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Thursday, 31 December 2015


More festive decorations in Saltaire. I wonder if the neighbours make an effort to co-ordinate?

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Snow Queen

After all the flooding excitement, I will finish off posting the last of the Christmas photos.

The Snow Queen is the subject of an exquisite window in William Henry Street, one of those unveiled in Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar for 2015. It was hard to decide if this looked better by day or night. I decided to use the daytime view for a change, as you can see the detail of the dancing snowflakes at the bottom better in this one. In fact it is rare that a window looks equally good illuminated and unlit. Its creators, Kristina and Jed, have done a wonderful job here and this is definitely one of my favourites this year. The windows are on show until Twelfth Night, 5th January, so if you're in the vicinity and fancy a look it's not too late. The Trail leaflet is downloadable from the website.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Après le deluge

Three days after the floods, the waters are receding, leaving just mud and debris behind.

You can see how high the water level reached, from the tideline of twigs and dirt left on the slopes. The compressed gravel path beside the weir was completely swept away.

The Boathouse left high, if not dry, ready for the mopping out to begin. Unfortunately another storm is blowing in, promising more heavy rain, so any clear up may be a bit premature.

The Salts Sports Club has been badly affected. These were the tennis courts and below, the main drive.

The once pristine bowling green is a swamp of mud.

These houses narrowly avoided inundation; you can see the line of debris showing where the high-water mark came to.

Others were not so lucky. The mill flats beside Hirst Weir (see here) were flooded.

The Bradford and Bingley Rugby Club is no stranger to flooding, as it occupies the designated flood plain, but this flood came up much higher than usual and inundated the clubhouse.

Opposite the Rugby Club, Beckfoot School has lost a sports pitch and gained a boating lake!  I used to live in a bungalow in the row of dwellings that you can see in the photo. I'm glad I moved! They were flooded.

Water, water, everywhere.

Saltaire has a new lake! This area is designed as a flood plain alongside the river, which normally flows between the trees on the left. It is used, I think, as a cricket pitch and you can just see the pavilion roof above the water. Normally those houses on the right are well above the river but they were beginning to flood and the residents were having to evacuate.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Baildon Bridge

At least the rabbit is prepared!

More flood pictures! It all has a compelling fascination - at once heartbreaking (when you see the flooded houses, businesses, damaged roads and bridges) and scary but also awesome to comprehend the power of the water and the scale of the floods. There were many people out with their phones. I didn't take my camera as it was so very wet.

This is Baildon Bridge over the River Aire just downstream from Saltaire. I was standing on a traffic island in the middle of the road.

The water was right up to the top of the arches...  river on the right, road on the left!

Green Lane, Baildon - not so green now!  Baildon Bridge (previous pics) passes across the photo between the buildings at the bottom of the road.

A family had to be rescued from the upper floor of one of these houses. In the background you can see the Victoria Mills apartment complex. That was inundated, though I think the lowest floors are mainly car-parking and service areas rather than residences. The picture below is in the centre of the VM complex and is a bar, the VM Lounge, flooded almost to the ceiling. The greenery is the tops of trees on the outdoor terrace.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Boxing Day floods, Saltaire

There has been an unbelievable amount of rain since lunchtime on Christmas Day. River levels all over the north of England are surpassing their previous highest recorded levels. This is Roberts Park, Saltaire yesterday afternoon. The River Aire now reaches right across the cricket pitch and has flooded the Half Moon Café. (This is what it normally looks like.) I have never ever seen it anything like as bad as this.

The Boathouse Restaurant could now take in a boat again, just as in the old days!

The weir by the New Mill has disappeared apart from a wave. (It normally looks like this.)

The litter bins are submerged and in danger of being swept away. This is the path that goes under the footbridge.

Thankfully I got safely to my daughter's and back on Christmas Day so I had my Christmas dinner! (And delicious it was too, local farm turkey cooked to perfection in the Aga, well done my girl!)  It was a nasty drive back though, in driving rain and through lots of standing water on the roads. She lives above Hebden Bridge, which is now completely cut off by road and rail and the town centre is badly flooded. Thankfully, they had the field drains dug out above their house, so they have not (yet!) had a repeat of the flood in their home, though their neighbours were flooded again.

