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Heritage Trail

Explore Saltaire with our heritage trails

Over 150 years ago, Titus Salt began the incredible task of building a new village for all the people who worked for him, complete with all the amenities they needed.

Saltaire is one of the best preserved industrial model villages in the world with 96% of its building undamaged. Follow our Heritage Trail to discover more about the history of the village, its buildings and amenities. Or download a child-friendly trail for younger children.

Map of the Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail map

Follow the Heritage Trail

Saltaire Railway Station looking towards Salts Mill, 2022

1. Railway station

New station as it appears in 2022

The tour starts at Saltaire railway station.

The station is located towards the bottom of Victoria Road, the main road running downhill through Saltaire. Walking downhill, the station is on the left, just below the row of shops and before you reach the United Reformed Church.

Railway station

C2b-091: Saltaire Railway Station with steam train, 1909

The railway station in Saltaire was opened in 1856 by the Midland Railway.

The existing railway and the nearby canal were important factors in Titus Salt’s decision to build his model village on this site.

The station closed in 1965 following the Beeching Cuts, a series of closures as part of an overall strategy for reshaping the railways.

The original stone buildings that stood on each platform were demolished in 1970. New wooden and stone structures were built when the station reopened in 1984.

Today, the station lies on the Northern Line and has services to Leeds, Bradford and Skipton.

Explore the Collection for items related to the railway station.

Shipley College Mill Building (was the Dining Hall) 2019

2. The Mill Building

Part of Shipley College in 2019

From the railway station, continue down Victoria Road a short distance. The Mill Building is on the left.

Dining Hall

B1-032/5/12: Salts Mill Dining Hall in 1920s

The Mill Building started life as the Salts Mill Dining Hall. It was the very first public building in Saltaire, completed in 1854.

The Dining Hall served many purposes during the early years of Saltaire. In addition to serving 600 breakfasts and 700 dinners every day, it doubled as a school for ‘half-timers’, children who would work in the mill during the morning, then attend school in the afternoon. It was also a meeting hall, library, reading room and a venue for religious services.

As Saltaire grew, these functions were provided by the purpose-built Salt Schools, the Institute, the Congregational Church and the Methodist Chapel, all of which you can see on this tour.

Today, the Dining Hall is owned by Shipley College and is known as the Mill Building. A major refurbishment and conversion in 1998 modified the interior to make it suitable for lessons, but the changes are entirely reversible.

Read more about the Dining Hall on our Buildings page.

Explore our Collection for items related to the Dining Hall.

United Reformed Church, 2022

3. United Reformed Church

The church in 2022

From the Mill Building continue down Victoria Road for about 50 metres.

The United Reformed Church is on your left, set back in its own grounds.

Congregational Church

C2b-146: Saltaire Congregational Church 1874

Titus Salt was a devout Congregationalist. The Congregational Church (now the United Reformed Church) was built in 1859 with £16000 of Salt’s personal fortune (around £1.4 million today). The church stands in its own grounds with a small churchyard.

Like the rest of the village, the church was constructed in Italianate style, with fluted columns, tower and scagliola pillars (imitation marble). Two ornate chandeliers of cut glass were suspended from the ceiling, requiring roof trusses to be added at a later date to support the weight.

To the North side of the church is the Salt family mausoleum, where Sir Titus, his wife Caroline and several other members of the Salt family were buried. Following the World War One, a memorial was erected in the church grounds to commemorate those from Saltaire who lost their lives.

Read more about the Congregational Church

Explore the Collection for items related to the Congregational Church (United Reformed Church)

Boathouse Inn 2019

4. Boathouse Inn

Boathouse Inn in 2020

From the United Reformed Church, continue to the bottom of Victoria Road.

Turn left and go down the short slope. At the bottom, turn right and head towards the metal footbridge. 

The Boathouse Inn is on the left, just before the start of the footbridge.


C2b-032.3: Saltaire boathouse in 1900s

The original boathouse was built in 1871. It was eventually converted to a pub.
By the turn of the twenty first century the building was derelict. It was taken over, renovated and reopened as the Boathouse Inn.
Unlike many buildings in Saltaire, the boathouse is unlisted due to extensive refurbishment and changes to the structure of the building. Nevertheless, it remains an important location in the village for recreation and tourism.

Explore the Collection for items related to the Boathouse.

River Aire near Salts Mill 2019

5. River Aire

River near Salts Mill showing the weir, 2019

From the Boathouse Inn, cross the footbridge. The River Aire runs underneath the bridge.

To the right, downstream, is a weir and Salts Mill.

To the left, upstream, you can see the Boathouse Inn and Roberts Park, including Saltaire Cricket Club.

