Earlier posts

Earlier posts
This blog is a continuation of an older one. To explore previous posts please click the photo above.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Boardroom exhibition

During the Saltaire Arts Trail, I visited an exhibition in the room in Salts Mill that used to be the company boardroom. 'Saltaire: Foundation and Legacy' told the story of Saltaire's founder, Sir Titus Salt and that of one of his successors as the owner of Salts Mill, Sir James Roberts. It had details of their lives and families; the story of the rise, fall, rise and fall again of the textile business and information about the wide-ranging contributions they both made to the local community. (It's perhaps not very widely known, for example, that Sir James Roberts bought the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth and gifted it to the Brontë Society.) 

The boardroom now lies empty again, after a brief spell acting as the local Tourist Information Office. Council cutbacks put paid to that. The massive table that once graced the room is now in the 'People and Process' gallery in the Mill itself. 


Tuesday, 29 June 2021


Since they felled the mature trees down Victoria Road (which were damaging the pavements and making them uneven) there really aren't many big trees left in Saltaire, apart from around the church, in the almshouses garden and one opposite the Victoria Hall. There's a large monkey puzzle tree up on George Street (see HERE). One day, I noticed this birch on Albert Terrace is really quite large now. I've never really stopped and looked at it before. I'm still finding 'new' things, after living here for over twenty years! 

Monday, 28 June 2021

Salts Works

For a long time, this site on Saltaire Road housed a rather rundown shop/showroom space that had a multitude of different tenants and uses over the years. A few years ago, that was demolished and this rather smart, architect designed building was constructed. It must have been a speculative venture and it has stood unfinished and empty now for several years. Recently there has been work going on there and then I had a leaflet through my door, advertising the new users: Salts Works.  

The ground floor will be the home of the non-profit People Powered Press: the world's largest letterpress printing press, relocating, I believe, from somewhere in Leeds. They work collaboratively with community groups and individuals to create poetry, creative writing and large-scale letterpress works and will also run workshops related to writing, calligraphy, printing, book-binding and signwriting. 

The upper floor will be a new 15 desk co-working space, run by design studio Split, with access to meeting rooms, desk spaces and internet. It's opening at the beginning of July. 

What was designed as a car park at the side will now be a garden. That sounds nice... with my only reservation being that it will likely put even more pressure on nearby streets, which are already chock full of local workers' parked cars during the week. 

It all sounds rather exciting to me and is just the kind of venture that should do well in this neck of the woods, Saltaire being already quite a creative hub. I wish them every success. (Just don't park outside my house!) 

(See HERE for their website and HERE for a recent press write-up)

Sunday, 27 June 2021


I'm sure I've seen this stone relief alpaca before on my wanderings around Saltaire's Salts Mill but I don't think I've ever photographed it or posted it on my blog. The alpaca is a creature that pops up all over the place locally, in statues and on buildings. The story (true as far as I know) is that in 1836 Titus Salt came across some bales of alpaca wool in a warehouse in Liverpool. He obviously thought: "Alpaca some of this in my bag to take home". He brought some away to experiment with and then returned and bought the whole load. He and his team worked out a way of spinning it to make a fine, lustrous cloth that became very fashionable with well-dressed Victorian ladies, including the Queen. It contributed in no small part to the growth of his business empire and his personal fortune, and therefore to the development of Salts Mill and the surrounding village of Saltaire. 

Saturday, 26 June 2021

If stones could talk...

Here are a few more atmospheric images of the derelict mansion that was Milner Field, Titus Salt Jnr's house. For a brief note of its history, please see HERE. The lumps of masonry scattered among the trees are overgrown with moss and lichen but you can still see the detailing on some of the pieces. I think the chunk above may have been in the garden, perhaps a pedestal for a statue? 

There a several pieces that appear to have a gully in them (below), possibly part of the rainwater guttering system. 

