Monday, 7 September 2015

Saltaire

We made our way down the first staircase lock today in the company of NB Deolali. After that, however, they were pushing on, while we wanted to take a break at Saltaire.


Not "salt air", as in Scarborough, but the model village (and World Heritage Site) on the outskirts of Shipley, created in the 19th century by industrialist Titus Salt, who made his fortune by working out what to do with alpaca wool.


In response to a series of events that focussed his attention on the nature of life for typical industrial workers and their families, he built his new mill on the banks of the River Aire (Salt + Aire = Saltaire), transferred all his businesses there from Bradford, and built a new village to house the workers.


These pictures of the front and back of one of the streets show something of the result. The housing and the provision of local amenities were in massive contrast to the circumstances of workers in most industrial centres.


It's normal to poke a little fun at Sir Titus. He was an ardent Congregationalist, built the (now URC) church opposite the factory (it's now a listed building) and, responding as a teetotaller to the very significant social problem in this era of alcohol abuse, made sure there wasn't a pub in sight.


In fact, the first bar we saw today in Saltaire was called "Don't tell Titus"! He was very much a man of his age, and the type of house in which you got to live reflected your status within the factory. But he was a man of deep principle, who put his money where his mouth was, and whose ideas seem to have contributed significantly to ongoing thinking about town planning.


The mill closed in 1986, but the new owner transformed the buildings into a home for various businesses, and a gallery for the work of Bradford-born artist David Hockney.


I'd known very little of his work. He was at the forefront of the "Pop Art" movement, and the main gallery had a good mixture of work that I found surprisingly interesting and pleasing.


But it was the exhibition upstairs that really caught the eye. It was called "The Arrival of Spring", and consists of 31 works, done one each day during May 2011, capturing the changing season in his part of Yorkshire. He went out each day, and captured a scene on his iPad, using a painting app.


It was an extraordinary exhibition, enterprising and enjoyable, and all the more so for being unexpected. Erin Mae really does deliver some treats, as well as building up my stress levels as we move through the locks on the L & L.

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