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The village of Saltaire can be found near Bradford in Yorkshire England. It was created by Sir Titus Salt (to which he and the river Aire which run though it give it the name) in the mid 19th century.

Saltaire was built between 1851 and 1872 to provide the workers in his mill with decent housing and other amenities such as a hospital, school, and wash houses.

Titus Salt was a pretty decent bloke and really looked after his workers – even in old age and sickness. He has been named as one of the greatest Victorian philanthropists. Some big businesses today should learn some lessons from him.

Saltaire was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and recognised as ”one of the earliest, largest and  best preserved nineteenth century ‘model villages’ anywhere in the world.” (Discover Saltaire)

If you are looking for things to do in Saltaire to better plan your day then read on!

 

things to do in Saltaire
Saltaire information board

Things to do in Saltaire


The Heritage Trail in Saltaire


Our first stop was the Visitor Information Centre to find out about things to do in Saltaire. As we soon discovered there was a lot to see and do on our visit. We picked up a map of the Heritage Trail which takes you through the village to points of interest as you stroll. I purchased the official guide for £1.50 which gives lots of great information to read as you take the trail.

I highly recommend that you take the trail as it was really interesting and you learn a lot about life for ordinary people in 19th century England. (Or those lucky enough to work for Salt as the lives of workers in other areas was not necessarily as good as those in Saltaire)

In the village of Saltaire you will also see lots of beautiful buildings built in the 19th century – from the huge Mill to the almshouses these buildings give a great insight into life in Saltaire in the 1800’s. The village was designed by local architects Lockwood and Mason who designed houses far superior than was the norm for workers at that time (for example they had gas/water/separate kitchens and outside toilets and some even had gardens). The Saltaire United Reformed Church designed by the pair is now a grade 1 listed building.

It is also worth remembering that these houses are lived in – as it states in the official trail booklet “Saltaire is a community and not a museum” so please respect their privacy.

Tip – check out the street names!

 

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Explore Salt Mills


The Salt Mills were opened by Titus Salt in 1853 and some 3000 workers were producing up to 30,000 yards of cloth a day (Saltaire Trail).

In 1987 the now empty and silent mill was bought by Jonathan Silver, an entrepreneur who created the 1853 gallery. The gallery exhibited works by local artists including David Hockney who is from nearby Bradford and was the beginning of the regeneration of the area. The Mill still holds one of the  largest collections of Hockneys in the world.

There is loads to see in the Mill – a lot of art from Hockney to enjoy, shops to peruse and a number of places to stop off for a drink/sandwich or a meal. (And the serviette in Salts Diner has the best logo ever – designed by Hockney!!)

 

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How to get to Saltaire


We caught the train to Saltaire as it has its own station and I would highly recommend this option. There are regular train services from Bradford and Leeds and the train station is opposite the mill! Easy! Saltaire has limited  parking and using public transport is a more sustainable way to protect the local environment and lessens the impact of tourism on those who live in the village.

Saltaire is built next to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and is an excellent place for a stroll or a hike for those more serious walkers.

things to do in Saltaire - a canal boat

The Mill is open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. For more information check out the Saltaire Village website here!

 

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Want to know more about the history of Saltaire?


This wonderful new book by local author Malcolm Hitt and local historian Gary Firth, takes a comparative peep into how Titus Salt’s model industrial village has changed since acquiring the status of a World Heritage site. Images are brought together to compare and contrast changing modes of transport, employment, fashion, retailing and leisure as well as showing change from Victorian times to the new millennium in the housing and public buildings of Saltaire’s historic core. The past and present photographs of Saltaire in this book are due largely to the dynamism and entrepreneurial vision shared by both Salt and Silver in this beautiful and ordered model village. One found it, the other has helped to preserve it. Saltaire Through Time will bring back fond memories of yesteryear for residents new and old, and for all those who love to visit this part of Yorkshire.