The photos below were taken today (Sunday) at around 12 noon, about 24 hours later than those above. The water levels have dropped significantly, the rain has stopped and the sun came out so everything seems rather more cheerful - but there will be a lot of clearing up to do in communities all across the area.

My daughter tells me parts of the narrow lane to their house have been washed away down the hillside so they and their neighbours (about six houses) are marooned and cannot get vehicles out. They are currently involved in a community effort to patch it up so they can get out. But then, the road at the end of the lane has a landslide above and a massive flood at the bottom. Their town is still cut off, impassable by road or rail. Much clearing up yet to be done...  The water is causing huge problems as it moves further down the rivers too. The city centre of Leeds has been badly flooded and York is on high alert. Let us hope the rain stays away now to give us all a chance to regroup.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


Another prettily dressed window, not part of the official Saltaire Living Advent Calendar, but nonetheless worthy of a photo, I thought.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Peace on earth, goodwill to all

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas. Peace on Earth would be wonderful, wouldn't it? Alas, it seems as far off as it has ever been. At least let us have goodwill to all, over this festive season.

The carol singing trio grace the window of Saltaire's Methodist Church, one of the local community buildings joining in the Living Advent Calendar.

My good wishes to all you readers of this blog: those I know and those I don't, those who celebrate Christmas and those who don't. May you have joy and peace in your heart today.

Hark, the herald angels sing... Glory to the new-born King.

Thursday, 24 December 2015


This made me smile... spotted in the window of our lovely local Pay As You Feel café, the Saltaire Canteen. Potatoes and parsnips with googly eyes may be a tongue-in-cheek 'take' on the traditional Christmas nativity but nevertheless perhaps they get the message across... The good news of the birth of Christ that we celebrate at Christmas lies at the heart of the work of so many of our community initiatives like the Saltaire Canteen. Christ's followers may well be a bit earth-bound and rough round the edges but it's amazing what love, compassion for others and a bit of hard work can achieve.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Pensive penguin

Another attractive and vibrant window unveiled at number 13 of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar. This is one of my personal favourites. It's in the window of one of the larger houses on Albert Road; the double panes provide both an opportunity and a challenge. Katy and Rick have created a masterpiece. I like it because it makes me think, as well as being a wonderful visual treat. Is the penguin looking at the Nativity star? Is the beautiful sky the Aurora?  It would have to be the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) seeing as we don't have penguins up north!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


There are Mogwai Gremlins in window number 5 of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar. Cute or spooky, depending on your taste. I think I'd rather not have one of them leaping out from behind my Christmas tree, but it's a creative idea.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas tree

The Christmas tree in the centre of Saltaire glows with multi-coloured lights this year. I think it's a majestic setting, on the lawn outside the Victoria Hall. It has to compete with the bright floodlights behind that rather detract from the fairy lights, an effect especially noticeable on photos. It's nevertheless a cheering sight on a dark winter night (admittedly not very cold yet). I'm always glad Christmas falls during our winter, giving us all something to celebrate at what would otherwise be for me a very depressing time.  That's not to say I wouldn't like to try a barbie on an Australian beach one year, just for a change!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Little dears

Window number 8 of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar has two delightfully happy children (perhaps residents of the house?) riding on a reindeer that bears more than a passing resemblance to the alpaca statue in Roberts Park. Clever... Alpacas are one of the village's emblems. Sir Titus Salt made his fortune when he worked out how to turn alpaca wool into lustrous cloth.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Mill view window

Living Advent Calendar window number 12 - a view of Salts Mill and its huge chimney. The creator is the artist David Starley, whose windows are always beautiful and done with such care. There is a note on Facebook this year about how he made this one: "The window started out as a photo and a sketch, which were then painted with oils on a canvas. The painting was photographed and printed onto 24 acetate sheets using a home printer. (There was a big colour shift in trying to get a strong dense image.) The sheets were taped onto some perspex cut to fit the size of the window. A white sheet pinned behind makes a big difference to the evenness of the final lighting."  That gives you some idea of the thought and preparation that goes into these windows. Congratulations and thanks to all those who make the effort; they bring pleasure to many, many people. It's a tradition of which the village is proud.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Living Advent Calendar 2015

