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For researchers

Many different stories to research

Our Collection may not be large, but it has a wide range of items that have many interesting stories to research on the industrial, social and personal histories of Saltaire.

We have photographs, business and legal documents, business and personal letters, maps, plans, newscuttings, posters, signs, and an eclectic collection of objects that help reveal the stories of Salts Mill and its workers, and of the village and residents of Saltaire.

We can support your research through arranging visits to the Collection, through our online catalogue, and by providing targeted assistance and guidance.

Collection resources

Types of item include:

  • Photographs from the earliest days of Saltaire including scenes inside Salts Mill, in the village and the surrounding area, and of associated people and events
  • Business documents
  • Legal documents including wills, tenancies. mortgages, property sales
  • Maps and plans of Saltaire, the surrounding area, and some buildings
  • Posters and signs for marketing, instructional and educational purposes
  • Newscuttings on many subjects, some compiled recently, but others compiled at the time by the likes of Sir James Roberts
  • Business and personal letters, including correspondence from the Salt and Roberts families
  • Personal diaries, including those of Isabel Salt and Sir James Roberts
  • Personal and family items including medals, Isabel Salt’s childhood clothing, and crockery used to serve royalty
  • And lots more…

Main subject themes include:

  • Work and industry, mainly concerning over 130 years of textile production at Salts Mill but also including real estate dealings, overseas enterprises and post-textiles business in Saltaire
  • Education in Saltaire, from the earliest Factory School in the 1850s up to Shipley College of today
  • Leisure in Saltaire including sport, social events, societies, public performances
  • Personal memories of residents of Saltaire, workers and managers from Salts Mill, and foreign migrants who came to work in the textile industry

All items in the Saltaire Collection are being catalogued to museum standards. The vast majority of our items have at least a basic record in our online catalogue.

The catalogue can be explored online in several ways:

View the catalogue

Some of our items have been digitised and can be seen in the online catalogue. We have an active digitisation programme and more items are being added all the time.

You can arrange to visit the Collection to view items. Please see our visitor page for more information on how to arrange a visit.

If you cannot visit and the item you are interested in is not already available in digital format on the catalogue, then please contact us – we may be able to digitise the item or make it available to you in a different way.

Yes! There are several reasons why some items may not be available, including:

  • They may be embargoed to a certain date or have some other form of restriction as a condition of their deposit into the Collection
  • They may be on loan to another organisation
  • They may be on display as part of an exhibition
  • They may be too fragile to handle or undergoing conservation measures

Where possible (excluding the embargoed items), we try to make copies of items that are not themselves available, so you may be able to view these.

If you’re not sure that the Saltaire Collection has what you need, or you’ve tried searching the catalogue but couldn’t find what you were looking for (or found too much), or have questions about where to start your research, or how to deepen your research, or anything else – then please get in touch:

Contact us

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Personal stories
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Examples of local history research

The Saltaire Collection has many items of research donated by local historians, ranging from raw and analysed data through research notes to finished articles and papers. Some examples are given below.

We have an active, collaborative and friendly writers group that helps research and other uses of the Collection. Further details are available on our get involved page.

F1-173a: The Ricciardo sisters

Personal memories

Read the fascinating stories of residents, workers and migrants in their own words, as captured and transcribed by Maggie Smith

The history of Pace

Travel through a timeline presenting Mike Farren’s story of Pace, a leading British technology company based in Salts Mill after textile production had ended

Saltaire Overlookers

Find out about the role of overlookers in Salts Mill, especially in spinning and weaving, as recounted by Roger Clarke

Sir Titus Salt's Hospital

Walk through the interactive timeline displaying Caroline Perry’s research on Saltaire’s own hospital, in service for over 100 years

Timelines and census data

Explore the data gathered by Colin Coates from the census, newspapers, and other sources which covers residents, workers, influential people and the buildings of Saltaire

Land acquisitions of Titus Salt

Discover the complicated story of the 14 pieces of land purchased by Titus Salt in Shipley and Baildon over several decades as uncoverd by Ian Watson

Useful background information

Some useful books that provide background material for research are:

Balgarnie’s Salt, 2003, Rev. Robert Balgarnie, with commentary and additions by Barlo and Shaw, Nemine Juvante (Saltaire) Publications.

Salts Mill: Owners and Managers: 1853-1986, 2016, Smith & Coates, Amberley Publishing.

Salt & Silver: A Story of Hope, 1997, J. Greenhalf, Salts Mill Estates Ltd.

Sir Titus Salt and Sons, A Farming Legacy, 2017, A Cattell,

Milner Field: The Lost Country House of Titus Salt Jnr, 2013, Richard Lee  Van Den Daele and R David Beale, Barleybrook Ltd.

Other collections and resources

Much more information on Salts Mill and Saltaire is available in other museum and archival collections, including:

Many of the official records of the companies that owned and ran Salts Mill and Saltaire are deposited in the West Yorkshire Archive.

The service has 5 district offices: Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. Their searchable on-line catalogue allows a researcher to look for documents that can add much detail to any Saltaire related topic. Arrangements to view archive materials can be made by email or telephone.

Website address:

Telephone: 0113 535 0152 (for Bradford)


The museum is part of the Bradford Museums and Galleries Service, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and is THE place to visit to see textile machinery and get the sense of a working textile mill. This museum also holds superb collections that are relevant to Saltaire.

Arrangements to view items or enquire about what is held can be made by email or telephone.

Website address:

Telephone: 01274 435900


This archive holds an extensive archive of textiles and related materials including fine silk jacquards, rayon, velvets, mohair and woollens and worsteds dating back from over the last 150 years.

Bradford College played a key role in the education of textile workers in the nineteenth century. The Archive has an extraordinary range of work done by students and teachers: pattern books, designs, samples and more. The Archive is custodian of the archives of the Society of Dyers and Colourists. It offers visits, talks and workshops.

To contact the Archive:


Telephone. 01274 433257

The purpose of the archive is to collect, preserve and document textiles and other related items from many of the textile producing areas of the world for the benefit of scholars, researchers and the public. The Collection is part of the University Library’s Special Collections, which has a huge range of archives and rare books accessible to the public (including archives focusing on the Textile industry and on Yorkshire).

International Textile Collection website:

Visiting Special Collections:

You may also be interested in

Explore the Collection

Search and browse the online catalogue of over 6000 items to discover objects of interest

Collection Themes

Discover the main subjects in our Collection and explore them using our online catalogue

Visit us

Find out about visiting the Collection including details on where we are located and how to get to Saltaire

Story of Saltaire

View our histories of Saltaire, travel through our timelines, and read the biographies and personal memories of some of the people who built, worked in, lived in, and saved Saltaire