and mill was granted World Heritage Site status in 2001.  Full information and a programme of events is available on the Saltaire Village Website.  I hope to bring you more news later!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Magnificent magnolia

Magnolia trees are in full bloom in gardens and parks here.  I found this one in the centre of Shipley, just opposite St Paul's Church.  They always amaze me - they look far too exotic for this cold little country and far too exuberant to bloom in early spring.  In fact, many years they get blasted by frost and soon go brown.  The pink camellia also in the photo is a little bit scorched in parts.

Here's a little known fact (well, according to Wikipedia anyway!) - the Magnolia genus is so ancient that it predates the appearance of bees, and evolved to be pollinated by beetles.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Parliament Hill

I have long wanted to visit Parliament Hill, a high point on Hampstead Heath from which you get a view right across London - and here it is.  I made it!  It's called Parliament Hill because during the English Civil War (1642 -1651) it was a defensive stronghold for troops loyal to Parliament (the Roundheads).  The Houses of Parliament are NOT situated on the top of it!

The view is lovely and in the early spring warmth there were masses of people sitting and standing around, looking over the city, as well as plenty of folks flying kites (a traditional pastime up there.)  You can probably make out the cluster of tall office buildings in the City of London - among them 'the Gherkin' - and maybe you can see the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, immediately in front of the very tall building almost in the middle of the horizon. (Click to make the picture bigger).  That huge structure, not yet completed, is known as The Shard and will be the highest building in the EU when it's finished.  There is one of those helpful metal engravings on the Hill, pointing out the visible landmarks - but many of the newest buildings are missing, thus showing how rapidly London is still developing.  Interestingly, the view of St Paul's from Hampstead Heath is one of ten protected views of the Cathedral, meaning that nothing will be allowed to intrude on the sight-line.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Leafy Hampstead

Whilst in London, we had a wander round 'leafy Hampstead' - seeing how the other half lives!  Unless people have owned property there for years, one wonders how anyone could afford to buy there... and then you begin to realise that the gap between rich and poor is in reality nowadays the gap between the super-rich and everyone else.  Maybe I'm getting old, grumpy and disillusioned but I really am left wondering what is going on in our society.

That aside, Hampstead is a pleasant enough area ... assuming you haven't visited Yorkshire, that is.   ;-)   The photo shows a bench (for Malyss's enjoyment!) overlooking one of the ponds on Hampstead Heath.

This will fit into the 'Weekend Reflections' meme that James at Newtown Area Photo so cheerfully hosts - see here for more interpretations on the theme.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

How we are remembered...

Just as Alan (News from Nowhere) collects old postcards and is fascinated by the lives glimpsed through them, so I am fascinated by old graves.  This one, in the graveyard surrounding the old church of St Mary's in Stoke Newington, was almost unreadable but you can just make out "Elizabeth....died on 11 December 1781 aged 15 (?) years in consequence of her cloaths taking fire the preceeding evening."  Her surname is unclear - it could be Baratt.  How sad though.  I suppose long dresses and open fires weren't a good mix.

Near the old church is Abney Park Cemetery, an arboretum, nature reserve and garden cemetery that was opened in 1840 and is the resting place of many famous non-conformists, including several involved with the abolition of the slave trade.  It also holds the graves of William Booth and his wife Catherine, founders of the Salvation Army, their son Branwell and several other notable Salvationists.   The inscription says: William Booth, Founder and 1st General of the Salvation Army, Born 1829, Born again in the Spirit 1845, Founded the Salvation Army 1865, Went to Heaven 29th August 1912.  Also Catherine Booth, the Mother of the Salvation Army, Born 1829, Went to Heaven 4th October 1890.

Do you ever ponder upon what you'd like on your gravestone? (Even though not that many people actually have one any more).  There's a lot of comfort in the thought that God loves us all equally - young Elizabeth who hardly had time to make her mark on life, as much as the Booths whose good works live on, a century and a half later.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Two spires

I just spent a happy weekend visiting my daughter and son-in-law in London.  Unusually we didn't venture into central London this time, contenting ourselves with exploring closer to where they live in north London.  I was impressed by these two church spires in Stoke Newington.  Both church buildings are part of the same church - the old church of St Mary's and the new church.  There has been a site of Christian worship here since at least 1086 and the old church (in the foreground) dates back to 1563 - one of the few remaining Elizabethan churches in the country - though its spire was a later addition.  By the mid-19th century the area was rapidly developing and leaving behind its rural village roots.  The church was too small (the then Rector, Rev Thomas Jackson, was attracting large congregations with his preaching) so a new church was built, designed in neo-Gothic style by George Gilbert Scott (who also designed St Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial) and consecrated in 1858.  Both buildings are now used for worship and community activities.  I wasn't able to go inside but there are interesting photos on the church website.

