It’s sunny up north

Written by Haydn Williams

We’ve spent the weekend in Leeds visiting family, and I used that as an excuse to schedule a trip to another UNESCO World Heritage site. The target for this excursion was the village of Saltaire, built by mill owner Titus Salt in the 19th century to house, care for, and entertain his workers. The mill was built in 1853 and has over a million square feet of floor space; it only stopped working in 1986. It was revolutionary in that it housed the entire process for dealing with wool, taking it from the raw material straight off the back of the sheep (or alpaca, as that’s how Titus made his initial fortune) all the way through to the finished product.

Salt's Mill, Saltaire. (c) Haydn Williams 2011
Salt’s Mill, Saltaire. (c) Haydn Williams 2011

It’s an impressive building, now housing a number of shops and cafes, along with a massive collection of works by the artist David Hockney. I’ll confess to never really having ‘got’ Hockney, so – while interesting – it was probably a little wasted on me. The rest of the village is made up of terraced workers’ accommodation, a church to keep them spiritually satisfied, and a hall where they could participate in physical exercise and a variety of arts and crafts, etc.

Yorkshire countryside. (c) Haydn Williams 2011
Yorkshire countryside. (c) Haydn Williams 2011

The Leeds – Manchester canal also runs past the mill, along with a railway line (both developments that Titus predicted). We took a stroll along the canal away from the main village and soon found some relief from the ice cream vans and crowds of people enjoying the sunshine. Returning along the River Aire was all rather pleasant, followed up by a nice meal that evening and a trip to Roundhay Park earlier today. Thank you, Yorkshire.