Saltaire, West Yorkshire

Saltaire Story, West Yorkshire

Saltaire, West Yorkshire, is a complete, well-preserved industrial village.It became a World Heritage site in 2001. Saltaire is close to Shipley and just to the north of the centre of Bradford. Its textile mills, public buildings and workers' housing are built to high architectural standards and because the town plan survives intact, one gets a vivid impression of Victorian philanthropic paternalism.

Mill owner and philanthropist Sir Titus Salt built his village in the 19th century for the spiritual, physical and moral welfare of the workers in his woolen mills. His great mill complex is the main feature of Saltaire and houses a gallery containing the largest collection of art in Europe by Bradford artist David Hockney. It was converted to a gallery by Jonathan Silver.

The village was founded by Sir Titus Salt in 1853. His woolen mill business had been in Bradford, and he moved to this rural site to give his workers better conditions. He built not only houses, but supplied a park, a hospital, wash-houses with running water, a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room. When he died in 1876, he was buried in a Mausoleum beside the Saltaire United Reformed Church.

Sir Titus Salt was a Victorian philanthropist who was able to control his workforce because they lived in his village. Trade Unions were banned, and he did not build a pub in the village.

When Sir Titus's son, inherited the village when his father died, and on his death Saltaire was bought by a partnership which included James Roberts from Haworth who had worked at the mill since the age of twelve. Sir James Roberts lost his fortune when his investments in Russia were seized during the Russian Revolution.

The textile industry gradually declined, as it did everywhere in Britain , and by 1980's the Mill had become redundant.
Jonathan Silver purchased the Mill in 1987 as a semi derelict ruin. He proceeded to turn Salts Mill massive office space, shopping centre and the 1853 Hockney art galleries. Over 1500 people are employed on the site by firms which include high-tech manufacturing companies like Pace Micro Technology and Filtronic Comtek plc.

Other buildings in the village have now been transformed into shops, restaurants and pubs (Sir Titus would never have allowed this). The old Institute holds the Victorian Reed Organ Museum.

United Reformed Church is a unique example of Italian religious architecture.

Salts Mill, Saltaire



World Heritage Sites in Britain