Upcoming meetings and events

Thursday 5 September at 7.30 PM

Bradford Park Avenue cricket ground in 1926
In September we’ll be welcoming John Dewhirst as our speaker. John is a prolific researcher/author on sports history in Bradford/Airedale.

For those who can’t wait till September, take a look at the feast of Dewhirst articles to browse at https://johndewhirst.blog/features-about-bradford-sports-history/,

Also see VINCIT – an online journal focussed on Bradford’s sport history at https://bradfordsporthistory.com/

The meeting will take place at the Methodist Church lounge. The church fronts Saltaire Road BD18 3HJ. The lounge is at the rear.

Keep up to date with upcoming meetings

Information about upcoming meetings is available via Social Media and posters distributed locally. But the best way to hear about Club meetings and events is through our email newsletter which we send out a few times a year. You can view previous newsletters here.

It's easy to sign up and easy to unsubscribe at any time.

Read about our past meetings and events

Details of many of the Club's pre-2020 meetings can be found on the Saltaire Village website
Bradford Canal

6 June 2024 - Leeds and Liverpool canal

In 2024 it’s 250 years since the Five Rise locks at Bingley opened. So what better subject for our next, face-to-face quarterly meeting than our local canals?

Our guest speaker will be Colin Thunhurst, a fully paid-up expert on the Leeds Liverpool Canal and its little sister, the Bradford Canal. His topic:
It stank: but it brought Titus to Saltaire!
Drawing of an alpaca

Fireside chats - online research talks from January to April 2024

Colin Coate's talk on 25 January (see below) was the first of four monthly online 'fireside chats' where local historians tell us something about their research into Saltaire and share some tips about how to go about doing research and accessing a wide range of sources of information.

Each meeting was online using Zoom.

Here's what was covered:
  • 25 January - Saltaire Mills in the 1921 census
  • 13 February: Altiplano to Airedale (tracing alpaca wool from Peru to Saltaire)
  • 20 March: Land acquisitions of Titus Salt
  • 18 April: Saltaire’s hospital and almshouses

18 April 2024 - Saltaire's Hopsital and Almshouses

Our third fireside chat focused on SALTAIRE’S HOSPITAL AND ALMSHOUSES in the company of researcher Caroline Perry.
Saltaire is not the only model village in Britain – but you have to look long and hard to find another that boasts a hospital and houses for the elderly. Certainly among the pioneering models, Saltaire’s provision for the sick and infirm stands out, and it continued well into the NHS era!
You can read Caroline’s paper on her research so far using the link below.
Map showing Dixon's Mill

20 March 2024 - The land acquisitions of Titus Salt

Our March research 'fireside chat' was Ian Watson's work telling the tale of Saltaire’s location from the time Saltaire did not exist. It was moorland turned into productive farmland and Dixon Mill Lane led down to a weir on the Aire and to a fulling mill that used a waterwheel to harness that river’s power.

Ian’s The Land Acquisitions of Titus Salt is a gem of local history research. It’s the product of hard work in the West Yorkshire archives, revealing Salt’s purchases of more land than he needed, on both sides of the river.

Ian's research document is available from the Saltaire Collection website:

Download The land acquisitions of Titus Salt
Image of Ito Hirobumi

7 March 2024 - 1872: When samurai came to Saltaire

May we introduce Ito Hirobumi who visited Saltaire as part of the Iwakura Embassy in October 1872? This picture, of Ito the samurai, was taken 9 years earlier.

After returning home, Ito became Japan’s Prime Minister, not once but four times!

The extraordinary story of the Embassy was told by Les Brook at the Club meeting on 7 March.
You can read all about the Iwakura Embassy by downloading Les's account 
Download 1872: When samurai came to Saltaire


13 February 2024 - Steve Day: Altiplano to Airedale

Alpaca made Titus Salt’s fortune – but until Steve Day committed to his research, we knew next to nothing about how it got to Airedale and the consequences for indigenous Peruvians. Steve joined us by the online fireside to talk about his discoveries and the very varied sources he used to pursue his research.