River Aire

C2b-032.1: River Aire in Saltaire with Boathouse and Salts Mill visible

The River Aire rises in North Yorkshire at Malham Tarn, becoming an underground stream near Malham Cove and rising again at Aire Head. The Aire flows through Skipton, entering West Yorkshire where it passes through Keighley, Bingley, Saltaire, Shipley and Leeds. At Castleford, the Aire and Calder merge, close to where the old Roman road crosses en-route to York. The Aire empties into the River Ouse at Airmyn.

The river valley around Bradford is known as Airedale and historically provided a low-altitude route through the Pennines to the west coast.

The presence of the Aire was extremely important in Titus Salt’s decision to build here. Industrial machinery in the mid-19th century required huge quantities of water to power it. At Saltaire, this could be easily drawn from the river, with the canal and railway offering more direct routes for trade with other towns and cities.

Explore the Collection for items related to the River Aire.

Roberts Park main open space, 2019

    6. Roberts Park

    Main open space in the park in 2019

    From the footbridge, continue immediately into Roberts Park.

    To the left there is Saltaire Cricket Club and the Half Moon Cafe. A statue of two alpacas sits outside the cafe and a statue of Sir Titus Salt is directly above it. 

    Further into the Park, above the cafe, there is the main promenade complete with bandstand and ornamental cannons.

    Saltaire/Roberts Park

    D3-083: Roberts Park promenade in the early 20th century

    Originally Saltaire Park, the 14 acre space opened in 1871 and was free for anyone to enjoy.

    The park was originally reached by a bridge from the end of Victoria Road, over the valley to what is now the West entrance, at the lodge. This bridge had to be demolished after World War Two, due to damage caused by tanks crossing to use the area for manoeuvres.

    Although provided for all to enjoy, there were strict rules enforced in the park. Among other things, political and religious demonstrations were banned, as were wheeled vehicles and unaccompanied children under 8.

    The Salt family sold the mill and the village in 1893 to four Bradford businessmen. One of those, James Roberts had become sole owner by 1902. After Roberts had retired, he donated the park to Bradford Council and renamed it Roberts Park, not after himself, but in memory of his deceased son, Bertram Foster Roberts.

    Read more about the park on our Buildings page

    Explore the Collection for items related to the park

    New Mill, 2019

      7. New Mill

      View of Mill from Roberts Park in 2019

      Exit the park back over the metal footbridge. Head up the short slope towards Victoria Road.

      New Mill is directly in front of you as you reach the top of the slope.

      New Mill

      B1-267:Salts Mill, late nineteenth century. New Mill is on the left

      New Mill stands on the site of the original Dixon Mill, the building that stood here before Salt began work on his model village.

      New Mill was built in 1868, in a similar style to the main Salts Mill. The mill expanded to incorporate other processes required for manufacturing textiles, including a dye house in 1871.

      The New Mill was extensively refurbished in the early 1990s and is now a combination of office space for Bradford Health Authority and 98 privately owned apartments. All the internal modifications are entirely reversible.

      8. Leeds-Liverpool Canal

      Canal near Salts Mill 2019

      From New Mill at the bottom of Victoria Road, head uphill. You will almost immediately cross the Leeds-Liverpool canal.

      To the left is Salts Mill, a canal boat mooring site, and the way to Leeds (about 15 miles).

      To the right you can glimpse the tower of the United Reformed Church and the way to Liverpool (about 113 miles).

      Leeds-Liverpool canal

      B1-032/5/15: Canal barge by the New Mill, 1920s

      The Leeds-Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Britain to be built as a single waterway. It runs 127 miles from Liverpool, through East Lancashire and the Pennines, along the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, then through Bingley and Saltaire to Leeds.

      The Victorian equivalent of the motorway, along with the railway, the canal would have been an important factor in Titus Salt’s decision to build here. The land that would become Saltaire was perfectly positioned – a safe, but not excessive, distance from the pollution of Bradford and with rapid transport links to major industrial centres at Leeds and Liverpool where supplies could be bought, and products sold.

      Today, the canal provides recreation and relaxation for many people. There are a number of barges frequently moored along the canal by Saltaire, with some offering cruises along the canal. In addition to Saltaire, the canal passes through other historic sites, including Liverpool’s Royal Albert Docks and Leeds City Centre Waterfront.

      Explore the Collection for items related to the canal.

      South view of Salts Mill, 2019

        9. Salts Mill

        South view of Salts Mill in 2019

        From the canal, continue up the left hand side of Victoria Road. Salts Mill dominates the view to the left. 

        You can first see the main administration block. After this is the block of the main part of the Mill.

