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Saltaire is the name of a Victorian model village within the City of Bradfordmarker Metropolitan District, West Yorkshire, Englandmarker, by the River Airemarker and the Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker. UNESCOmarker has designated the village as a World Heritage Site, and it is a so-called Anchor Point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.


Saltaire was founded in 1853 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. The name of the village is a combination of the founder's surname with the name of the river. Salt moved his entire business (five separate mills) from Bradfordmarker to this site near Shipleymarker partly to provide better arrangements for his workers than could be had in Bradford and partly to site his large textile mill by a canal and a railway. Salt employed the Bradford firm of Lockwood and Mawson as his architects.

A similar project had been started a few years earlier by Edward Akroyd at Copleymarker, also in West Yorkshire. The cotton milling village of New Lanarkmarker, which is also a World Heritage site, was founded by David Dale in 1786.

Salt built neat stone houses for his workers (much better than the slums of Bradford), wash-houses with running water, bath-houses, a hospital, as well as an Institute for recreation and education, with a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and gymnasium. The village also provided a school for the children of the workers, almshouses, allotments, a park and a boathouse.

Sir Titus died in 1876 and was interred in the mausoleum adjacent to the Congregational Church. When Sir Titus Salt's son, likewise Sir Titus Salt, died, Saltaire was taken over by a partnership which included Sir James Roberts from Haworthmarker who had worked at the mill since the age of twelve, and who would travel to Russiamarker each year, speaking Russian fluently. James Roberts came to own Saltaire, but chose to invest his money heavily in Russia, losing some of his fortune at the Russian Revolution. He endowed a Chair of Russian at Leeds Universitymarker and bought the Brontë's Haworth Parsonagemarker for the nation. He is mentioned in T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. Roberts is buried at Fairlightmarker.

Saltaire today

In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCOmarker. This means that the government has a duty to protect the site. The buildings belonging to the model village are individually listed, with the highest level of protection being given to the Congregational Church (since 1972 known as the United Reformed Church) which is listed grade I. The village has survived remarkably complete, but further protection is needed: the village is somewhat blighted by traffic, as the Aire valley is an important East-West route. A bypass is proposed to relieve traffic pressure somewhat (see below). Roberts Park, on the North side of the river, has suffered over the years from neglect and vandalism, and is currently (2009) being restored by Bradford Council

Saltaire is also a Conservation Area. Victoria Hall (originally the Saltaire Institute) is used for meetings and concerts, and also houses the Victorian Reed Organ Museum. The village is served by Saltaire railway stationmarker.

The Saltaire Festival, which first took place in 2003 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Saltaire, is now held every year over eleven days in September.

Proposed bypass

Saltaire is surrounded by a Buffer zone established to protect the context of the World Heritage Site. Concerns have been raised over plans recently announced by Bradford Council and Action Airedale to run a bypass through the buffer zone either side of the World Heritage Site and to tunnel beneath the village itself. Within sight of the mill, the tunnel will follow the line of the railway and exit behind the United Reformed Church. As it then runs alongside the adjacent portion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker, it is also likely to have an impact on this Conservation Area. The current route will also impact on an ancient semi-natural woodland and the Woodland Garden of Remembrance at Nab Wood Cemetery.

Salts Mill today

Salts Millmarker closed in February 1986, and Jonathan Silver bought it the following year and began renovating it. Today it houses a mixture of business, commerce, leisure and residential use.In the main mill building are:

The "New Mill", on the other side of the canal, is divided between offices for the local National Health Service Trusts and residential apartments.


Image:Saltaire Almshouses.jpgImage:Saltaire Building.JPGImage:Saltaire Salts Mill.jpg

Other model villages


  1. General information on the proposed bypass
  2. Google Maps with proposed tunnel and protected areas.
  3. Saltaire World Heritage Site in Danger, Sweeble, 20 Jun 2007.

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