Salts Mill is a Victorian textile mill that was opened in 1853 by the manufacturer Titus Salt. He pioneered the spinning and weaving of alpaca wool. His works were in the city of Bradford and he decided to build a mill that was large enough to hold all his textile manufacturing processes in one place. The outcome of this was not only Salts Mill but the now named model village of Saltaire that is 5 miles from central Bradford. Between the River Aire and the canal and next to the railway line it was an ideal site. He not only built the mill but also neat stone houses for his workers (much better than the slums of Bradford), wash-houses with tap water, bath-houses, a hospital, a church and an institute for recreation and education, with a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and a gymnasium. In addition to these, the village also had a school for the workers’ children, a park and a boathouse. One notable omission to these amenities was a pub. The whole site is a superb example of Italianate architecture that was created a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. It is now a highly sought after address and those little stone houses fetch a premium price.
Textile manufacturing ceased at the mill in 1986. The following year another visionary, Jonathon Silver bought the Mill with a view of it providing a venue for art, culture and commerce. One of the main attractions still there is the 1853 gallery that displays paintings, etchings and other art works by the Bradford born artist David Hockney. The gallery also has a wide range of art materials and books for sale. It is a delight. It is one of those spaces that leaves you feeling full of inspiration, wonder and enthusiasm. I first visited in the 1990s and have never tired of it.
On the second floor is a book shop. I say a bookshop but it is nothing like a high street shop. Both this and the 1853 gallery are in former mill spaces and so are huge. I mean really hugely huge. Great tall windows and high lofty ceilings, lots and lots of space and usually a baroque musical background ensures that you know you are in a space to encourage thinking. If that sounds a bit over the top and pretentious, I make no apologies. It is a place that fills me with joy.
There are much smaller shops within the complex as well as a diner and cafe, office space and a variety of temporary exhibitions and events. If you even visit West Yorkshire and have any interest in art, or books, or just need a feel good injection of wellbeing, I strongly recommend a visit.
If you are not fortunate enough to get there in person, they also have an online shop.