2013 - August - 24

Our Day E. Riddelsden Saltaire Thank You Please Read Me

Our Day

Distinctly wet and inclement weather was forecast for today, Bank Holiday Saturday. So some of us opted for more cultural activities that provided a reasonable amount of protection from the elements, at the same giving us some "food for the mind". The 16th century and the 19th century were on the menu. East Riddlesden Hall, a National Trust property in Keighley, took us back to the Tudor times, and Salt's Mill in Saltaire took us back a mere 150 years or so to the Industrial Revolution.

East Riddlesden Hall was first on our agenda for the day.

For the evening, Sonija arranged a social meal - a prandial get-together if you prefer - in the pub in Haworth's Main Street, just below the "Golden Fleece" which was yesterday's venue.

East Riddelsden Hall

East Riddelsden Hall, a National Trust Property in Keighley, has mediaeval origins. The Hall was extensively rebuilt between 1642 and 1648 by a wealthy Halifax clothier, James Murgatroyd, whose family had Royalist and Catholic sympathies. The cloth connection showed that, in these parts, the traditional landed gentry often had wealthy merchants and industrialists as influential neighbours - this apparently was not a novel phenomenon of the subsequent Industrial Revolution.

The Great Hall at East Riddelsden Hall.

East Riddelsden Hall, as so often with such buildings, had a chequered existence, changing hands several times. Certainly, in the 1640s it had not been anticipated that nearby busy transport links - originally the canal, and latterly rail and road - would eventually affect the erstwhile rural seclusion of this noble pile. By late Victorian times the state of the building seemed to suggest that demolition would be its fate, and indeed, in the early 1900s, the Starkie Wing, whose gaunt façade still survives, succumbed to the demolisher's hammer. In the 1930s, the building was saved from complete oblivion by the National Trust and thus "preserved for posterity".

East Riddelsden - The Approach

The expansive Duck Pond welcomed us as we arrived. There were a few drops of rain making patterns on the surface of the water. The ducks were pleased.

We approach the forecourt ...

... and wait a while for the National Trust volunteers to "open up".

Here is another view of the Duck Pond, looking back to the main entrance by which we came into the Hall Grounds. The stone steps are reminiscent of those that used to be - and some still are - dotted around central London. These particular steps were used by the Master of the House, when he mounted his steed to go out hunting with his falcons. He had a mews for the said birds of prey, and we shall see this later.

East Riddelsden - The House Within

The Great Hall was a feature shared by most large houses in mediaeval times. It later served as the entrance hall. Here a nice tapestry - provenance not known to me - greets the vistor.

A depiction of nobel events is what the owner of this house needed! Here someone, apparently successful in battle, is receiving the regal crown from an enthusiatic lady. Indeed, the tapestry illustrates the recurring themes in history: defeating an enemy (whether the enemy be real or contrived), acclaim by the people, confirming one's power and might, and of course, for men, appreciation by the women!

A nicely carved chair is standing by the stair. The teasels are a polite way of saying, "please do not sit on me". However, the virtue of the chair lies less in its hardness as a seat, and more in the carving that graces its back.

Instruments of battle grace the fireplace. One could imagine a roaring log fire in the fireplace on stormy winter nights, and the owners of the house and their visitors telling each other tales of derring-do from times past. The reminiscences are all accompanied of course, by a bottle or two of full-bodied "red" wine from the wine cellar. Wine, purple and as smooth as satin!

Here is more of a close-up of those mediaeval and tudor must-haves: swords, a gun (probably not quite so mediaeval), pewter plates, hunting horn, stirrups and what look like snuff containers.

Part of the garden can be seen through a window with leaded lights, set into the thick wall of the house. A bar is there, apparently, for safety purposes.

One of these two unusual "petal" windows looks onto the entrance forecourt.
We shall see the other one shortly.

This is the bed of the master of the house and his wife, with rocking cot for offspring. Immediate attention can readily be given to the new-born by his mother. The bed is a four-poster, known hereabouts as a "tester" bed.

Nice, bulbous wooden carvings graced many a tudor furniture pillar.

Another four poster and rocking cot is in a nearby room. This bed is not the original but a clever substitute. I didn't quite follow the detailed family connection with the previous bed!

The second "petal" window is opposite to the first, but on the other side of the house. This window looks onto the garden ...

... as can be seen, by taking a closer look!

Life in country houses often countinued over a number of centuries, and the decor in the house was often adapted to reflect the latest styles. This is a room from the 18th Century.

The elegant face of an English grandfather clock looks benignly at the visitors.

The dining room was where one of the house owners stayed while busying himself with the intricate legal affairs of the property.
The "recliner" by the window enabled him never to be too far from his work.

The fireplace in this room dates from 1648, when the house was rebuilt.

The dining room is also home to a huge solid oak kitchen dresser or "court cupboard" to house all those pewter plates and goblets. The cupboard is a bit heavy to move if you want to dust behind it.

East Riddelsden - The Gardens

The large doorway at the back of the house gives straight on to the garden.

Above it is the "petal" window we saw before from within.

This view of the back of the house illustrates the aesthetic importance of a well kept lawn. Lawns are apparently an English invention.

And this is the view the owners of the house would have had as they stepped into their haven of peace - their formal garden.

Formal gardens were places for some experimentation to see what might suit the aesthetic tastes of their owners or what might fullfil their wish to copy the neighbours!

Low box or privet hedges surrounding colourful flowerbeds were popular ingredients in such plans.

Talking about low hedges, how about combining them with a patio and an arboreal arch?

However, a lawn with colourful borders should always be there - nature brought to order, although perhaps not quite as strictly as in a Japanese garden!

The lawn and colourful summer flowers give the back of the house an air of pleasant tranquility.
All is well with the world!

