The Great Legacy of Saltaire
by Craven and Valley Life
Unlike many northern towns and villages, you won’t find any mention of Saltaire in the Domesday Book. It simply didn’t exist until the mid-19th century.
Titus Salt – later Sir Titus – simply added the name of the river Aire to his own name to create Saltaire, the model village he created for the workers who generated his wealth in his huge canalside woollen mill.
Titus became his father’s partner in the business of Daniel Salt and Son, and in the 1830s he began to experiment with wool from the alpaca, the South American animal related to the camel. The lustrous cloth Salts produced became fashionable and made the family’s fortune. They had the biggest factory in Bradford.
While many manufacturers were content to leave their workers living in squalor, Salt bought a completely new site three miles from Bradford on the Aire and built his huge new mill, Britain’s biggest at the time, along with spacious and healthy terrace homes for his workforce. For their physical, moral and spiritual welfare, the deeply religious Salt banned licensed premises and provided bathhouses, an institute, hospital, almshouses and churches.
Although the mill eventually ceased manufacturing in the 1980s, a massive restoration scheme was put in place, so that Saltaire and in particular Salt’s Mill remain today as a testimony to the great man’s drive and ambition.
In 2015, Salt’s Mill is one of the most important tourist attractions in West Yorkshire, and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site of architectural and historical interest. On the ground floor, the 1853 Gallery is home to one of the largest permanent collections of celebrated Yorkshire artist David Hockney’s distinctive work.
Salt’s Mill is one of the most important tourist attractions in West Yorkshire
Shoppers have a choice of many independent shops which include everything from bikes to antiques, including Salts Book and Poster shop and a luxury homeware and furniture shop.
To keep the kids occupied take a stroll to Roberts Park which has recently been restored with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and has won the prestigious Green Flag Award. There’s a brilliant new play area and skate park, as well as a beautiful bandstand where concerts are staged throughout the summer months.