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Image © La Mon1 via Flickr

Take a Trip: Visit Saltaire, West Yorkshire

5 June 2019 | Maisy Farren

15 minutes away from Leeds and only 10 minutes away from Bradford, this World Heritage Site village is steeped with an interesting and pretty unknown history. Considered a model Victorian village and set around the beautiful River Aire, the village contains rows of charming terraced houses, a remarkable hub of creativity and a glorious public park. Check out our round-up of what to see and do in Saltaire. 


Image credit: Scott Watton via Flickr
Salts Mill
 
The history of Salts Mill is, in fact, the history of Saltaire itself. In the midst of the industrial revolution, Titus Salt is a businessman, philanthropist and mayor of Bradford. He tries, and sadly fails, to eradicate some of the horrible working and living conditions of families working in Bradford’s many mills, as well as reducing the pollution that the mills produced. As a businessman, he wanted to consolidate his five separate mills into one larger mill, and did so in what would later become Saltaire. Saltaire Mills would demand a large workforce, so he went about creating a wonderful village in which his employees should live. He built terraced houses, worlds away from the slums of Bradford, as well as bath-houses, a hospital, a library, a concert hall, a billiard room, school and a gymnasium. The mill opened in 1853 with a huge banquet for the residents of the town, and the village was considered a landmark in urban planning. Driven by staunch Christian values, Salt continued to provide a better life for his workers until the day he died and was made baronet by Queen Victoria. 
 
Inevitably, the mill closed down in 1986. However, a huge building of such important cultural value to West Yorkshire would never go unloved, and it is now a creative hub for tourists and residents alike. The mill now acts as a gallery, café and restaurant, as well as having large independent art, books, jewellery, antiques and household items shops. The gallery is made up of several large rooms dedicated to Bradford-born artist David Hockney and is a great day out for families of all ages. 


Image credit: Andy via Flickr 
Roberts Park 
 
This beautiful park is minutes away from Salts Mill and Saltaire train station and is well worth a visit during your stay. It was opened by Sir Salt in 1871 for the residents of Saltaire to relax and unwind, and to this day plays an integral part in village recreation. Sit by the river and enjoy a picnic or partake in a game of cricket on the playing fields. The park boasts a bandstand, a pavilion café and a huge children’s play area. You can visit the original village stocks and a sheltered area which houses the original park rules from 1871. Luckily these rules don’t apply today, as they included no drinking alcohol in the park, no dogs and no music. 


Image credit: Saltaire Festival via Facebook
Saltaire Festival 
 
The annual September festival is a celebration of the village’s arts, community and history. Hosting 100s of events across 10 days, the village accommodates plenty of tourists and residents of nearby towns for two weekends. There’s always plenty of arts and crafts events, music, comedy and theatre and a range of exhibitions. The streets will also be filled with fab independent food vendors. Some of the events are ticketed, however the majority of the week is a free celebration of the village’s rich history. 
 
This year’s festival takes place 7-16 September. 


Image credit: Saltaire Festival via Facebook
Checkout the Canal 
 
The Leeds to Liverpool canal played as big a part of the industrial revolution as the mill workers themselves, and the footpath of this remarkable canal still connects the two cities. A popular tourist attraction is a 30-minute cruise on a traditional narrowboat, which will offer you a waterside view of the area. If you’d prefer to walk, a scenic route along the canal path will take you to the iconic Five Rise Locks in Bingley, a must-see part of Yorkshire’s history. 


Image credit: Simon Bramwell via Flickr 
Food and Drink 
 
Despite building a model village for his employees, Sir Salt ran a tight ship, and famously banned pubs and intoxicating drinks from his village. Luckily, over 150 years later this rule is no longer enforced, and the village has plenty of great places to eat and drink. Check out cocktail bar Don’t Tell Titus, the riverside Boathouse Inn or renovated tram depot The Hop. The food at Salts Diner (inside Salts Mill) is an excellent choice for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack, and venturing further into Shipley town, the Aagrah is an award-winning curry house offering a generous buffet. 
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