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Titus Salt Junior, 1843-1887

Titus Salt Jnr. was the fifth and youngest son of Sir Titus Salt and was aged only 10 years when Salts Mill opened in 1853. As he came to maturity, he was generally regarded as being the son who was the most likely to inherit his father’s business acumen and to take on a similar role in political and public life. Titus Jnr. married Catherine Crossley, daughter of the wealthy Halifax carpet manufacturer, Joseph Crossley, in 1866. They honeymooned in Venice and Switzerland and initially lived at Baildon Lodge. Within a year of their marriage Titus Junior purchased 161 acres of rich arable pasture together with an old mansion house, two farm houses, a coach house and stables, collectively known known as the Milner Field Estate. Situated on a hill above Saltaire in Gilstead, Bingley, it was a short carriage ride’s distance from the Mill.

The old mansion on the estate was pulled down and Titus Jnr. commissioned a little-known architect, Thomas Harris, to design a grand new house that was completely different in design to the Italianate style of Salts Mill and Saltaire.  When the extensive new house was completed its interior was as grand as its exterior. Extensive conservatories had been constructed, large landscaped and kitchen gardens and a model farm were established, and a boating lake was well stocked with trout. A coach road was established to create ready access to Saltaire and the mill. The couple had four children, Gordon Locksley Salt (b. 1866); Harold Crossley Salt (b. 1868); Lawrence Titus Whitlam Salt (b. 1874) and Mary Isabel Salt (b. 1876)

Titus Jnr. entered the family firm in 1863 aged twenty years and within two years of his involvement his eldest brother, William Henry and a non-family partner, William Evans Glyde, had retired from the business. George and Edward Salt remained in the family firm, but their sibling Herbert Salt never entered the business and was a farmer for most of his long life. It was to be Titus Salt Jnr. who entered fully into the public life of the local area and who played a major part in the final stages of the development of Saltaire and its public amenities.

As early as July 1865, Titus Jnr. was reported as donating money to the foundation and building of the Northern Counties Asylum and he rapidly extended his political, charitable and public profile. In 1867 he was appointed as a trustee of the Bradford Infirmary and Dispensary fund; donated money for the proposed Bradford Fever Hospital; was appointed a vice president of the Royal Albert Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles of the Northern Counties; contributed money to a new lifeboat station in Milford Haven and was recorded as attending several meetings of the local Liberal Party. He went on to be elected as a Bradford Town Councillor (East Ward), to chair for many years, the Shipley Schools Board, to attend a large amount of Bradford Council  sub-committee meetings and to initiate many social events and some technical experiments in Saltaire Village of which the best know are probably the establishment of an annual three day Conversazione and ‘magic lantern’ shows for the public within the Saltaire Club and Institute and his experiments with telephone communications between Milner Field and Salts Mill and, later, between Milner Field and Halifax were recorded with great excitement.

In 1868, the new ‘Salt Schools’ for children aged 8 to 13 years were completed half way up Victoria Road with extensive external grounds. These schools could accommodate 750 children. At the same time, building work began on a grand new building across the road that was named ‘the Saltaire Club and Institute’ (known today as Victoria Hall). In Titus Salt Jnr’s printed circular addressed to the people of Saltaire in May 1870, he explained that his father’s purpose in creating this multi-purpose building was to provide a ‘social club and an educational institute to supply the advantages of a public house without its evils and that the provisions of the Saltaire Institute were to be for innocent and intelligent recreation  including a reading room; a library; a chess and draughts room; a smoking room; a billiard room; a bagatelle room; a lecture hall seating 600 people; lecture theatres for 150 people; a science laboratory; a school of Art; various classrooms; a curator’s house; a gymnasium and rifle drill rooms’.

Titus Jnr. was passionate and vociferous in his work to re-organise the new Salt schools and  ensured some additional ‘day’ school provision and ‘post 13 years’ night school facilities in the Institute. He recognised the need to provide elementary education for infants and children under 9 years of age and argued the case for a Shipley Schools Board which was established in 1874 with himself as Chairman. With his wife Catherine he promoted the Kindergarten method of education for young children initiated by Friedrich Froebel, a German pedagogue – a method that was to become widespread practice in English schools. A lecture he organised on the Kindergarten method was held in December 1877 in Victoria Hall and the New Albert Road School opened with 815 scholars on Monday 28 January 1878.

In October 1886 Titus Jnr. proposed a plan to ‘raise a memorial to his father’ by building a new School of Art and Science to be erected on land behind the Institute), simultaneously proposing an International Exhibition at Saltaire to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887. He announced that the new building would be designed by Messrs. Lockwood and Mawson in the Italianate Style, that it would house fourteen large classrooms, have a central museum hall, with the dimensions 70 foot by 40 feet, and a gallery running all around this. The ticket sales from the Exhibition, to run from May to October 1887, were to help defray the building costs together with public subscriptions.   

Titus Jnr, as chair of the Jubilee Exhibition Committee met Aldermen and gentlemen in the Mayor’s parlour, Bradford Town Hall, in January 1887 to further the plans for the exhibition and for the reception of royal visitors who he had arranged to attend and perform the inauguration ceremony for the ‘New School of Art and Science’ and the opening ceremony for the Royal Yorkshire Jubilee Exhibition. The royal visitors were Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter Beatrice and her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg, who were to be guests of Titus Junior and his wife Catherine at Milner Field, arriving on May 5, 1887. The building of the extensive new school was achieved by April 1887.

Sadly, in the event, the Royal Exhibition ticket sales and subscriptions did not cover the cost of the new School of Art and Science. Titus Jnr. must have been very aware of the financial problems his efforts resulted in for the Saltaire schools, in which he had invested so much of his time and energy. On 18 November 1887 he was due to preside over a meeting of the ‘executive committee for the exhibition’ at Salts Mill in the afternoon but at 12 noon, ‘due to feeling indisposed’, he sent his apologies for not being able to attend and he left for home, Milner Field, at 12.30 where he had lunch, took a walk around the grounds and returned to the house at 3.45 pm. According to reports at the time, he entered the smoking room to rest himself but was ‘taken immediately worse’ and his butler summoned Mrs. Salt, but when she reached her husband’s side, he was unconscious and very shortly afterwards died.

The obituaries for Titus Salt Jnr. were long and praiseworthy. He was noted as having ‘inherited much of that business acumen and enterprise so conspicuously displayed by his father’ and he is perceived as pursuing his father’s goals to promote the social and intellectual well-being of the people ‘amongst whom he lived’. He was praised for his establishment of a fine group of Saltaire schools and for supporting the innovative methods of education established in the ‘Albert Road Board School’ (now Saltaire Primary School). The ‘New School of Art and Science’ (now known as Exhibition Building and the home of Shipley College) is much more his legacy than that of his father, Sir Titus Salt, and he should be remembered with great affection at the very least for the exemplary work he did to establish education in the model village for all age groups of learners.

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