This ground-breaking study analyses the building of Saltaire, the famous model town in West Yorkshire. Now a World Heritage Site, it was designed to provide mill-workers housing and is a superb example of enlightened urban planning, created during a 24-year building programme. The authors follow its development through seven building phases and sixteen building contracts, explaining the principles which guided the urban layout and the various house designs. By comparing Saltaire with earlier factory towns and considering its 19th-century architectural context, they describe the design decisions taken and the implications of those choices. They reveal for the first time that the hierarchies apparent in the architecture were the result of the design process and should not be seen as a reflection of the town’s social structure.


Hotels Saltaire  – where to stay


Why not book a night or two in Saltaire and explore the area?

Booking.com


UNESCO World Heritage Site


As I have mentioned Saltiare is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To find out more about its inscription visit the UNESCO listing here!

There are lots of fantastic UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit in the UK. Bath is a UK city which has UNESCO World Heritage status. If you are planning to visit there are 8 things to do in Bath which you may enjoy!

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Pin for later – Things to do in Saltaire
Saltaire Saltaire

 

Author: Tracy

Over the last 50 years I have lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to many more. I enjoy exploring and learning about new places and meeting people on my travels. History, reading, photography, nature and wildlife are my interests and I am ALWAYS researching and planning my next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, I share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help YOU travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!

This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

55 thoughts on “A guide of things to do in Saltaire

  1. Katie says:

    Ok I will be honest, I had never heard of Saltaire before but it looks like such a cute little village! The brick homes and unified streets are so photogenic – I can’t help but fall in love with victorian villages like this. Love that you have included a book to read about Saltaire too!

  2. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid says:

    Your post is perfectly timed because I’m reading Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” where he travels around the UK and he too visited Saltaire. The book is quite hilarious and has me laughing out loud. I had never heard of Saltaire until I read the book and now, your blog post. I heard that Salt was quite the puritan and there were no pubs or alcohol in Saltaire but I guess a conservative lifestyle was a fair trade off for being well looked after for many of his workers. I was so excited to see David Hockney’s work in the museum, we just saw his exhibition in Melbourne and it was fabulous!

    • Tracy Collins says:

      I am reading the next book by Bryson The Road to Little Dribbling – also hilarious! Saltaire is a fantastic place to visit and the Hockney’s are a great bonus! He is from Bradford and I believe has a great relationship with Saltaire – he designed the napkin in the restaurant! I was too excited to use it lol! Even better as it has a sausage dog on it and we have one!

  3. Rhonda Albom says:

    I have not heard of Saltaire before today, although I have been to most of the other UNESCO sites on your list (Fountains Abbey being my favourite). Saltaire is charming. 30K yards of fabric a day sounds like quite a bit for the mid-1800s. Impressive.

  4. Jim ~ Reflections Enroute says:

    We will always find the UNESCO sites to visit whenever we go somewhere new. We haven’t been to Saltaire yet, but I love the idea of turning the old mill into an art gallery. Thanks for the inspiration; see you next week! #wkendtravelinspiration

  5. Ruth says:

    First time I hear about this village but it is incredible to see what Sir Titus Salt created for his employees. Like you mentioned, some modern day employers should take notice (sometimes feels like we are moving backwards on certain things). #MondayEscapes

  6. Sarah Christie says:

    It looks so incredible I would love to visit and it isn’t to far from us, I love all the beautiful historic buildings, and the history is so interesting, what a great man to take such care of his workers when so many didn’t. Thanks os much for linking up #MondayEscapes

  7. chickenruby says:

    I stumbled across Saltaire a few years a go when I stayed in a B&B in Bradford, I was surprised that people were still living in the houses and I really enjoyed exploring a couple of the charity shops and taking a walk along the canal

  8. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says:

    Really interesting post! I’ve just reprimanded my hubby for never mentioning it to me (him being a Yorkshire man and all). I’ll have to check it out next time we head up north. Thanks for linking #citytripping

  9. Dave - Man Vs. Globe says:

    I love Saltaire – It is beautiful in summer when you can lounge in Robert’s Park and watch the cricket or drink by the river! I haven’t been for a while but this post is making me want to visit again (I live very close by in Leeds!) #citytripping

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