It's been a tradition in Saltaire since 2006 to dress the village as a 'Living Advent Calendar'. Each year residents and businesses in the village decorate windows with suitable themes and one window is 'opened' every day from 1st December until Christmas Eve. It draws visitors to Saltaire and it's fun to follow the trail through the village. We have a Facebook page too, for those who can't manage to visit: click here.

It's been my tradition since 2009 (gosh! that long?...) to show a few of the windows I like best on this blog so you can all join in the fun.  The Advent windows have got more ambitious over the years. Some of them look great in photos and others look much better for real and in close up. Hopefully my photography has got better too.  Here's the first one, window number 10, on Whitlam Street - not too fussy but exquisite and very effective, I think.

Thursday, 17 December 2015


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that they had strung lights through the holly bushes at the bottom of Victoria Road in Saltaire. Ever since, I've been meaning to go back down there one night but the weather has been so wet and windy that I didn't want to take my camera out. One evening earlier this week the rain abated to a mere drizzle, so I ventured out. The sky was an eerie brown, the sodium street lights of the surrounding city combining with a low mist to create a very odd effect. Much to my surprise, the fairy lights are coloured when lit. The bulbs appear plain white in daylight. They add a little Christmas cheer to the scene at that end of the village. The block of Salts Mill immediately behind is the Information Centre, and was originally Sir Titus Salt's private rooms. I can imagine him standing at the window looking out at the marvellous electric lights... I wonder what he'd have thought of them?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Mill / shop

The bike shop within Salts Mill.... or Salts Mill within the bike shop.

All Terrain Cycles is one of several shops locally selling bicycles and cycling accessories. It is reputed to be one of the largest and best-stocked cycling shops in the country, with over 1000 bikes in stock, and a fitting centre and repair workshop too. It is housed in what used to be Salts Mill's boiler house. Aim for the huge chimney and you will find it tucked away at the base.

There is a strong local tradition of cycling, despite the hilly countryside around here. Lizzie Armitstead, the current World, Commonwealth and National road race champion was born and raised in the nearby town of Otley, where she was inspired to take up cycling after British Cycling's Olympic Talent Team visited her school. The Grand Départ of the Tour de France was a huge success in Yorkshire in 2014 and the county now has an annual Tour de Yorkshire.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Golden temple

There are a few bright golden leaves stubbornly clinging to a small tree on the drive to Saltaire's church. When the sun catches them it makes a pretty scene, echoing the soft honey colour of the church's stonework. I was playing around with texture and slightly enhanced colour. (I've taken this view so many times, I have to try different things now.) You've heard of the Golden Temple at Amritsar?  Well, we have our own Golden Temple right here in Saltaire!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Black and white in colour

I needed my sunglasses, walking up Victoria Road in Saltaire the other day. The sun was so bright and shining on the wet road it was dazzling. It made for an atmospheric scene. Though my iPhone couldn't quite cope with the brightness in the sky it still did justice to what I saw. It's a colour photo but the high contrast leached out nearly all the colour.

Life is busy, weather is awful and I won't be posting as regularly in the run up to Christmas but I have not disappeared!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Close Encounters at the Industrial Museum 6

The larger of these two vehicles is a model of one of the tramcars that used to run between Saltaire and Undercliffe.  See here for old photos of a similar tram. The first tramshed was built around 1900 on the site of what is now a carpark behind the Victoria Hall. A little later a larger building was constructed at the top of Saltaire Road. It is still standing and still recognisable as a tramshed - the huge arched doors are now glassed in. These days it is a pub/restaurant called The Hop.

