For another in our series of the ’7 man made wonders of Yorkshire’ we float between the river Aire and the Leeds Liverpool canal. Beside the River Aire is one half of the enormous edifice of Salt’s Mill at Saltaire and 100 yards away across the Leeds Liverpool canal sits the other more significant half of the former Victorian Mill.
Facts about the Old Salts Mill
It was built in 1853 by Titus Salt hence the name! It formed part of a groundbreaking model village which included houses, churches, meeting halls and other community buildings but no public houses or licensed premises. Titus Salt and his Mill provided better working conditions for mill employees than most other textile factories and he was an exemplar of the paternal Victorian mill owner.
When it was first built it was Europe’s largest factory employing 3000 workers. One of its largest rooms was on the sixth floor and it even has stone flagged flooring. Measuring 600 feet in length, the room, known as The Shed, was where hundreds of workers turned out miles of cloth each day on large weaving machines.
Modern Uses of Salts Mill
The Mill by the river was converted into a large office block for NHS North Bradford Primary Care Trust marketing and administration – well why use a hospital as a base.
After the textile industry declined the Mill became redundant by the 1980s. Pace electronics built a good electronics business in the mill at Saltaire. The largest part of the mill complex was bought by the late Jonathan Silver and his vision saw it transform into a cultural and commercial complex. There are several shopping zones and even a place for Early Musical instruments but the major coup was setting up the 1853 Gallery and capturing the work and imaginbation in the David Hockney Gallery.