Saltaire

1 Why was Saltaire built? (10)

Living conditions in industrial towns at this time were really outrageous for many, and disease was able to spread swiftly in the unsanitary, unhealthy conditions which were a common characteristic of many of the industrial towns of this era. Cholera outbreaks in 1832 and 1844 killed many and reflected a disregard for the laws of health and cleanliness. Work conditions at this time were also poor.

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Thousands of children from seven to fourteen years were compulsory to work from six o’clock in the morning to seven o’clock in the evening with no more than a half an hour break. Machines were also sometimes hazardous so workers could get injured or even die. Wages were so poor in mills that workers could just afford to pay the rent on their accommodation leaving them with barely anything else for other necessities. A classic example of a industrial city with pitiable surroundings in this period was Bradford in the North of England.

One man who wanted to bring to an end all these conditions was Titus Salt who was born in 1803 and raised up in Bradford. Titus was the eldest of seven children. Titus had at one time thought of becoming a doctor however changed his mind after leaving school and went to work in Wakefield, working with a wool stapler. The Salt family moved to Bradford in 1822 to start work in a wool stapling business. Here Titus worked with a company called Rouse & Son. Their motto was ‘Those who have helped us to get money shall help us to enjoy it.’ Titus would adopt this attitude when he opened Saltaire later in his life. He cared about his workers and wanted them to make some money as well as himself earning some as well He worked with this firm for two years acquiring knowledge of all aspects of the wool sorting trade and shortly after these two years he returned to his father’s business.

Even before building Saltaire, Titus was already a rich man. Most of his wealth had been made by developing the famous alpaca wool. Every fashion house wanted alpaca because it was a cheaper than silk but still as durable. Titus’ other successes included being appointed to Public Office, becoming a magistrate, being a Commissioner of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant of the County and finally in 1848 becoming Mayor of Bradford. These appointments were significant in Titus’ decision to build Saltaire as he realised that the working class were treated poorly, they were underpaid for many hours of hard work, they had very poor and expensive housing and that people would spend the money on alcohol which made Titus angry as people did not mind living in their own filth.

Saltaire was a mill and modern village which was built by Titus. It was finally completed on 20th September 1853 nearly three years after the starting date. The village would accommodate all his workers and he did not charge much rent so this made him popular with all the workers. An advantage of the village would be that workers lived close to their work place which meant it was easier for them to get there and it would not take as long as well. Saltaire’s location was in Shipley which had its advantages such as having railway links, a canal and roads which could be used to import and export goods, get workers in and out of the village and the canal could also have been used to bring in coal and other raw materials.

Another key decision to build Saltaire was that a Welshman called Robert Owen had built a similar model village near Glasgow and that was a successful development producing a 46% profit capital. Robert was a Victorian Industrialist who as well as wanting to make a profit also wanted to do good for his workers. Like Salt, Robert Owen realised that the living and working conditions in the town centres were horrendous and workers were idle, lived in poverty and the town had a high crime rate. When he moved his factory to outside Glasgow all the conditions changed. As Salt would do, Robert Owen he built an institute and persuaded his workers to come to evening classes to learn skills and about well being as well as other things. Robert believed that if he treated his workers this well they would become more productive and therefore produce more profits.

The Saltaire mill was built in Shipley because it had advantages such as having a railway, canal and road which could be used to import and export goods as well as getting people in and out of the village. The canal could also have been used to bring in coal supply. Titus wanted to build Saltaire in the location where it was because the workers would be healthier because of the cleaner air, they would be happier because they had good and affordable accommodation in the village which meant they would not have to pay a lot to travel work, they would be always sober on the job because there were no public houses in the village.

All these reasons above would result in the workforce being more productive which would mean they make more items and get Titus more profits. Another reason why Saltaire was built was because if Salt made one large mill instead of having 5 smaller mills it would mean he would only have to pay for one set of bills instead of five which would reduce tax bill. As Salt was Mayor of Bradford earlier he saw how drunkenness, filth and poverty could effect their lives. He didn’t want this to happen to his workers so he banned pubs in his village and he provided them with free housing so they didn’t live on the street and get diseases. Salt was like a paternal figure for his workers as he looked after them and treated them fairly.

2 What does the range of streets and building in Saltaire tell us about Salt’s values and beliefs? (10)

The range of streets tells us a lot about Salt’s beliefs. He built many buildings and landmarks which were built as rewards to the workers. These include the Institute which was used for evening classes for the workers to learn new skills and learn other things. Like Robert Owen, Salt wanted an intelligent and skilled workforce who used all their acquired knowledge during work. In the institute workers could also play billiards and there was a gym as well. Salt also built a Park for the workers for all the hard work they put in the factory.

Salt believed his workforce should always be healthy so he built hospitals to help workers when they were ill, he built bathhouses and washhouses to keep the workers clean and hygienic. There were also many toilets which were not that common during this era. Salt wanted to get rid of the waste instead of letting it into the air. The chimney in the mill was built 250 feet high so all the pollution was taken away from the village instead of letting it harm his own workforce.

Titus also trusted his workers to be law abiding. This is known because there was no police station in the village which could have been a great risk but fortunately for him there were no problems. Salt also wanted a sober workforce as he built no pubs in the village and he prohibited drinking. Titus was a religious man and wanted his workers to follow his example so he built a church for the workers to go to. It was a beautiful Italianate Church, it was very well built and crafted which cost a lot but this was not an issue to Salt as he thought it was really important.

There was a social hierarchy which in the village. The people with better jobs would have bigger houses than the people with the less important jobs. The streets were divided, at each end there were three storey houses and between the two ends there were two storey houses. Also the social hierarchy can be proved to be important in the village as many street names were named after royalty, his family and other important people.

Salt also believed in self improvement and self discipline. No pubs were a part of self improvement as the workers were always sober which meant they could always concentrate on their work fully. There were night schools in the institute for adults which meant they could educate themselves into better living standards and learn other skills to help them in life. There was also the church which helped the workers go to there and pray and confess their sins. The layout of the village was presented in a neat and orderly fashion just like Salt wanted his workers to be.

3 Do you think Saltaire was a substantial achievement? (5)

I think Saltaire was a substantial achievement for a number of reasons. It was one of the most important mills and village in the world at the time and it was proved when it was named as a world heritage site. Another key factor in my decision is that it is still here today. We are lucky however as it looked as if it would be destroyed as it was not kept up with and funded until 1987 when a man called Jonathan Silver bought it for an estimated £1,000,000. He restored parts of the village and his childhood friend and artist David Hockney added a gallery to the village.

Now there are full time restorations going on throughout the village which means people must still want it there. I also think it is a great achievement because since Saltaire there have been many model villages e.g. Bournville. The village has changed with the times but the actual layout of the village has not so people believe it should be kept like when it was first built. It must be a very important achievement because many tourists visit the village every year and buy gifts from the souvenir shops so they will never forget the great feat. The village also won the Europe Nostra award in 1996. However today’s generations are not that impressed by the great work by Salt as there is now graffiti and vandalism in the village.

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