What is Saltaire

In Source 4 Saltaire is shown to be in 1850 to be next to nothing. Just green fields and a small mill (Dixon’s mill) a canal and train track running though it. What we now call Victoria road was called Dixon mill road. This was a quite area three miles from the hassle of Bradford. It was a near perfect place for a model village. According to Source two the same year Titus Salt a mill-owner who found the method of using alpaca wool for lamas, had an idea for a model village.

He saw a way of leading his workers into a new way of life, away from the stink and stews of Bradford at the time to a new place, a village to be built among fields and woods, with good fresh air and as much sunlight as could be had from a sky which touched the Pennines. He sought to create a worker’s utopia with striking landscapes and substantial architecture. The place was Saltaire, Salt after himself and Aire because of the river that runs though it. He bought the entire site and started to build the very next year.

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There was a railway and a canal to bring in raw materials and take away the finished cloth this cut cost as there where no need to build transportation ways where needed as they were already there. To perfect the site was to demolish Dixon’s mill. Salt saw the village as we do today. But his dream wasn’t fulfilled over night it took another twenty-one year to complete. This was an extremely large change to the site of Saltaire. Firstly the Salts mill the train station and canal stop was built the mill took two years to complete.

Also being the largest mill in the world at completion in 20th September 1853 Saltaire mill is opened on Titus Salt’s fiftieth birthday. The Mill represented the bleeding edge technology of its time integrating all the processes of the trade. This development had been made possible by the progressive mechanisation of worsted manufacture over the previous fifty years and by the huge accumulation of capital, which resulted, from them and from Britain’s domination of world trade.

Having three thousand guests invited (including a lord according to source 10) to it opening celebration. After revelling in his triumph for a few years he decided to take the next step in his project Saltaire. Being a religious man he build a Congregational church (Now united reformed church) across the road from the mill. Providing his worker with a place to pray. Remarkably the next building to be made where baths and washhouses where employees could have a decent wash and clean.

This was making people flocking to Saltaire for employment (Around 3,500 in a few years from Bradford alone). And improving standard in employee benefits across the country. In the same year Titus Salt was elected as the M. P. for Bradford. But Saltaire really became Saltaire in 1863 when the houses where completed. Houses the like of which his workforce had not even dreamed, in the slums they had inhabited. Fresh water was piped into each home from Saltaire’s own 500,000 gallon reservoir.

Gas was also laid on to provide lighting and heating. Unlike the people of Bradford, also amazingly for the time, every family in Saltaire had its own outside lavatory. Titus Salt always encouraged people to keep themselves clean. After Salt retired in 1861 and his sons taking greater control of the town, In the years after luxuries such as Saltaire School and hospital and also the ‘New mill’ (according to source 20) was built between the canal and the river, adding dye works and gas works.

The new mill is five storeys with a separate power supply. After Titus Salt was knighted in 1869 (according to source 2) The Saltaire institute (now Victoria hall) was built in 1871. Source 20 clams Titus junior said, ‘it was intended to supply the advantages of a public house, without its evils, it will be a place to which you can resort for conversation, business, recreation and refreshment, as well as for education-elementary technical and scientific. ‘ The facilities included reading, chess, draught and smoking rooms.

Also in this year we see the almshouses built, these were the larger houses. Each with a boiler, oven and pantry (according to source 20). Although many of the occupants were former employees, this was not necessary. The requirements were ‘a good moral character and incapacity for labour, by reason of age, disease or infirmity. Also in this year according to source 2. Saltaire Park opened (now Roberts Park named after James Robert, former director of Salt’s donated it to the Corporation. Renamed in 1920)

Only five years after this Titus Salt died he is now buried in the Mausoleum in Saltaire. After his sons took full responsibility for Saltaire. In Saltaire’s relatively short time up to 1900. The period that showed the most change in the village would be either the main launch of the mill, putting Saltaire on the map as the largest mill in the world or after the mammoth task of completing the houses in 1863, Or even when the luxury buildings such as the school, the hospital, the new mill, institute, almshouses and the park were finished.

In 1900 Salts mill was no longer owned by the Salt family. The change of ownership did change the village a little. The park was renamed Roberts Park. Over the years the textile industry gradually declined, and by 1980’s the Mill became virtually redundant. Eventually Jonathan Silver purchased the Mill in 1987. It was semi derelict and appeared to have no positive future. Through the vision of Jonathan, Salts Mill has been transformed to massive office space and the 1853 Hockney (also born in Saltaire) art galleries.

Over 1500 people are employed on the site by firms which include large high-tech manufacturing companies like Pace electronics and Filtronic Comtek plc. Now Saltaire is a tourist site, with visitors from around the globe, looking at a ‘snapshot’ of Victorian life. This is one of the only Victorian model villages that has ‘hardly’ been touched as time passes. This shows that not many physical changes were made during 1900 to the present day.

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