You can download Steve’s two papers entitled Altiplano to Airedale parts 1 and 2 from the Club website:

Download Altiplano to Airedale: Introduction (PDF)

Download Altiplano to Airedale: Life on the Altiplano (PDF)
Phograph of Colin Coates

25 January 2024 - Colin Coates: Saltaire Mills in the 1921 Census

A local history legend and former Club chair, Colin did not leave Saltaire research behind when he left Britain for Australia 5 years ago. The internet saw to that.

And the internet was our saviour again, at 7.30pm on Thursday 25 January 2024 when Colin joi9ned us for a Zoom meeting. We’d asked him to talk about his approach to research and how he researches.

To make this concrete, he focused on SALTAIRE MILLS in the 1921 CENSUS – and there was an opportunity to fire questions directly at the man himself.

Colin's talk will be available on the Club's Youtube channel sometime in February - we'll add a link here when it's available.

7 December 2023 - Saltaire's houses: Built for 19th century workers...still fit to live in?

Our December Club meeting will be tackling today’s Saltaire housing issues at the same time as exploring the past. We’ll consider the problems of yesterday that Titus Salt set out to solve by creating a planned workers' village.

But we’re also going to confront the challenges of living in that same Victorian village today. Can Saltaire’s houses be made to work for residents in the C21st ? We’d love you to contribute to the debate.
Venue: Saltaire Methodist Church lounge. The church fronts Saltaire Road BD18 3HJ. The lounge is at the rear.
Part of front cover of A mansion for murder, by Frances Brody

7 September 2023 - Frances Brody: Where does history stop and fiction start?

Frances Brody, author of 13 Kate Shackleton mysteries, talked about her latest novel 'A mansion for murder'. It's set in Saltaire and features dark deeds at Milner Field, the home on the outskirts of Bingley that was built for Titus Junior and Catherine Salt.

Frances will talked about the tricky problem of writing historically-set fiction and having to pass from fact into fiction to tell a gripping story.

7 June - The closure of Salts Mill

Ian Beesley, one of Bradford’s finest photographers and honorary fellow of The Royal Photographic Society, showed The Closure of Salts Mill.

The photograph shows a machine being dismantled in Salts Mill in the mid-1980s. Used with permission and copyright Ian Beesley.

2 March 2023 - The Mechanic's Institute Movement and the Bradford Institute

Our speaker was Tricia Restorick, President of the Bradford Mechanics Institute, the first woman to become President in its 181-year history.

Mechanic's Institutes were everywhere in Victorian Britain – so where’s Saltaire’s? Well, Victoria Hall of course, formerly known as The Institute.

"There’s no of course about it!", says the Saltaire historian. "It was never a Mechanic's Institute".

Now there’s a challenging debate – which we asked Tricia to address whilst she’ll also be telling us about the role the mechanics institutes played.

The image is of the now demolished Bradford Mechanics Institute on Bridge Street, Bradford.

8 December 2022 - Voices from Saltaire's past

What better way to learn about Saltaire’s history than to listen to the people who were there?

So we invited several of them along to our December meeting where Henry Stolworthy was the  host.

Arriving in Bradford from Norfolk in 1839 at the age of 4, Henry and his family lived in this house next to Salt’s Hollings Mill in Goitside. Around 1854, the Stolworthys moved into one of the first of Saltaire’s houses. Henry spent decades working in Salts Mill and was superintendent of its fire brigade.

Henry has asked John Unwin to come along. John’s a private man but kept a diary of everyday life, so who better to tell us the price of bacon in 1894, or how much he gave the wife each payday?

Since they lived in Saltaire at much the same time, John might well have known the Kendall family. Maybe we’ll find out, because Harold Kendall will be with us. Harold became an overlooker at the mill – and to do that he had to study for several years at Saltaire’s Technical School. We’re expecting him to tell us what it was like.

Henry tells us there will be others… a woman from Italy who came to Salts soon after World War Two. And a chap who’s still alive!! He’s been invited because he saw and photographed one of Saltaire’s biggest milestones, the closure of Salts Mill.