        Salts Mill

        B1-032/5/6: Salts Mill and railway sidings, early 20th century

        The first building to be constructed in Saltaire, Salts Mill was designed to manufacture textiles on a truly industrial scale. Titus Salt’s intention was to incorporate all elements of the manufacturing process under one roof, rather than each taking place at a separate location as his previous mills in Bradford required. Employing around 4000 workers, the Mill was the very heart of Saltaire.

        Part of Salt’s motivation to build Saltaire was his concern over the pollution and living conditions in Bradford. To prevent Saltaire suffering the same issues, each of the chimneys was fitted with an early device to remove pollutants from smoke.

        The Mill changed hands many times over the years. Following the collapse of the textile industry in West Yorkshire, processes were gradually moved out of the Salts Mill building. In 1985, the last processes were relocated, and the empty mill put up for sale.

        In 1987, Jonathan Silver purchased the Mill and refurbished it into the building we see today. Rather than a single manufacturing centre, the Mill hosts multiple new businesses and is a cultural hub with shops, an art gallery and restaurant.

        Victoria Road car park 2019

          10. Victoria Road car park

          Car park in 2019

          From Salts Mill, continue up Victoria Road past the allotments on the left toward the road junction with Caroline Street.

          At the junction on the left is a small car park ringed with gardens.

          Congregational Sunday School

          C2b-111: Saltaire Congregational Sunday School

          This was the last building constructed in Titus Salt’s lifetime, built on the corner of Caroline Street and Victoria Road.

          Initially, the site was going to be used for a hotel but it was repurposed for the Sunday School.

          Salt was a keen proponent of Sunday Schools and lived just long enough to see his own completed. Titus and his wife Caroline attended the opening ceremony but were forced to leave early due to his failing health. His grandson, Harold Salt, opened the Sunday School in May 1876. Sir Titus died in December the same year.

          The Sunday School was demolished in 1973 and is now a council-run car park.

          Explore the Collection for items related to the Sunday School.

          Jonathan Silver Building 2019

            11. Jonathan Silver Building

            Main entrance in 2019

            From the junction of Victoria Road and Caroline Street near the car park, turn left along Caroline Street.

            Walk 30 metres until you meet the road junction with Exhibition Road on the right.

            The Jonathan Silver Building is at the bottom of Exhibition Road.

            College gardens

            E2b-036a-b: Students in the College gardens on Exhibition Road, 1970s

            The space between the Exhibition Building and Caroline Street was used for many years as a garden for the use by students studying horticulture and related subjects in the Technical School and the later Shipley College.

            The Jonathan Silver Building was built in this space. It was opened in 2015 as part of Shipley College.

            Following Saltaire’s World Heritage designation in 2001, developments in the village and nearby are carefully regulated to avoid detracting from the character of Saltaire.

            The Jonathan Silver Building stands just outside the World Heritage Site (the boundary runs down the centre of Exhibition Road) in the buffer zone.

            The building was designed by local architects Rance Booth Smith to have a similar character to the other buildings in Saltaire while still being a modern design.

            Shipley College Exhibition Building 2019

            12. Exhibition Building

            Main entrance to Shipley College Exhibition Building 2019

            From the Jonathan Silver Building walk along Exhibition Road uphill for about 50 metres. 

            The next building on the left is the Exhibition Building.

            Exhibition Building

            E2b-026b: Technical School (Exhibition Building) in about 1919

            The Exhibition Building opened in 1887, built by Titus Salt JuniorSir Titus’s youngest son, in memory of his father.

            The building costs were supposed to be covered by the Royal Yorkshire Jubilee held in Saltaire in 1887, but this failed to raise the required sum.

            The Exhibition Building was built to house the School of Art and Science. This quickly became Shipley Technical School (incorporating the School of Art).

            These schools eventually went on to become Shipley College, a further education college and important institution in Saltaire today which occupies several of the original buildings.

            The Saltaire Collection is housed inside the Exhibition Building and can be visited by appointment.

            Read more about the Exhibition Building on our Buildings page.

            Explore the Collection for the Exhibition Road Building

            Sir Titus Salt's Hospital in 2023

            13. The Hospital

            The hospital building, now flats, in 1923

            Continue up Exhibition Road to the junction with Saltaire Road. 

            Turn right up Saltaire Road and walk to the junction with Victoria Road.

            Across Saltaire Road there is a large building which is the Hospital.

            Sir Titus Salt's Hospital

            C2b-190: Sir Titus Salt's Hospital with two storeys (late 19th century)

            Titus Salt built an infirmary on the corner of Alexandra Square near the top of Victoria Road to care for the village residents.