It's really hard nowadays to see exactly where the house would have stood. There are piles of rubble from its demolition but, since the 1950s, trees have rapidly reclaimed the site. Some of them are barely rooted under the soil, seeming to have wrapped around the stone like tentacles, like the one in the photo below. 

The vast and empty conservatory floor is perhaps the most poignant part. You can see the outline of the floor plan and some of the remaining mosaic. Sad to think it was once a showpiece full of exotic ferns and plants, enjoyed by - among others - the then Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) and his wife on a royal visit in 1882 (when 'the conservatory was lighted with small coloured incandescent lamps, concealed among the foliage and had a lovely effect'.) It seems it was the done thing to invite the Prince's mistress, Lillie Langtry, too - otherwise the Prince might turn down the invitation!

However grand the house was in its heyday, it was really quite an ugly, heavy-looking building. Perhaps no great loss then. I much prefer the natural beauty now gracing the site. I loved noticing the tiny new leaves on this sycamore tree. 


Friday, 25 June 2021

Three ways

You may recall me mentioning the camera club outing I arranged locally that had to be aborted due to a sudden, heavy rainstorm. I rearranged it for two separate dates to accommodate those who'd originally booked and the weather was, thankfully, good for both dates. It did mean I did the same walk several times in quick succession but that was an interesting exercise, seeking to find a 'new perspective' for my own photos each time. On the last visit up at Milner Field, I spotted this arrangement of trees, with one trunk leaning quite markedly and a slender sapling alongside it. Quite nice as a study, I thought - and fun to experiment with different processing methods. So here is: realism, mono and, thirdly, a darker and more atmospheric rendition. I can't decide which I like most. 


Thursday, 24 June 2021

Calderdale's fields and woods

A few more photos from my birthday ramble through the meadows and woods above Hebden Bridge. There are a few old, sturdy-looking, stone farmhouses dotted around, though whether they are used as farms nowadays or simply residences is unclear. Most of the fields seemed to be hay meadows, full of wildflowers and an abundance of different grasses. (There's an interesting discourse on the subject of meadows HERE).

On the other side of the Calder valley, Stoodley Pike peace monument is visible for miles around. A monument was first built there in 1814/15, during the Napoleonic Wars. The present structure was completed in 1856 at the end of the Crimean Wars. 

The wildflower meadows give way to craggy woodland down the valley sides. The bluebells are long gone but there are wild rhododendrons in bloom (pretty, provided there aren't too many, as they are an invasive species)  and later there will be bilberries and blackberries to forage. 


Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Summer days

It was my birthday recently and I spent a very lovely day with my family in Hebden Bridge. We had a good walk, down through the fields below Blackshaw Head and then through the woods back to home. 

The meadows were brimming with wildflowers and the girls enjoyed exploring. They are beginning to learn some of the flower names - and birds too. There was a curlew flying on the far side of the meadow; it probably had a nest over there, so the dog was kept on a lead but he accepted that gracefully. 

Much of the path we followed is part of the Pennine Way. We were passed by couple of runners doing the Montane Spine Summer Race, an ultra-endurance race from Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District 268 miles non-stop along the Pennine Way to its end point in Kirk Yetholm. (See HERE). By the time we realised what they were doing they were long gone but I can only admire their courage and fitness. They looked remarkably fresh. This year, due to Covid restrictions, the runners were in 'pods' with staggered start times, so we didn't see any more. Past winners have completed the whole race in about 78-82 hours! You have 156 hours to do it. The winter Spine Race is of course, even more demanding. 

My girls, meanwhile, continued to develop their own fearless athleticism by climbing trees and playing in rocky streams along the way. I have to be careful to hold in my anxiety! They are much braver and more sure-footed than I have ever been. Their mum, wisely, just advises them in a positive way what they must watch out for ('avoid the dead branchesalways stand on a branch that has leaves, as they are stronger'). It's the kind of idyllic, carefree childhood that I would have wanted for the girls and I am so happy that they are making the most of it. Childhood is so short and precious and yet so foundational to one's whole life. 

