Titus Salt and Saltaire
Titus Salt was born on the 20th September 1803 in the Morely area of Leeds. He came from quite a wealthy background and he had a very reasonable education. When he and his parents moved to Bradford, Titus’ life in the textile trade prospered. Salts father was once a white cloth merchandise, so this helped greatly in the set-up of ‘Daniel Salt and Son’ wool buyers, based in Bradford. As Titus was the eldest of Daniel Salts seven children he was expected to inherit and run the family business.
Titus was a Sunday worker at the local church, and it was here that he met and fell in love with his wife Caroline Whitlam of Grimsby. There is a street in Saltaire that is named after his wife, showing true love and compassion for both his wife and Saltaire.
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Titus built Saltaire because he wanted a model village- at the time Leeds and the Bradford area were very polluted and dirty places to live in. At Titus’ time Bradford was known as the ‘City of the Industrial Revolution.’ It was acknowledged as the worsted capital of the world. Bradford was becoming a very wealthy city indeed. However behind the good reputation it boasted, the life was the worst they had had for years. Manual labourers became very poor as they were not needed anymore- machines were taking over. They were, in fact, poorer than ever. Bradford was a dirty city, sanitation was bad. People caught diseases more easily, making workers in factories die in their dozens. For example if one person in a factory caught cholera or the consumption, by the next week most of the other workers would have it.
This meant that the production of work was not as good as it should be. The factories were grossly overcrowded; this was so that there were more product made. But this also had major disadvantages, such as contagious infections or accidents that happened in the workplace. Homes were also overcrowded. This was so that Landlords could get more rent. But, again, contagious infections were spread more easily and life, in general, was made more difficult and cramped. Ironically, it was Sir Titus himself who owned five of the major factories in Bradford. Some of the factories that he owned at the time had the worst working conditions around.
So why did he want to build Saltaire?
Some could argue that it was purely for the money. He may have built it because of his theory: ‘Healthy workers mean that less people are sick, more people come to work, more money is made, and so Titus will make more and more money.’ So if everybody had a decent place to live, with a decent wage, then surely this will make their life easier and less complicated. People will want to live there and will enjoy working in the factory. This is because it is clean and healthy. This would mean that Titus makes more money and that he can expand his business further.
Titus may have been Paternalistic, which means to exercise authority in a way that limits ones individual responsibility. Titus was appalled at the living conditions of the people of Bradford, he thought that his theory was very true. If Titus was already a very well off gentle man then why would he need to make even more money? Some would argue that he didn’t do it purely for money but for care and compassion to those who were worse-off than he was. He may have really wanted people to have a good and healthy lifestyle. He may have really cared for the community, and observed the poor conditions that were such in factories all over Bradford and Leeds. Titus may wanted to give the next generation a life to look forward to and make sure that children got the education and homes that they deserved. Titus quotes: “… I also hope to do good to my fellow men…”
The site that he chose was that in Shipley, which was near the River Aire, hence the name Saltaire. It was also near a railway, canal and roads. This was the ideal sit for Titus to build on. Trading would be very easy, but that not near the dirty cities of Leeds and Bradford. Obviously, it needed to be relatively near so that trading could commence but far away enough so that his workers wouldn’t have to put up with the pollution problems that they had to face in the city.
Titus may have been a believer of ‘Megalomania’ which means having mental delusions of power over something, he may have loved himself and his family so much that he would name a village after himself. If he owned a village with over 800 cottages with people living in them, that would surely mean that he had ultimate power over them. For example, he could sack a worker simply because he could. Titus had enough money already, even if he didn’t make a model village. He didn’t need it; maybe he thought that this village would be something to remember him by when he dies. If he was just another factory owner in Bradford, not a lot of people would have been sorry that he died, but if he built a perfect village for people to live happy care-free lives then that would be a very great achievement. People will love him for it, and give him respect. They would remember him and he may go down in history.
I think that Titus built Saltaire because he genuinely cared about the people’s health. Titus already had enough money to set him and his family up for life but he still carried on doing what he believed in- helping others who were worse off than himself.
