Salts Mill

Past and Present

The History of Salt’s Mill

Salt’s Mill in the West Yorkshire England village of Saltaire is named for the man who established the woollen mill located here in the mid 19th century. Sir Titus Salt was born and raised in Leeds, not far from the site of the mill.

When Titus was a young man, he joined his father’s business in nearby Bradford and learned all of the facets of the wool trade. He journeyed to the larger cities of England to gain all of the information he could about all of the varieties of wool. He also learned how to conduct business with wool traders as well as the farmers who raised the animals that provided the wool.

Salt established his own mill in Bradford so that he could spin his special alpaca wool himself. He became so successful that he eventually bought another four mills in the middle of Bradford. By 1834 his mills were thriving and he had become a very rich man.

Titus Salt was seen to be a very caring man and was concerned about the poverty among his workers. Although this is not known some feel he was caring and looked after his workers so they had no time off from working in the mill. Over the years, Bradford had become very industrialized with many mills adding pollution to the air. That area had grown so quickly because of the success of the all the mills that the town was extremely overpopulated. Many of the mill workers were living in slums filled with disease. The disease stemmed from the water in this part of the canal that was stagnant and full of industrial waste. This all prompted Salt to begin plans to build another mill outside of Bradford.

The location he chose was next to both the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the River Aire, making it an ideal location for transporting his finished product. The spot was also surrounded by the beauty of the Yorkshire moors. The mill was constructed of yellow sandstone with Italianate architectural style. This was a very popular Victorian-era style used in construction during this period. The mill was completed in 1853.

Titus took the next step in protecting his workers from the filth, disease, and overcrowding of Bradford by building an entire village around the mill in which they could live. Saltaire, as it was named, was self-contained with its own shops, schools, churches, parks, and everything else required so that the workers would not have to return to Bradford at all.

Salt became Sir Titus Salt when Queen Victoria made him a baronet. He died in 1876 and the mill remained in operation more than 100 years after his death. It was closed in 1986. Titus Salt is also famous for banning pubs in the village.

Salt’s Mill Present Day

When Salt’s Mill closed, a man named Jonathan Silver purchased it and immediately began renovating it. Today, the main building of the mill is home to an assortment of enterprises, including:

· The 1853 Gallery, named for the year the mill opened, covers several of the larger rooms and contains various works of the artist David Hockney was born and raised in Bradford.

· There is a wide variety of shops that sell things like art supplied, books, jewellery, antiques, outdoor clothing, and household items.

· Cafes and restaurants.

The rest of the mill contains a mixture of different businesses and offices. Across the canal from the old mill is the newer addition. .