THE UNITED REFORM CHURCH, Saltaire, West Yorkshire. (See comments box for story).

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Roy Pledger on December 2, 2011

This church at Saltaire, one of the nation’s most precious Victorian architectural gems, is now a Grade 1 listed building and the Italianate religious architecture is a sight top behold.

In 1853, on his 50th birthday, Sir Titus Salt opened his visionary textile mill and workers village on the bank of the River Aire near to Shipley in West Yorkshire. The mill had 4 beam engines supplied with steam by 14 boilers, which powered 1200 looms capable of producing 30,000 yards of cloth a day. The village, called Saltaire, comprising 22 streets, 850 houses and 42 alms houses, provided almost luxury accommodation for his workforce. There were no public houses, but a Club and Institute which cost £25,000 to build, catered for the moral and physical welfare of the community, together with reading rooms, a theatre, a library and several shops. A School of Arts also contained a gymnasium and a billiard room, whilst wash houses were complete with washing machines and drying facilities. There was of course a school for the worker’s children and the very fine Congregational Church which cost £16,000 to build. The village even had its own fire brigade, was serviced by gas, and had a canal and a railway station. Allotments were provided and the worker’s had full use of a dining room where they could bring their own food and have it cooked, or they could purchase food at very low cost. Curiosities within the village are the four stone lions to be seen on guard outside the Literary Institute and the schools. They had been commissioned for the embellishment of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square but in the event they were considered to be too insignificant for the purpose and were subsequently bought By Sir Titus Salt. Landseer’s lions were of course chosen for the London site. Although times have changed, the whole complex is now preserved and in 2001 became a World Heritage Site. It is still a living community, but the houses, the mill and other premises are privately occupied.

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  • Uploaded on December 2, 2011
  • Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works
    by Roy Pledger