Saltaire - History and Facts | History Hit


Saltaire, England, United Kingdom

Peta Stamper

04 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Saltaire

Saltaire is a Victorian model village in Shipley, West Yorkshire in England, known for the Victorian Salt’s Mill and associated residential area besides the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and European Route of Industrial Heritage, Saltaire’s name reflect’s its roots as an industrial village situated by the River Aire.

Today, you can wander the streets of Saltaire’s Italianate-inspired buildings and stop by Roberts Park, named for Sir James Roberts who took over the village when its founder, Sir Titus Salt, died.

Saltaire history

Saltaire was built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salk, one of Yorkshire’s leading wool industrialists. Salt moved his 5 mills from nearby Bradford to the area to arrange his workers and build a new and large textile mill by the Leeds and LIverpool Canal. The area also had growing railway links and was ideal for transporting goods.

Along with the mills, Salt built neat stone workers houses, improving their quality of living dramatically from the growing Victorian slums of Bradford. The houses had tap water, bath-houses, a hospital as well as ensuring avenues for education through a library, reading room and gymnasium. The village also had a school for the workers’ children, and spaces for leisure, such as allotments, a billiards room, a concert hall and a park.

The combination of better housing, leisure and education, alongside steady employment, all provided a model town for enlightened 19th century urban planning. So much was Saltaire admired, that planners from Japan visited in 1872 during a tour of industrial Britain.

Saltaire today

Saltaire remains a charming village with evident industrial heritage, as the Salt’s Mills tower above the small Victorian workers’ cottages. In 2001, the area was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, recognising that Saltaire deserved state protection as an important symbol of British industrial heritage and an attitude towards providing better working conditions.

The main mill building remains a hub of village life: you can see the 1853 art gallery, featuring art from Bradford-born David Hockney, as well as several shops selling books and outdoor-wear and restaurants and cafes. The village has also been noted for its role in the BBC TV series, ‘Peaky Blinders’.

Getting to Saltaire

Saltaire is situated only a 15 minute drive from Bradford via the A6037. Via public transport, the northern railway will take you to Saltaire Station in the village centre every 15 minutes, heading to Shipley and changing there for Saltaire.

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