The day reminded me of my own childhood trips, often with my grandparents (as they had a car) into the nearby Derbyshire Dales, picnicking in meadows among the buttercups and cow parsley. Happy days.  

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Ducks in a row

The ducks seemed to prefer sunbathing to swimming, all lined up in a row beside Otley weir.  There was a corn mill on the riverside here in Otley in 1130 and later there was a fulling mill (where wool was cleaned) and, for 300 years, Garnetts Paper Mill. The mill weir is still there and now has an Archimedes Screw hydro-electric plant. The site of the mill, Garnett Wharfe, has in recent years been redeveloped into housing, as you can see on the far bank, and what remains of the old mill building is now a restaurant. 
When I took the photo I was standing in Wharfemeadows Park, and from here there is an attractive riverside walk to Gallows Hill Nature Reserve. There used to be an open air Lido (outdoor swimming pool), which local people are hoping to resurrect, and there is a large playground for children to enjoy.  

Monday, 21 June 2021

A sunny day in Otley

A sunny day in Otley brought the crowds out to Wharfemeadows Park. The boat hire was doing a booming trade, though some people had brought their own craft, like the young boys in the bottom photo. It must be a relatively safe stretch of the River Wharfe. There is a weir but there was a safety rope across to prevent people rowing too close. You can, however, row a fair distance up the river, passing under the beautiful seven-arched bridge, a scheduled ancient monument, which in part is 800 years old. 

There was a time when the river in Roberts Park in Saltaire would have been as busy this. As I noted yesterday, many years ago there used to be boats for hire in Saltaire too and a small passenger steamer for cruises up and down the river. (See HERE.) 

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Last orders

The setting sun illuminated the Boathouse Inn - and its reflection in the super-calm river provided twice the value. It is open again now after the long, enforced Covid closure, with table service only in the restaurant and bar. It didn't look particularly busy when I walked past but I notice places are closing relatively early at the moment, as they adjust to the new normal. It was probably past 'last orders' as it was about 9.15 pm. 

The inn was built originally as a boathouse in 1871. This stretch of the river used to have rowing boats for hire and a small steam boat, The Rose of Saltaire, that did pleasure trips. The boathouse later became a pub and was rebuilt and refurbished after a fire in 2008 and then again after the devastating floods in 2015. 

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Cats of Saltaire

Not long ago, I joined the Facebook group called 'Cats of Saltaire', just out of interest. I don't have a cat but there seem to be lots in the village. The group carries information about who has gone AWOL, who has come home, who is friends with whom and lots of photos of the local cats, who seem to live quite an idyllic life around here (apart from the risk to their nine lives from cars speeding illegally through the village). 

As a result of my perusing, I can reliably report that this handsome creature with the red collar goes by the name of Chappie. He seems to be quite an adventurer. I met him along the side of the canal. He's bold and sociable, quite happy to spend a few minutes being petted and seemingly quite unconcerned about who is doing the petting. He's something of a star on the FB page, chilling out with his friends on various village walls and street corners. He seems often to be found relaxing quite happily in someone else's home. (He seems to stroll in and out of people's houses and help himself to other cats' breakfasts with a great measure of feline chutzpah, from what I can gather!)  It was lovely to meet him. 

Friday, 18 June 2021

One way views

Now that the galleries and shops in Salts Mill have reopened, they have had to implement lots of measures to comply with Covid regulations. There are the ubiquitous bottles of hand sanitiser, and you have to wear a face mask inside. They've also implemented a one-way system, which means that the door I'd usually enter through from the village is closed. You have to walk round to the main entrance on the south side. On exiting, you find yourself in a different bit altogether. No matter. It provides some extra exercise and you get to see bits of the mill that are less well-known. 


Thursday, 17 June 2021

Take a little Hockney home...

Salts Mill's 1853 Gallery sells a wide range of artists' supplies and art books - including some covetable photography books. This wonderful, stone-flagged space, in the West Mill, also displays many examples of David Hockney's art work and several books about his work are available to buy.  Bradford-born Hockney was a friend of Jonathan Silver, the entrepreneur who saved the redundant textile mill from dereliction in 1987.  