15 September 2022 - The Saltaire Collection: past, present and future

To many Club old-timers, the Saltaire Collection is still the 'Saltaire Archive' – and the Learning Resource Centre (where we met on the 15th) is ‘the Library’.

But Lesson #1 is that history does not stand still!

What was a brave little archive will soon be a registered museum. Collection Trustee and Saltaire historian Maggie Smith told us how it all started and where her team is taking us.

And we did that literally next door to the maps, documents and images – a selection of which was a major feature of the evening.
Aerial view of Saltaire showing some allotments

6 July 2022 - Saltaire's allotments: a core feature of the model village

A small group of Club researchers has been working on the history of the village’s allotments – and their significance as part of a Victorian model village.

Club secretary Les Brook presented their findings which include:
  • The discovery of allotments now lost
  • A long-disappeared but substantial collection of piggeries
  • The theft of pigeons!
  • A Saltaire house you’ve never heard of
  • Fowls of the Sultan and Golden Spangled Hamburghs.
And history continues to be made – by Veg on the Edge and our Shipley Town Council which is now responsible for the allotments – so the audience heard about those developments too.

A paper on the history of the village allotments can be viewed and downloaded from our Research publications page.
Map of Saltaire

3 March 2022 - maps, maps, maps and more maps

Amongst the most valuable sources of historical information are maps.
And at the Club’s March meeting in March we were knee deep in them.
Three of the very best experts on local maps were with us – to let us into their cartographic historical discoveries and to show off a selection of their favourites. And the Saltaire Collection  added theirs too.


2 December 2021 - Model villages in Yorkshire: compare and contrast

Sheila Binns, author of "The Aesthetics of Utopia", and our very own Les Brook (standing-in for James Roberts) introduced us to four of West Yorkshire’s model villages, Akroydon, Copley, West Park and Ripleyville.

And we worked together to address the question:
What can we learn from comparing and contrasting these with Saltaire?

The audio recording of Les's talk is available on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/0PEcAf0lUJQ

11 November 2021 - A virtual future for heritage?

From TV programmes, you’ll be familiar with the remarkable technology that conjures up the faces of long-dead people, not least Richard III. The Visualising Heritage team in Bradford University’s School of Archaeological & Forensic Sciences is using equally cutting-edge technology to make a visual 3D record of Bradford city centre – and they’ve already applied it to buildings in Saltaire notably the United Reform Church.

Professor Andrew Wilson was with us via Zoom to open the door on how the technology of the future can illuminate the past.

The talk was recorded and is available on the Club's YouTube channel:

11 and 12 September 2021 - Celebrating Saltaire World Heritage Site’s 20th anniversary with a tour of the Dining Hall

During the 2021 Heritage Open days, the Club organised tours of the Dining Hall building in conjunction with the Saltaire Collection.

Today, the Dining Hall has become Shipley College’s ‘Mill Building’ but it retains many original features and has a terrific story to tell.

For many years before Saltaire’s other public buildings were built, the Dining Hall was also used as a school, a meeting place, library, reading room, a venue for religious services and numerous social events and political debates.

After changes to the building at the end of the 19th century, the Dining Hall’s new upper floor continued to provide social space for everything from boxing tournaments to flannel dances, and a buffet for the adjoining railway.

9 September 2021 - Should Salt return in triumph to the city centre?

Dr David Pendleton was our guest to discuss the arhitectural and locational history of the statue of Sir Titus Salt, currently in Lister Park, and also to consider the question of whether it should return to the centre of Bradford.

The recorded talk is available on the Club's YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/mew226fEGM8

May/June 2021 - Saltaire: Foundation and Legacy

Free exhibition celebrating Saltaire World Heritage Site's 20th anniversary

Drawing of Salts Mill from about 1920
20th anniversary logo
Through text and images, the exhibition told the story of Titus Salt, the founder of the village, and James Roberts, one of his successors as the owner of the mighty Salt's Mill. Without Roberts, the founder's legacy could easily have been lost.

We displayed unique artefacts and answered many questions form visitors. We also introduced visitors to the two brilliant industrial history sites that were given global recognition alongside Saltaire: New Lanark in Scotland and Derwent Valley in Derbyshire. Robert Owen? Richard Arkwright? Yes: the big names at those World Heritage sites.