            It had enough wards and beds for 27 patients, a dispensary and a surgery for treating workers injured in the Salts Mill.

            The hospital was taken over by the National Health Service in 1948.

            It was sold in 1974 and became a private nursing home. It has since been converted to private residences.

            Read more about the history of the Hospital in our timeline.

            Explore the Collection for items related to the Hospital.

            Almshouses on Alexandra Square, 2013

            14. The Almshouses

            Almshouses in corner of Alexandra Square, 2013

            From looking at the Hospital on Saltaire Road, cross Saltaire Road at the Pelican crossing.

            Walk up Victoria Road. On the right is Alexandra Square with almshouses on three sides. Other almshouses are on the opposite side of Victoria Road, uphill from the Hospital.


            C2b-147f: Almshouses around Alexandra Square

            Unlike many of his contemporaries, Titus Salt was determined to ensure a decent quality of life for his workers, even after they left his employ. In addition to the many educational institutions he built to allow workers to better themselves, he also commissioned the almshouses on Victoria Road.

            The 45 almshouses were built to provide shelter for those who couldn’t support themselves, such as widows and injured workers. Although preference was given to workers in Salts Mill and their families, anyone of ‘good character’ and unable to support themselves was eligible.

            Although this was unusually generous by the standards of the time, residents were subject to strict rules on their behaviour and the maintenance of the houses.

            In what is now No. 29, there was originally a small chapel to save residents walking down to the Congregational Church. On opening it, Salt is reported to have said:

            My sole desire is that you should be happy, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to know that you are so.

            Read more about the Almshouses in our Buildings timeline.

            Explore the Collection for items related to the Almshouses.

            Methodist Church front door 2019

            15. Methodist Church

            Church front door 2019

            From the Almshouses, walk down Victoria Road to the junction with Saltaire Road.

            Cross over Saltaire Road using the Pelican crossing. Turn left and go a short distance up Saltaire Road.

            The Methodist Church is on the right.

            Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

            C2b-112a-d: Original Saltaire Methodist Chapel

            The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel that first stood on this site was built in 1868 on land gifted by Titus Salt.

            The original church was demolished in 1970 due to its deteriorating condition. The current Methodist Church was built in 1971 and was subsequently modified to be more in keeping with the surrounding village.

            Saltaire has survived into the 21st century remarkably unscathed. With the Bath and Wash Houses and the Congregational Sunday School, the Wesleyan Methodist Church is one of the few buildings to have been lost.

            Since Saltaire’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List, they should also be the only ones.

            Explore the Collection for items related to the Methodist Church

            Salt Building, 2019

            16. Salt Building

            Shipley College Salt Building, 2019

            From the Methodist Church, return to Victoria Road and walk downhill about 200 metres past Titus Street.

            The Salt Building is on the left. It is part of Shipley College and the grounds are private.


            Salt Schools

            E1b-115: Salt Schools on Victoria Road Saltaire 1874

            The Salt Schools opened in 1868, for both day scholars and half-timers, who would work at the mill for half a day and attend school for the other half. Before this, the factory school was housed in the Dining Hall.

            Boys entered on the right and girls on the left and the school was designed to cater for 750 children initially. In 1874, there were 806 half-timers and 454 day scholars, with an average attendance of 665. The schools were constructed with state-of-the-art technology: hot water central heating, gas lighting, and tip-up lavatories.

            In 1878, the school split, with infants moving to Albert Road Board School (today Saltaire Primary School) and the Salt Schools becoming the Salt High School. This eventually moved to a new site on the far side of Roberts Park. Today, the original building, along with the Exhibition Building, Dining Hall and the Jonathan Silver building, forms Shipley College, a further education institution.

            Outside the Salt Building, there are two lions, and two more on the opposite side of the road. Their names can just be made out, inscribed on their pedestals: Peace, War, Vigilance and Determination. Local legend has it that these were originally constructed for Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. This is, unfortunately, almost certainly a myth.

            Read more about the Salt Schools on our buildings page.

            Explore the Collection for items related to the Salts Schools on Victoria Road.

            Victoria Hall in 2023

            17. Victoria Hall

            Front view of the Hall in 2023

            From the Salt Building, directly opposite Victoria Road is the imposing Victoria Hall.

            Saltaire Club and Institute

            C2b-172 Photograph of Victoria Hall taken from the Salts School

            Originally, this building was known as The Saltaire Club and Institute, with only the main hall called Victoria Hall.

            Completed in 1871, it was one of the final pieces of Titus Salt’s vision of a model village, providing everything a person needs in life. The institute was intended, first and foremost, to provide a social gathering space for residents (rather than a pub) and, secondly, as an educational institute.

