architecture buildings Yorkshire

Saltaire – a unique village – Part Two

So here we are suitably refreshed with part two of my postings about the village of Saltaire. We are carrying on with our wander after a well-earned coffee stop. The staff were so friendly and so cheerful, which seems typical of everyone we met in the village. People enjoyed a chat and offered a smile!

We left our tour of Saltaire previously in Alexandra Square where we found the almhouses.

2014 10 30_6738 2014 10 30_6739

Now we set off in search of the social and community buildings proved by Titus Salt and soon found ourselves studying the impressive building which housed the hospital. Medical care was provided for the Saltaire mill workers way in advance of the idea of the National Health Service. Elsewhere medical care was the province of the rich.

2014 10 30_6740 2014 10 30_6741 2014 10 30_6742 2014 10 30_6743 2014 10 30_6744 2014 10 30_6746

Further up Victoria Road we discovered the institute building which afforded the mill workers opportunities for adult education and socialising. It contained a library, lecture hall, gymnasium and games room, another example of how forward thinking Titus Salt was. On each corner of the wall surrounding the front lawn and entrance to the institute we found 4 lions, one on each corner each with very different expressions.

2014 10 30_6752 2014 10 30_67542014 10 30_6749 2014 10 30_67552014 10 30_6753 2014 10 30_6756


Directly opposite the institute is where the youngsters were educated, the school. It is an impressive building which reflected the importance and emphasis Salt placed on education This was at a time when the mills relied on cheap child labour to boost the work force, but a law was in force to control their working hours.

2014 10 30_6750 2014 10 30_6751


If you cast your mind back to the end of part one, you will remember that Salt had provided allotments for his workers. The first picture below shows part of this community garden. Close by recently created miniature raised beds perform the same function.

2014 10 30_6763 2014 10 30_67622014 10 30_6759 2014 10 30_6760

After enjoying these little productive plots we began making our way back to the mill and the canal and the river Aire that run alongside it. We wanted to look around the park on the far side of the canal. On our way we were delighted to see a contemporary tribute to Titus Salt, “Titus Teas”.


2014 10 30_6761

The park is a large open green space away from the mill and the village where Salt’s workers would have had the opportunity to appreciate the space and the freedom to wander. The contrast to work must have been so powerful! Every opportunity to add colour has been taken here, even on the metalwork of the seats and bandstand.

2014 10 30_6764 2014 10 30_6765 2014 10 30_6766 2014 10 30_6768 2014 10 30_6770 2014 10 30_6771 2014 10 30_6772 2014 10 30_6773

2014 10 30_6774 2014 10 30_6778

2014 10 30_6775 2014 10 30_6776

The cricket pitch with its pavilion must have been a real luxury. This is still used today and has been modernised through the addition of an electronic score-board. It was so good to see the thoughts and works of Titus salt still having a meaning in today’s world. The park he created was busy with families and groups of youngsters enjoying the freedom it gives.

Salt was years ahead of his time. His philanthropy pre-empted the things we take for granted today, those things that make our lives more pleasant, such as the health service and pensions. It was a privilege to walk through his model village, to see what he achieved and imagine what it meant to his workers.

2014 10 30_6779 2014 10 30_6780 2014 10 30_6777

architecture buildings model villages townscapes Yorkshire

Saltaire – a unique village – Part One

Saltaire is a place with a special atmosphere and a special place in British history, but also a place which very few people have ever heard of. We visited last year but then because of time and terribly wet weather we did not have time to look around the village itself. At that time we spent the day exploring the Salts gallery, where you can see so many pieces of art work from David Hockney, as well as galleries of furniture and beautiful craftwork.

Saltaire is a World Heritage Site and is recognised for the part it played in the development of the society we live in today. When you visit it is hard to believe it was the creation of one man, Titus Salt, a true visionary. He began as a successful business man, indeed one of England’s most eminent Victorian industrialists. He began by building a mill where he aimed to produce the finest wool fabrics utilising the most efficient methods available at the time.

2014 10 30_6765 2014 10 30_67622014 10 30_6732

What made Salt stand “head and shoulders” above his contemporaries was his desire to provide his workers with the healthiest working conditions possible. coupled with this was his ambition to provide his workers and their families with social and community benefits virtually unknown during this period of British social history. We discovered how he achieved this as we explored the “model village” of Saltaire.

It was great to arrive again at Saltaire with the weather slightly better than on our last visit. Dull, overcast but not raining! So follow in our footsteps along the cobbled streets as Jude the Undergardener negotiates the town trail leaflet which took us down into Albert Terrace.

2014 10 30_6708 2014 10 30_6707

We turned into William Henry Street where we noticed a variety of styles and sizes of house, from the smallest terraces with no front garden to three story town houses and larger semi-detached homes with gardens. This reflected the status and responsibilities of the tenant. Every street in Saltaire is wide enough to ensure natural light for every home. The three story buildings comprised shared lodgings for single workers whereas those adjoining with a small front garden were homes to the factory foremen.

2014 10 30_6710 2014 10 30_6711 2014 10 30_6712

In Caroline Street the front door of every house opens directly onto the street showing that these tenants were the lowliest workers. The back lanes between the rear yards of these terraces, which once would have been home to the washing lines and ash cans have become the habitat of the wheelie-bin.

2014 10 30_6713 2014 10 30_6719

When we turned the corner into Albert Road we noticed a distinct change. The houses here were larger, grander residences and all semi-detached. These were home to company executives, teachers and the church minister. These would have been built  on the outer boundary to ensure their tenants had a view of open countryside as befitting their status at that time. Open spaces throughout were left for small squares and gardens for communal use. The bunting hanging in the trees shows that this still holds true today.

2014 10 30_6717 2014 10 30_6716

All homes whatever the status of the tenant had better conditions than anywhere else in the country at that period. Every house had running water, gas lights, a yard and an outside toilet. There must have been a great sense of pride here. The alternative conditions which most of their contemporaries endured would have been a different world. Salt had moved his factories and his workforce out of Bradford which was then the fastest growing town in the UK. The mill workers of Northern mill towns such as Bradford would have suffered terrible, dirty, dangerous working conditions and slums as homes. Working conditions would still have been difficult and the hours long but Salt was a philanthropic employer.

2014 10 30_6722 2014 10 30_6726

2014 10 30_6715 2014 10 30_67232014 10 30_6727 2014 10 30_6730 2014 10 30_6731

One of Titus Salt’s most thoughtful and forward thinking ideas was the provision of almhouses, which we found situated around Alexandra Square. These were homes for elderly and infirm persons “of good moral character”. The inhabitants of the almhouses were also given a pension, all this 40 years before the first state pension. The buildings themselves were very decorative and overlooked an open area of garden.

2014 10 30_6733 2014 10 30_6734 2014 10 30_6735 2014 10 30_6736

We were by this time well in need of a lunch break so made our way to the small area of shops and cafes in the centre. In part two you will find us in search of the social and community buildings, of which Titus Salt provided many. I leave you with another view of the mill with the allotments in the foreground. Salt ensured that there were green areas between the mill and his workers’ homes. The green spaces around the church served the same purpose.

2014 10 30_6705 2014 10 30_6703


Sadly someone left Saltaire less happy than we were – they went home with only one glove!

2014 10 30_6704