A grey day for a legacy and a visit to a dark satanic mill!
A brooding grey sky flecked with sleet and snow accompanied by a lazy wind (that’s northern speak for a cold wind that blows straight through you rather than around you). What better a day than a trip to the mill, but this was not just any mill, this was to Saltaire and to Sir Titus Salt’s mill.
Not all Victorian industrialists built empires of factories belching smoke to amass fortunes gloating at the misery and misfortunes of the workforce and watching them struggle with ill health, poverty and hardship. Sir Titus Salt was one such man, a man with compassion and a vision who created more than just a dark satanic mill, a textile factory employing thousands. He also built a town alongside the mill to house his workers and to meet their everyday needs. He built the town of Saltaire in West Yorkshire.
Salts Mill, opened in 1853 and employed 3,000 workers in the world’s biggest factory producing 30,000 yards of cloth a day. And adjacent to the mill stand rows of terraced houses in a grid of streets which include shops, a hospital, a workers institute, a church, alms houses, a school, a reading room, concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory, gymnasium, sports facilities, allotments and a large park. Today the shops might have changed and include galleries and gift shops, bistros and cafes but his dream lives on.
Salts Mill no longer produces textiles, but it remains a living monument to the past updated with the present, housing antiques, retail shops and the David Hockney Gallery. Saltaire is a thriving and active community, a legacy to the philanthropy of one man, Sir Titus Salt.
And it’s a great place to visit and for a walk along the banks of the canal, though not on such a cold January day!
Image Credit » Photographs Copyright 2015 by Antony J Waller