            Although not part of the temperance movement, Salt was staunchly opposed to the construction of a public house in his village, having seen many workers in Bradford drink their wages away as soon as they were paid and fail to provide for their families.

            Residents were free to drink at home or at pubs outside the village but Salt hoped they would be attracted by the more immediate Social Club and Institute.

            The building housed rooms for billiards, bagatelle, chess and drafts, reading, classrooms, a library, a laboratory and a large hall for lectures and concerts. It also housed the Schools of Art and Science, which later moved to the Exhibition Building.

            Today, the building is managed by the Salt Foundation and provides a venue for community events and weddings.

            Read more about the Institute on our Buildings page.

            Explore the Collection for items related to the Institute.

            Saltaire Primary School, 2019

            18. Saltaire Primary School

            View of the Junior School building, 2019

            From Victoria Hall, go back up Victoria Road until you reach the junction with Titus Street.

            Turn right and cross Victoria Road. Walk along Titus Street for 300 metres until you reach Albert Road.

            Cross Albert Road and turn left. Walk uphill along Albert Road until you reach the school on your right.

            Albert Road Board Schools

            C2a-051: Photograph of children at Saltaire Albert Road Infants School 1902

            As the population of Saltaire grew, the Factory School on Victoria Road (today the Salt Building) became inadequate for the number of children requiring an education. The local school board (chaired by Sir Titus Salt) opened the Albert Road Board Schools in 1878 to cater for 815 younger children. The original Factory School remained in use as the High School.

            Children at the Albert Road schools were taught in mixed classes of around 40 children, although boys and girls were still seated in separate halves of the room. Corporal punishment was forbidden.

            At the time, the Shipley and Saltaire Times reported that people were doubtful whether this new approach to education would work. Shortly after their opening, the same newspaper printed a report on the schools and retracted their earlier criticism.

            Today, the buildings form Saltaire Primary School, with pupils aged 5-11.

            Explore the Collection for items related to the Albert Road schools.

            Wash House garden on Caroline Street

            19. Wash House garden

            The garden in 2019

            From Saltaire Primary School, walk down Albert Road until you meet Caroline Street on the right.

            Walk along Caroline Street for about 200 metres until you meet Edward Street. In between Edward Street and Amelia Street is a small garden, the site of the former Bath and Wash Houses.

            Bath and Wash Houses

            C3b-046.2: Drawings for the Bath and Wash house

            In the nineteenth century, most houses didn’t have indoor bathrooms. If people wanted to bathe, they had to fill a bath with water heated over the fire and washing was usually hung across the streets to dry.

            To avoid both these problems, Titus Salt built the Bath and Wash houses in 1863 at a cost of £7000 (over £600,000 today). These housed 24 baths, 12 each for men and women and a Turkish bath.

            A warm bath would cost 6d. and a cold one 3d. The wash house contained everything people would need to wash and dry their clothes: 48 washing, rinsing and steam tubs, 48 drying closets, a steam dryer and mangles, meaning clothes could be cleaned and dried in under 1 hour.

            As in the rest of the North of England, the Bath and Wash Houses did not prove popular. People preferred to bathe in the privacy of their own homes and wash clothes in their own kitchen where they could also complete other tasks.

            The buildings were converted into houses in the late 1900s before being completely demolished in 1936.

            Today, a community garden has been planted on the site, following consultation with residents in 2011.

            Explore the Collection for items related to the Bath and Wash Houses.

            Don't Tell Titus, Saltaire bar in 2019

            20. Don't Tell Titus

            View of the bar in 2019

            From the Wash House garden, continue along Caroline Street until you return to Victoria Road.

            Turn left and walk down Victoria Road along the row of shops. Don’t Tell Titus is in this row.

            Victoria Road shops

            C2b-162a: Shops on Victoria Road, 1980s

            Titus Salt is sometimes rumoured to have been against the consumption of alcohol. Receipts from his wine cellar tell a different story!

            Like any good myth, there is a grain of truth to this – Salt did not allow the building of a public house anywhere in Saltaire. Although not part of the Temperance Movement, he had seen families in Bradford suffering in poverty when workers went straight from being paid to drinking their wages away. Salt hoped that by providing other activities at the Institute, workers would choose these over a walk to the nearest pub outside the village.

            As times changed, so did restrictions on Saltaire and today there are many pubs and bars in the village. One has to wonder what Salt would think of Don’t Tell Titus…

            Download the trails

            Follow the main trail above or download a PDF of the trail to print out.

            We also have a child-friendly trail that is available as a PDF. With thanks to Saltaire History Club.

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