The picture below of sunflowers was a painting Hockney sent to Jonathan when his friend was ill with cancer.  Silver very sadly died - much too young - in 1997. Thankfully, however, his family have continued to manage and develop Salts Mill, to the benefit of the entire village of Saltaire. 

As well as the pieces in the 1853 Gallery, upstairs there is a permanent exhibition of Hockney's 'The Arrival of Spring' iPad paintings, first displayed at the RA in London in 2012. See HERE. 

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Back street view

I don't think I've ever photographed this particular view before. It's in Saltaire, of course, looking north from Caroline Street along the alley at the back of the shops on Victoria Road. I think the alley is a little wider than some, perhaps to facilitate deliveries to the shops. It's quite a steep slope, steeper than Victoria Road itself, which levels out to the railway bridge. In the distance there is that wonderful view up to green fields and the moorland on Hope Hill. 

Many of the back walls have square holes in them. I'm unsure of their original purpose... for coal deliveries perhaps? Or even windows into a store room, possibly? This particular one had wonderful textures in the old wood and stone. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Summer evening in Saltaire

On these long, light summer evenings when it's been pleasantly warm, I have often enjoyed a late stroll around Roberts Park. One night, the sky was creating amazing effects as the sun set. The most vibrant colour was actually in the east, as the setting sun lit up a rather ominous bank of cloud over Shipley. It looked, for a while, as though the world was on fire. 



Monday, 14 June 2021

Wild goose chase

The pesky Canada geese have produced even more offspring. It's not that I mind them, in themselves, but I'm unhappy that over the years, as the flock has expanded, they've driven away a lot of the ducks and swans that used to frequent the local canal and river. They make a huge mess of droppings everywhere too! Nevertheless I chased them along the side of the canal trying to get a picture where they weren't all bunched together. The little ones and dad were busy grazing and didn't take much notice of me but mum (I'm assuming) kept her beady eye on me the whole time. (How do you tell a male from a female goose? With difficulty... so I may well have got them wrong!)


Sunday, 13 June 2021

Colour bursts

It's so lovely to see some colour around Saltaire village, after the long cold grey months. These are just random snaps found on my wanderings. It cheers me up - hope it does the same for you! 

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Wycoller's bridges

The hamlet of Wycoller was a sheep farming community in the 17th century and then boomed when handloom weaving was established in the 18th century. During the 19th century, weaving moved to industrial mills and by 1896 the village was virtually deserted, as people moved to the towns to find work. There's an interesting history HERE.

There are several bridges across Wycoller Beck. The twin-arched packhorse bridge dates to the 15th century and featured in the film 'The Railway Children'. At the other side of the ford is a late 18th century clapper bridge, an ancient form of bridge construction consisting of stone slabs supported on piers. 

It wasn't open when we visited but beyond the ruined hall there is a huge aisled barn, dating to around 1650. (See HERE). Beyond that there's a pretty little duckpond. 

Friday, 11 June 2021

Wycoller Hall

During the half-term holidays I met my daughter and the grandgirls at Wycoller Country Park. It's a favourite spot for paddling in the little stream, and there's a café too, though we took a picnic to enjoy this time. 

By the ford are the ruins of Wycoller Hall, a late 16th century manor house, linked to the Cunliffe family. It is thought to have been the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre. It's only about six miles from the Brontës' home in Haworth and the sisters would have known it well. 

It's an attractive spot on a sunny day though it can look forbidding in some weathers. There are inevitably ghost stories and tales associated with it. The last owner died, heavily in debt, in 1818 and the hall was subsequently plundered for stone and fell into ruin.  Its survival owes much to a local 'Friends of Wycoller' conservation group, who campaigned successfully in the 1950s for its preservation. The estate now belongs to Lancashire County Council. The hamlet of Wycoller, which has some fine old houses that are still in residential use, was designated a conservation area and the surroundings are a country park.