Saturday, 10 May 2014

A social history in Haworth county

Another day with not knowing the weather. Grey skies, sunshine, rain and sunshine again. About every five minutes there is another kind of weather. We were rather lucky this morning for our outing to Keighley (from where the Brontës used to take their trains) and then on to Saltair for a little bit of English social history.

The station in Haworth

From Haworth to Keighly we went by an old diesel train. Quite fascinating to see the driver and other employees of the railway to go back to a time when trains and rails were handled manually. In Keighly we took a modern train three stops to Saltair. It is a Unesco world heritage since 2001. It was recognised for its international influence on town planning and an early example of a "model village".

Saltair was founded by Sir Titus Salt (1803)1876). He made his fortune in the Bradford textile industry. He wanted to leave the polluted towns for a greener environment and decided to relocate his business and employees. Two local architects Henry Lookwood and Richard Mawson designed the whole village in a classical style. The housing that was provided for the workers were of highest quality. Each house had a water supply, gas lighting, an outdoor privy, separated living and cooking spaces and several bedrooms. The idea was that if the workers had a good living, in a good area, they would be healthier, happier and more productive. Salt was definitely ahead of this time. 

We walked around the quarters with the houses built for the workers, which, still today, look very good. They are still used and still look very orderly. There is a slight difference in the designs and sizes of the houses depending on the status of the workers. Salt also built schools, a hospital and a church to take care of all aspects of life. The mill itself houses today art exhibitions and shops of different kind. We had too little time to spend there so if you are going take your time. There is also a coffee shop for the thirsty ones. There are two floors beautifully adapted for the purpose, with counters of books, arts, crafts, clothes, jewellery, kitchen utensils and much more. You can walk around having a look at it all. It is almost like a museum. I bought a book "Blogging for photographers" so I hope to be able to use photos better in the future. There was also an exhibition of the works of the local son, David Hockney.

The old Salt textile mill now a modern exhibition hall

Back by train to Keighly where the steam train was waiting for us. Absolutely fantastic and both employees of this little railway and the passengers were high in spirit. I think it was the first time I have travelled on a steam train. We settled down on really worn out seats, heard the 'puff puffs' when the steam worked itself up to a power level so the train could leave the station. It is uphill from Keighley to Haworth the first bit so it was really a 'tuff tuff train' as we say in Swedish (hopefully it does not mean anything bad in English?). It was an enjoyable trip back. What a day!

Our last day here so I made another quick visit to the museum and an now waiting for a drink and dinner. Hmm, still have to wait a couple of hours I notice! 

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