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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.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Autumn reflections

At the far edge of Hirst Woods, just outside Saltaire, there is a point where the River Aire curves round and passes underneath the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which flows over the Dowley Gap Aqueduct.  I took this photo not far from there, enjoying the way the bright patches of autumn colour were reflected in the river.  I had a bit of a muddy scramble down the bank to get it!

It's my entry this week into Weekend Reflections, hosted here.  Please follow the link to discover the other entries this week.  There are always some amazing interpretations of the Reflections theme.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Tree hugs

"The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

A majestic old beech tree in Hirst Woods glows softly in the afternoon sunshine...  I love these woods in the spring, when the green leaves are fresh and hazy and there are swathes of bluebells, but I love it too in the autumn.  The sunlight slants gold through the canopy and underfoot the dry leaves and beech mast crunch with every step.  It thrills me to live within a fifteen minute walk of this patch of ancient woodland, so familiar and yet always new.  I can lose myself walking there, lose my petty preoccupations and concerns.  The power of trees to soothe and uplift is awesome.  Just like being hugged!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Corner kick

Because there are playing fields between the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in Saltaire, a walk along the towpath can be enlivened - depending on whether it's summer or winter - by watching a game of cricket or football (soccer).  On Sunday it was the turn of the footballers and Salts FC (in the yellow and blue strip) were playing Elland Sports in the County Cup.  Although, at the time I was passing, the away team often seemed to have the upper hand, in fact the overall result was a 2-1 victory for the home side. Hooray!  On the other pitch behind the adults, Shipley Juniors were also having a lively game.

Salts FC has a long history, from the 1920s when Salts (Saltaire) Ltd bought back land from Shipley Council and developed the playing fields, with sections for tennis, crown green bowls, cricket and football, all of which still prosper.  Salts (Saltaire) Cricket Club is distinct from the older Saltaire Cricket Club that plays in Roberts Park.  A clubhouse built in 1937 still survives and provides a focal point for social activities.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Saltaire Farmers' Market

For several years now, Saltaire has had a Farmers' Market on the Caroline Street car park.  It's held on the third Saturday every month and sells a range of local and home made produce - seasonal organic fruit and vegetables, meat and sausages, cheeses, pickles, bread, eggs, honey, jams and preserves, flowers and herbs. Sadly the size of the market has steadily diminished and I believe its future is under review by the local Council who organise it.

It's such a great idea but I personally harbour a lot of guilt that I don't actually use it much - even though I believe it is A Good Thing.  Why don't I?  Well, for a start I can never remember which Saturday it's open and by the time I'm up and out on a Saturday, they tend to be packing up! From that point of view I'm sure it would do better if it were a weekly market.  For another thing, it's not especially cheap... sure, you get what you pay for in terms of quality but I do have to watch my budget.  Thirdly there's only me, so I don't have a large weekly shop and some of the stuff it sells I hardly ever eat (meat, bread [ie: wheat], preserves, pickles).  There is a regular (ordinary) market not far away in Shipley and a big supermarket too, so convenient.  I tend to shop on a Friday night to leave the weekend free and like to plan my menus, rather than just going along to 'see what they have this week'. I know, I ought to make the effort.  Despite my non-patronage, I do hope the Farmers' Market continues and grows stronger.  Ventures like that 'fit' with Saltaire somehow and ought to be a good thing for the village as a whole.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Saltaire Connected

Had a really interesting evening at the Caroline Street Social Club last Tuesday at the 'Saltaire Connected' event.  Organised by the Saltaire Village Society, it was an opportunity for those involved with groups and events in and around Saltaire to get together and share information.   Each group had a few minutes to say a little about their work and interests and then there was plenty of time to circulate, chat, gather information and make contacts.  It's amazing how much is going on in this small area - and wonderful to see the range of interests people have and how passionate and committed people are, both to their particular activity and to the village as a community.  Most encouraging.

I was fortunate to be able to take this photo of Mrs Ellin Dooley having a friendly chat with an alpaca.  Mrs Dooley is one of the costumed guides who takes tour groups around Saltaire on 'Salts Walks'.  A down-to-earth character with a large family and a generous nature, she always has lots of gossip to share. She is played by Maria Glot, who lives in Saltaire and has been involved in tourism for many years. Maria's fund of facts, myths and entertaining anecdotes really brings Saltaire's history to life (if not always completely accurately!)

Friday, 4 November 2011


Well dear friends, you only have yourselves to blame for this!  You asked to see some of the ensembles I wore for the recent Vintage Fashion Show, so here they are:  a silky top embellished with beads and embroidery (Next) and a very beautiful lace dress and jacket (Florentyna Dawn) which made me look decidedly 'mother of the bride'.  I also wore a pale pink chiffon evening dress, a brown suedette trouser suit and a slinky bias-cut silk dress.  It was actually all more fun than I imagined.  No-one took it too seriously and I didn't feel as self-conscious as I expected, walking down the red carpet.  Maybe I could get used to that kind of attention!

The event, as I said before, was to raise funds for a local Christian charity, the Zephaniah Trust, that does good work with children and young people in schools and youth clubs.  I am pleased to say that over £1,400.00 was raised - a good evening's work.  Congratulations to all those involved and special thanks to Julie at Zeph Trust and Heidi, our own church youth worker, who both worked extremely hard for weeks to organise the event.

(Photos taken by Steve Rayner and used with permission.)

Thursday, 3 November 2011



Since I became grandmother to a baby granddaughter it seems like I've started seeing pink everywhere!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

How should we remember?

Related to my musings the other week on the subject of great men, there have been several calls for some kind of memorial to Jonathan Silver, the entrepreneur whose vision in the 1980s was the saving of Salts Mill and Saltaire.  It's an interesting debate, isn't it, whether people should be remembered in a statue or simply by the legacy of their activities.  Sir Titus Salt has both - Saltaire itself and (several) statues and busts dotted around the place.  Some were unveiled whilst he was still alive, others posthumously.

The statue above stands in the High Street in Skipton.  Erected in 1888, it shows Sir Mathew Wilson (1802-1891), 1st baronet of Eshton Hall Gargrave, a local landowner, Liberal politician and the longest-serving magistrate in Skipton's history.  He became a JP at 22 and served until he was 88.  Apparently there was some controversy over the statue, which was paid for by his friends.  It was applauded by the local Liberal-leaning newspaper as 'a work of art fit to grace any street in the land' but derided by the rival paper who declared it 'a passable likeness of the old gentleman, who seems to be perched atop a gravestone'.  Despite the rancour, Sir Mathew himself attended the unveiling.

I think I would prefer to be remembered for the library in the background, built with money donated by the Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.  It was opened in 1910 by Sir Mathew Amcotts Wilson (4th baronet).

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Holy Trinity Church, Skipton

Skipton's Holy Trinity Church stands in a prime position at the top of the High Street, just in front of the castle.  A church has stood on the site since the 1100s but the present church has been altered and repaired many times over the years.  It still moves with the times.  I had a very tasty lunch in the Refectory - homemade butternut squash and red pepper soup.  I have learned that where a local church serves meals or snacks it is well worth trying - usually very reasonably priced, excellent quality and served by friendly folk - with the bonus that their profits usually go to support the church or to charity.