I am being kept occupied this summer driving my golf-mad son around to different courses where he has matches and competitions. This is how I found myself in Saltaire at 9am on a Monday in August!
I could have headed home but I haven’t visited Salts Mill for a few years and it’s always worth popping in to have a browse around the shops and look at the paintings and artworks by David Hockney and others. The mill doesn’t open until 10am so I found myself a lovely coffee shop and spent some time wandering around. It was a lovely morning and very quiet.
The Mill opened in 1853, built by Sir Titus Salt alongside the adjoining model village which was to house his workers. Production of cloth at Salts has not taken place since 1986 but, the following year, the mill was purchased by the late Jonathan Silver, who re-imagined it as a place where culture and commerce could thrive together.
In 2001, Saltaire became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO noted: “Saltaire is an outstanding and well preserved example of a mid 19th century industrial town… The layout and architecture of Saltaire admirably reflect mid 19th century philanthropic paternalism, as well as the important role played by the textile industry in economic and social development.”
If you are visiting for the first time, don’t use the side entrance as I did, make sure you go in through the new (since my last visit) main door where you will find information on what there is to see and where to find it as I did not find the signage around the place very clear. After I pleasant wander round the various shops I watched a film about the history of the building which I found very interesting even though I have been on 2 excellent guided tours of the village in the past (school trips with my boys when at Primary school).
Finally, I visited the 3rd floor. First of all I spotted some wool in the gallery called People and Process: a History of Salts. People and Process tells the story of the Mill through objects great and small: machinery, clothing, art – even a precious plate from the lavish opening banquet of 1853, to which Sir Titus Salt invited 2,440 workers and 1,310 guests.
There was also an exhibition called ‘The Arrival of Spring’ by David Hockney. This set of 49 original works were drawn by David on his iPad in 2011, and printed at an incredible scale. This was so inspiring, I really like the idea of a study like this which gives the opportunity to really look and be amazed at the little things you might have otherwise missed. Well worth a visit!