Back in 2001 I wanted to improve my travel and social life by meeting new people around the country. Many of my potential paths in this minefield didn't quite work out but I acquired a group of West Yorkshire friends that mostly met in Bradford ( ... later years migrating to Leeds) and got my name on a National Organisation e-mail list for social weekend and (further afield difficult to attend) city day events. The adventures with both sets of people took me to new destinations, highs and lows on various levels that have been documented on about 20% of my blog posts.
On these trips to Bradford I had to travel through and stop at the traffic lights in Saltaire on many occasions, usually late on a saturday night but more often than not, very very early on a sunday morning. It may seem surprising to some but at the time I had no knowledge of what was just around the corner. I was somewhat surprised to see Saltaire on the National organisers programme of events as it didn't appear to me their routine location for a cultural day out, so as it seemed accessible, I thought I would give it a go. As fate would have it, this was three years ago and I don't recall ever seeing any of these people ever again !
Forgive me for the length of this post and duplication of material. Some of the other shots I wanted to leave out but for the purposes of the text, have had to leave them in.
The event started with lunch in a fascinating converted old Tramshed now known as the The Hop, so that gave me plenty of opportunity to arrive early and photograph the obvious sights of the canal, church and external mill shots on a fine October morning.
There are not many things I recommend on these blog pages as I generally leave it for the viewer to decide, but the organised village tour is a must for any visitor. After lunch we walked down to the Congregational church where the tour operators allocated to our group played the costume characters of Vicar and Church cleaner.
We were all given a card that depicted a real life character from the past and we essentially became that person for the afternoon with an external visit to their house. The superb tour was comprehensive and lasted most of the afternoon, anyone who visits Saltaire would be advised to pre book ...
Sir Titus Salt (1803 - 1876) was a Victorian Industrialist who originally made his money from the woollen industry in Bradford. He was born into a family that moved into a farming career and developed a business for importing wool from Russia for sale but with little success. With the attitude of "If you can't beat them, join them", Titus Salt took over his fathers business in 1833 and moved into his own wool manufacturing using a newly discovered Alpaca fibre that he came across in Liverpool. Eventually he became the biggest employer in Bradford and was promoted to City Mayor in 1848.
By way of background, social and working conditions were not ideal in Victorian West Yorkshire as you may recall with the health problems that faced the Bronte family in my Haworth post, not a million miles away albeit in the countryside.
As both Mayor and Employer, Titus Salt felt an obligation to improve both the pollution from his chimneys and working / health conditions for his workforce, but as Bradford was already over populated with industry, his efforts were fruitless.
The town of Saltaire (Titus "Salt" and The River "Aire") was born in 1851 after the completion of the Factory. His opening statement was "to do good and give his sons employment.
In the meantime, the employees were happy to travel the distance from Bradford while their rented accommodation was being built.
|Supervisors home ?? .... with garden !|
One thing that was forbidden in the newly built village was alcohol and public houses as he wanted the best from his workers. Tenants contracts would be terminated if they displayed unsuitable behaviour or mismanagement of their property thus losing their home and employment.
In addition to the housing, the infrastructure consisted of a ....
|an Institute (Education and recreation facility known as Victoria Hall),|
|a school, ...|
|a park ...|
and last but by no means least, a church that Titus Salt financed himself. It became his final resting place on a day when 100,000 people came out to show their respect.
|Salt and Light !!|
" Salt's motive's in building Saltaire remain obscure. They seem to have been a mixture of sound economics, Christian duty and a desire to have effective control over his workforce. There were economic reasons for moving out of Bradford and the village did provide him with an amenable, hand picked workforce....
... Yet Salt was deeply religious and sincerely believed that by creating an environment where people could lead healthy, virtuous, godly lives, he was doing God's work....
.... Perhaps also, diffident and articulate as he was, the village may have been a way of demonstrating the extent of his wealth and power. Lastly, he may also have seen it as a means of establishing an industrial dynasty to match the landed estates of his Bradford contemporaries. However Saltaire provided no real solution to the relationship between employer and worker. It's small size, healthy site and comparative isolation provided an escape rather than an answer to the problems of an urban society."
|the walk to work ...|
It was thought that Sir Titus placed "War and Peace" near the school to educate and unite the social classes in his society in order to avoid the uprising of the poor against the rich, something that was quite common elsewhere at the time. Education was seen by Salt as the way that the working class could improve themselves and thus closing the gap on class distinction in Victorian times. Determination and Vigilance represented the world of work, business and all the qualities required for the woollen trade.
As an aside to that, it's interesting that he may have been inspired by the thoughts of a contemporary Edward Ackroyd, but in turn the Lever Brothers (in the Port Sunlight post) followed a similar model many years later on the Wirral in Merseyside with their soap business, village and education of the workforce.
A second interesting fact that connects with something I mentioned earlier was that the inheritor of the business and village (James Roberts) donated some of his estate to preserve the Bronte's Parsonage at Haworth. This seems remarkable at a time when preservation was unheard of by at least 50 years.
|sunk ?? .... maybe not ....|
|Awaiting a large book order :-)|
|"Just one Cornetto, give it to me, delicious ice cream, from ...." not quite the Grand Canal of Venice !!|
Lastly with a twist of the tail, I wonder what Titus would make of the 21st century with a more unlikely trader overlooking the Salt Mill, seen in the reflection ....