And the exhibition concluded with a beautiful show of photographs on the theme 'International Saltaire'.

Organised by Saltaire History Club, Saltaire Inspired, and Saltaire Collection.

Thursday 3 June 2021 - The pub in Titus Salt's Bradford

Paul Jennings is the author of "The Local: A History Of The English Pub" and "Bradford Pubs" so who better to speak to us about The Pub in Titus Salt's Bradford?

Image credit: Bradford Local Studies

And just in case anyone thinks this a trivial topic, please note these facts – that in nineteenth century Bradford, pubs were frequently used by coroners to conduct inquests; that a Bradford directory of 1822 listed the “Inns houses [sic]" of the “Manufacturers attending the Piece Hall”; that Bradford’s beer houses were so notorious by mid-century that a man called Salt decided he’d do without one when he built a village for his workforce.

Thursday 4 March 2021 - The Crossleys of Dean Clogh, Halifax: A sister enterprise to Salts of Saltaire

Crossleys of Dean Clough talk advert
The President of the Halifax Antiquarians David Glover introduced us to the Crossleys and their close links to the Salts.

Thursday 25 February 2021- A second workshop on researching local history

Cover of Jubilee brochure
This second workshop was not a repeat of the first. There wasl an open session where we heard from you but the warm-up was in the hands of two experienced researchers giving a short and sweet rundown on their work.

Thursday 4 February 2021 - Workshop on researching local history

On Thursday 4 February in partnership with SWHEA/the Saltaire Collection, we ran our first (online) workshop on researching local history. We advertised it like this:
  • Want to hear who’s looking into what? This meeting’s for you.
  • Currently pursuing a project yourself? This meeting’s for you.
  • Would like to have a go at research? This meeting’s for you.
We lined up some experienced researchers and some first-timers to share their passions and problems.

An audio recording of the meeting is available in the Club's YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/fTwR4kLJ5Pk

December 10 2020 - Isabel Salt: two industrial dynasties, one independent woman

Local historian Pauline Ford talks about the fascinating life of the independent and adventurous Isabel Salt, daughter of Titus Salt Jnr. and his wife Catherine, a member of the famed Crossley family of carpet manufacturers from Halifax.

A recording of the meeting is available in the Club's YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/kUP1o2MGc1w

Or you can download a PowerPoint presentation with audio commentary from here:

Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/uc?export=download&id=17cfyoW75q7i_0F0l5MD5Zpual7444bK5

October 1 2020 - the Northcliffe Heritage Project

Noted local historian Derek Barker told us about a remarkable piece of research, the Northcliffe Heritage Project. Remarkable because it involves many people, has many strands – history, geology, ecology – and has been pursued over several years.

Derek has recorded his illustrated talk. You can view it in the Club's YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/wRbQYV2R7Ow

Or you can download a PowerPoint presentation with audio commentary from one of the following:(be warned - it's over 100Mb in size):

Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9o6q1u8x13m6po5/NHP%20Presentation%20Sound.pptx?dl=0

Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/file/d/154lYqYv0tr8LlopA3sssS8-Sds81zwD6/view

June 6 2019 - Saltaire: Set in stone - part 2 - who built Saltaire?

Les Brook followed up his talk on the stone used to build Saltaire (see below) with a presentation on some of the people responsible for turning the raw materials into the buildings of Saltaire and beyond. Les found folk of great importance to Saltaire, Shipley and Bradford, people with great skill who left a wonderful legacy of buildings – but who have been almost universally ignored by history

Download 'Set in stone part two - who built Saltaire?

December 7 2017 - Saltaire: Set in stone - part one

Back in 2017, current Club Chair Les Brook gave the first of two talks on a very solid topic - the stone used to build Saltaire. After more than 20 years of living in the village, Les is still impressed by the sheer enormity of Salts Mill. A colossal volume of stone must have been quarried just to build the Mill - but following that, so many public buildings and several hundred dwellings were added, all in stone. Les unearths some fascinating facts about where all of this stone came from.

Download 'Set in stone part one' (PDF) >