• Day115

    Day 115: Liverpool to York via Saltaire

    June 10, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Time to leave Liverpool. It's been a lot more interesting and fun than I was expecting! Said farewell to our hosts and hit the road at the usual time, knowing that we had a lot of driving to do today. First stop was the UNESCO World Heritage site at Saltaire!

    Saltaire is a model village just outside the city of Bradford in Yorkshire, and it's listed for being a great example of Victorian-era paternalism. The owner of several local textile mills wanted to consolidate them all into one enormous mill, which he did in the 1850s. But because of the horrendous, squalid conditions in the slums of Bradford, the owner (Titus Salt) decided to build a town around his new mill to provide decent livelihoods for his workers.

    As the industrial revolution sites in the UK so far have been a bit of a mixed bag, I was actually a bit apprehensive about our visit, thinking that there wouldn't be much to see and that it wouldn't live up to expectations. Probably didn't help that it was a 2 hour drive in from Liverpool and we could spend most of the drive thinking about it!

    But when we arrived we were both pleasantly surprised. The town is very well preserved and quite lovely - neat streets with nice buildings in good condition, freshly painted and clean, lots of flowers in the small gardens out the front. The gigantic mill building is still there and looms over the town, but these days it's mixed-use: lots of offices, an art gallery, some fancy knick-knack shops, and a popular cafe where we stopped for lunch.

    Had another poke around the town where we could see the public buildings constructed for the village as well - a unique circular church, along with a school, hospital, library, and a couple of community halls. There was a football club and brass band for the men, sewing circles for the women. And noticeably, the one thing that wasn't built was a pub - Sir Titus was a very religious man and knew the dangers of drink among his workers. So he forbade pubs from opening in his town.

    Overall it was a really nice visit that we both enjoyed, certainly well above expectations! And as I said in my video, it's good to see that not all Victorian-era industrialists were Ebenezer Scrooge, and that some were genuinely concerned about the welfare of their employees.

    Back in the car where we drove around 30 minutes back into Leeds, as I had a minor pilgrimage to make. My father and my paternal grandparents all hail from Leeds, and dad had given me the address of where he lived as a kid (though they all emigrated to Australia when he was 4-5 years old).

    Managed to find the house with only minor troubles, took a couple of photos and some video which I sent on to the extended family on that side. Though a little more research revealed that although it was the same address, it was actually a different house - the complex had been bulldozed and rebuilt in the 1970s. Oh well! Interesting to see the location though.

    Back in the car where we drove another couple of hours north-east, to the city of York. This was to be our base for the next couple of days, as although York isn't UNESCO listed, it is very important to English history and the York Minster church is very famous and important.

    But since we arrived late in the afternoon and were both tired, we decided to just grab some supplies and stay in. The house itself is quite nice, it's a three-storey terraced house occupied by a young couple. Although they weren't around, they both seem quite arty - the guy had a music studio and the girl had a painting studio occuupying separate bedrooms on the middle floor. Lots of artsy decoration around as well, with a lot of found-furniture type stuff. And an extremely fast internet connection!
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    Joel Baldwin

    Part of the mill, the world's largest factory when constructed

    Joel Baldwin

    One of the public buildings, I think this was a technical college

    Joel Baldwin


    Joel Baldwin

    Granny's "house"