(Don't you think the 1850s must have been an astonishing time in England? So much development was going on - it was around 1850 that the building of Saltaire's mill and village was started.)

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


I have less time than usual to get out and about taking new photos, but I realised that I could also reprise a few of the earlier posts from my blog.  I used to post photos quite small too, so it will be good to see some at the larger size I now use.  This one shows the famous Bingley Five-Rise Locks from the top of the 'staircase',  looking towards Bingley.  You can see the red-brick shed I had in my photo yesterday (though that was a more recent photo).  Click here to go back to my original post for this picture.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Red brick

I'm afraid my postings are a bit more geographically haphazard than I prefer them to be at the best of times.  As you will recall, these are not quite the best of times.  And I'm sorry I'm not managing to get round to reading and commenting on other blogs very much, as my focus is necessarily elsewhere.  But never mind, that's life, with all its seasons. There will be time again for dallying, one day... 

Talking of seasons, this to me is a very springlike scene.  It only needs a few daffodils strewn over that green bank - I'm surprised no-one has planted any.  It's not in Saltaire, but a bit further up the canal at Bingley - in fact at the foot of the famous Five-Rise Locks.  I am not sure what purpose the little red-brick shed has; perhaps it holds some kind of pumping mechanism related to the locks.  What surprises me most is that the shed is red-brick, which is hardly used at all in this part of Yorkshire.  Nearly everything is stone-built, as are the lock-chambers themselves.  There's plenty of red-brick over in Leeds ten miles away but Pennine Yorkshire is characterised by its stone.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A pillar of Salt

This statue of Saltaire's founder, Sir Titus Salt, first stood in Bradford's Town Hall (now City Hall) Square.  Funded by public subscription and unveiled in 1874 by the Duke of Devonshire, amid lavish celebrations, the marble statue itself was sculpted by John Adams Acton.  It shows Sir Titus Salt seated, holding a scroll of the plans of Saltaire.  The canopy was designed by the architects of Saltaire, Lockwood & Mawson and features Salt's coat of arms, along with symbols representing Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Charity.   In 1896, traffic congestion in central Bradford forced its relocation to Lister Park in Bradford, where it remains today.

It's said that when Sir Titus found out about plans for the statue, he joked: "So they wish to make me into a pillar of salt."   At the unveiling, the Chairman of the committee said: "we are met to do honour to one of Bradford's worthiest citizens......whose modesty of disposition and strength of character are worthy of imitation by the rising business men of the town."

Saturday, 2 April 2011


My colleague - a keen gardener - came back to work after lunch the other day, enthusing about this tree in Shipley's market square.  He was so lavish in his praise that I just had to make a detour on my way home to have a look - and photograph it of course.  He was right in saying that it is absolutely laden with blossom - so much so that it reminds me of one of those sticks of pink candyfloss you can buy at funfairs.  Isn't it glorious to have this exuberance of natural beauty right in the middle of the shopping centre (an urban desert if ever I saw one)?

With the storm clouds overhead, it might be only a matter of days before the blossom is dashed to the ground with wind and rain, but here it is captured, a lovely reminder of how spring-life suddenly bursts forth from winter.  Maybe gardeners would correct me, but it seems a bit counter-intuitive to me that after a long and harsh winter we should have blossom earlier than usual and in such abundance.  Still, I'm enjoying it.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Golden light

The weak spring sunshine, low in the sky late one afternoon, seemed to touch the pussy willow by Saltaire's New Mill with a sprinkling of gold.  (April Fool's Gold perhaps?)

I have played up the effect a bit in Photoshop, thinking the photo lent itself to a bit of 'antiquing'.  I'm trying to teach myself how to use textures and blending modes.  I'm making slow progress but it's fun.  I'm wondering now if I should have cropped this a bit more, to get rid of some of the sky and reflection on the left that is too bright.... but I still quite like the image.