The 237 tram was built in Shipley in 1904. The model shows it as it was in 1912, after the top deck had been extended and covered to accommodate 38 passengers. It was used on various routes but it was limited because it was too tall to pass under a railway bridge in Eccleshill. Trams were phased out in favour of trolleybuses, which had overhead wires but no rails and the last trolleybus ran in Bradford in 1972. I remember it!  It's interesting that nowadays many cities are once again investing in tram systems as a cleaner, faster solution to public transport.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Close Encounters at the Industrial Museum 5

It was the colour of this vintage car that attracted me, such a glorious acid yellow. They don't seem to make many brightly coloured cars these days - white or silver seem the favoured shades round here, or black of course. 'You can have any colour as long as it's black'!  Jowett was a small manufacturer of cars and light commercial vehicles, based in Bradford, from 1906 to 1954. The Industrial Museum has several examples. They started by making cycles and motorbikes but then began producing innovative 'light' cars that were suitable for the very hilly terrain around this area.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Close Encounters at the Industrial Museum 4

Cogs and belts... I wonder if anyone has ever counted how many wheels there are in the museum? There must be hundreds on all the various machines. What a great invention the cog wheel is, with all those interlocking teeth that transfer the drive power.  Many of the machines in the museum are protected by sheets of perspex - to prevent people poking their fingers in, I suppose. It is rather annoying if you want a clear photo but I actually quite like the muted 'underwater' effect that it gives.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Close Encounters at the Industrial Museum 3

I wonder if any of these wonderful wicker baskets have survived (apart from in the museum)? They'd make a great addition to a stylish modern home. A laundry basket or a toybox, maybe? It would perhaps be worth looking in the local architectural salvage yards, though I imagine they'd cost a fair bit. Of course what really made this picture for me were those vibrant red and green spools of yarn in the background.

Monday, 7 December 2015

A little extra excitement...

Northern England had very heavy rain over the past weekend, 13.4 inches (341.4mm) in 24 hours. Many areas to the west of here, Carlisle and the Lake District in Cumbria in particular, have suffered appalling flooding and destruction, despite millions of £s being spent on flood defences in recent years. In fact two of the largest Lakes (Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite) actually became one, leaving much of the town of Keswick, which sits in between, under several feet of water. However, there has been a lighter side... You remember my picture of Malham Cove I posted a few weeks ago..? Well, for the first time in living memory it became a waterfall on Sunday. Normally the water disappears underground through limestone tunnels and caverns and comes out in a stream at the bottom of the rock but there was so much rain that the water overflowed over the top.  Click here to see some amazing photos and video.

Close Encounters at the Industrial Museum 2

Our wool manufacturing history spawned a whole vocabulary that has now died out again, kept alive only in books and on retrieved signage from the mills.... Doffing, driving pegs, pot eye, wharles, laps.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Close Encounters at the Industrial Museum 1

A long time ago I did a series of posts on the history of wool worsted manufacture, illustrated by photos I took at the Industrial Museum. (See 'About Saltaire' above, for details.) The museum continues to hold a fascination for me, as it so poignantly tells the story of the Industrial Revolution that shaped this area of West Yorkshire and the Pennines. Since the weather lately has been so dire and I have not been out taking photos, I thought I'd have another trip there and see what caught my eye this time. I was mostly captivated by close-ups of machinery. I liked the shape of the bobbins here (like old fashioned milk bottles) and that slash of orange in the background.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

A grand gesture

Another photographic variation on the theme of Saltaire's New Mill chimney, such a splendid Italianate gesture. It was one of the last parts of the township to be constructed, the New Mill being built in 1868 as an extra spinning mill to increase the manufacturing capacity. It seems almost to be Sir Titus Salt's 'proud moment', finishing off his mills and his village with a flourish.

I'm rather pleased with the split-tone effect on this image. It seems to suit the subject.

Friday, 4 December 2015


At this time of year the light is ever-changing and can sometimes be lovely when the low sun illuminates familiar scenes and highlights them in a new way. I liked the way the light caught the trees along the canal, turning the few remaining leaves to gold. There were pretty dappled reflections on the wall of Salts Mill too.

I think, on balance, the crop above is the more 'professional' but I had a lot of indecision about it. The wider view below has a different feel but I also like it.