However, all was not that well, for in the Edwardian times, financial considerations led to the demolition of the "Starkie" wing, whose three gables are all that remain of a substantial part of the house. The main house would have followed suit in the 1930s, but the National Trust stepped in in time to prevent further loss of this fine example of English heritage.

Here is another view of the remains of the "Starkie" wing, brooding over the formal gardens.

Country houses usually had a herb garden to provide fresh herbs for dinners at the master's table. This herb garden is at the side of the house ...

... and looks out over the local part of the Aire valley. Tranquil countryside in ages past.

Here is the mews, where falcons were housed. The master of the house enjoyed riding, while, at the same time, hunting with his particular bird of prey, chosen for the day - you might say. The word "mews", of course, was subsequently used to designate those narrow streets behind, and originally giving service access to, the large Victorian houses, especially in inner London.

The Great Barn houses various items of tourist interest, although of unknown connection with the main house. This four-wheeled horse cart belonged to a J.M.Wright from Morton near Bingley - the same Bingley as in "Bradford & Bingley Building Society". At least, it looks like the "Morton", of "East Morton" and "West Morton", both of which lie to the north west of Bingley.


Saltaire is a UNESCO World Heritage site as of 2001. Sir Titus Salt (1803-1876), as founder of the mill at Saltaire (from: "Salt" + "[River] Aire"), was one of the drivers of the Industrial Revolution and of the concept of mass production, something we could not be without, as much as hand-crafted products may appeal to us. Salts Mill (look, no apostrophe!) was completed in 1853 and was at the time the biggest factory in the world.

The mill at Saltaire was once the largest factory in the world.

The associated social housing was built between 1851 and 1876. The Italian Classical style inspired the architects of the mill, the mill village and the associated Grade 1 United Reform Church. The mill finally closed in 1986 and was subsequently reopened by a Jonathan Silver, as a base for a number of businesses and art galleries including a David Hockney Gallery.

Now painter David Hockney
is certainly no Cockney.
For he is Bradford born you know,
with pictures in Salt's Mill on show.

The Victorian mills were superimposed on an area where weaving was already a local cottage industry - as evidenced by some traditional local houses with long vertical windows to allow the weavers as much light as possible. The mills, when they came, may have given employment to the impoverished, impecunious and the generally less well off. All very nice, but we should not forget the lesser aspects of many mills in the Victorian times. Hours were often long. The unguarded rotating machinery was dangerous and could result in workers succumbing to injury or death if they made a careless move or - heaven forbid! - they actually fell asleep on the job. Workers were sometimes paid in tokens which could only be spent on mill premises. "Exploitation" was - and still is - on the lips of many.

Very close-by is a funicular called the "Shipley Glen Tramway", where (as with the Great Orme Tramway) the term "tramway" is of course, a technical misnomer. It was opened in 1895, and has apparently kept many of its Victorian and Edwardian features. Its signposting was unfortunately very wanting, and thus it will have to be on the agenda of a future visit.

Saltaire - The Mill

This "Dining Room" is opposite the main mill entrance. It has a nice crest (perhaps that of Titus Salt?) and now seems to be connected with Shipley College.

The main mill entrance awaits you on the other side of the road.

The top floor of the main mill gives an impression of its size. When we visited, it happened to be hosting a strange art exhibition, the virtues of which were being extolled by a professor speaking on a continuously running video presentation.
(If you are dying to know: it was the "Cloth & Memory {2}" Exhibition, running from 2013 August 18 to 2013 November 03! As you may have guessed, it wasn't really quite my scene - but who am I to suggest it that it may not be someone else's scene?!)

Some more arty things on the second floor. But just soak up the length of the mill!

The mill has several floors and is indeed of great length - the largest factory in the world when it opened in 1853. Good transport links for coal coming in and woolen cloth products going out:
canal on one side, railway on the other.

Electric motors, invented by Faraday in the 1820s, were not yet ready for industrial deployment. One or more steam engines, placed close to the mill, provided the rotary power that was relayed by a system of shafts, gears, pulleys and belts, to all the floors of the mill to drive the different machines. Considering the power losses in the transmission, not an energy-efficient approach, but effective.

From the car park in Saltaire, we could really only see half of "Salts" Mill. What a long mill indeed!

Saltaire - The Church

The Grade 1 Listed United Reformed - Non-Conformist - church lies opposite the main mill entrance. As you enter the church, you are greeted by a statue of Sir Titus himself - almost as if he had become a saint after his demise. Perhaps the idea was that, even in his after-life, he should smile benignly on his workers as they come into God's house on a Sunday. Being "Non-Conformist" means that there may be more licence - compared with the C. of E. - as regards whose statues can be placed by the church entrance to greet the faithful!

Inside, the church looks aesthetically pleasing - as it should if it is Grade 1 listed!

And here's another view of the nice church interior.

Saltaire - Leeds and Liverpool Canal

The Leeds-Liverpool Canal by the mill was once a commercial artery that is now in semi-retirement ...

... supporting the leisure industry
with boats that add extra colour to the surrounding verdant landscape.

The mill more or less sits on top of the canal ...

... and the church is reflected in it.

Saltaire - Social Housing

The nearby "social housing" was Salt's pride and joy. Large houses were interspersed with smaller ones, workers with greater responsibilities occupying the larger houses

Social housing was innovative at the time,
but I think the houses look a bit sad, especially as there are no gardens.

Sir Titus - he was the boss after all - did not want houses to have individual gardens, but at some stage, allotments were introduced. This added some aspects of countryside and self-sufficiency to the mill workers' lives.

Thank You

Thank you Melissa for doing the driving. Going by car was a quick and easy way to reach our cultural destinations! Thank you to participants. In a way, thank you to the Weather Gods - I mean, had it not started out rainy in the morning, we might never have visited East Riddelsden and Saltaire!