Q2) What do the streets and buildings in Saltaire suggest about Salts values and beliefs?
To value means something that you regard as important, you think it improves things and you want others to have it.
To have a belief in something it means that it is the central core, the platform underlining your existence. Beliefs relate to key things in your life, eg, Religion, Society, and Country.
In Saltaire virtually all of the streets are named after either Royalty or his family. This shows what his values are. For example he has named a street after his wife, Caroline Street. This shows that he must have really cared about his wife, to name a street after her. This also shows that she must have had great faith in him, to have stayed with him for so long. He has also named streets after his wife’s family, showing that he has thought greatly about his family during the building of the village. This suggests that he was maybe building the model village as something to pass on to his family when he dies as it really shows that they mean that much to him.
There are streets named after Royalty, such as Albert Road and Victoria Road. This emphasises his beliefs and values in the Royal Family. He valued their strong and powerful beliefs in both religion and society. He wanted everyone to know that he was proud of both his family and the Royals.
From going round Saltaire I noticed that the Mill was the heart of Saltaire. It was very large and looked very well patented from the outside. You could clearly see from the stern structure that Salt wanted it to be the main focal point of the village. When I looked around inside I saw that it was very tall and airy. This was probably so that the workers would have more space to work in. I noticed that the beams that are usually present on the inside of old buildings weren’t there, which made it look even more spacious. The outside had a very nice looking pattern and this made it look pretty and most unlike the ugly factories that you got in Bradford.
The hospital is quite a large building on one of the main roads of the town suggesting the importance of it to the townspeople, and indeed Titus himself. The building of this hospital suggests Titus’ beliefs were kind hearted. He had a hospital built especially for the convenience to the workers. He believed a healthy workforce was a happy workforce, thus Titus would make more money.
The United Reformed Church suggests a great deal to us about Titus’ beliefs. It is situated nearly in the centre of the town, and is facing the most important building in the village- the Mill. The interior is decorated tastefully, with lots of patterns and dear looking artefacts. This is where Titus’ family was laid to rest. This suggests that Titus had a great love towards the church and the beliefs behind it.
The actual name of Saltaire suggests that Titus really did believe in himself. And also that he was quite bigheaded. Usually people only get named after things when they are dead but Titus was still alive when he gave the village that name. The ending ‘Aire’ is after the River Aire, which was the main trading route from the village, this suggest how important is was to Titus and the rest of the villagers.
Q3) Do you think Saltaire was a substantial achievement?
At the time Saltaire was a breath of fresh air for workers. This meant clean air, a proper place to live, and a wage guaranteed every week. The new workers could hardly complain. In Bradford, living and working conditions were very poor. Life for them was harder than ever.
Salt saw how poor they were and he decided to do something about it. Build a model village. He thought that if workers had better conditions in which to live and work then they would produce better work standards.
It took just over twenty years to complete fully. But as the mill was finished in 1853, his fiftieth birthday, people started to move to Bradford. To say that he built a model village from scratch says a lot about what sort of man he really was- hardworking.
At the time people thought Saltaire was a good idea, and with Salt in parliament, being a successful businessman, and a magistrate, he was the ideal man to do the job. People saw Titus as kind and considerate with a great public spirit, who else could fit the job description?
Over they years Saltaire has changed a great deal. It has moved on with the rest of the world. Although it is still a relatively quiet little village. There are now pubs and other shops that weren’t allowed back then, but since Titus’ death in December 1876, things have changed, and different people took over the running of the village.
Church going is optional and just about anyone can live and work in Saltaire. Nobody actually owns the village, and the mills have ceased trading. The cotton traders of the north no longer trade, making Saltaire just another normal village.
I think that Titus Salt would not have liked the Saltaire that has become now. The Mills seemed like his livelihood, he was proud of them. There is also no particular order- anyone can live where they want and work where they like. He also hated pubs and other places where you could go to waste your money. Although Saltaire has grown and is an attraction, I don’t think he would have liked what it has become.
I do think Saltaire was a substantial achievement at the time because he managed to build a model village and create a model life. He had complete control over everything that went on in the village. It was kept clean and tidy, and he also made a lot of money in doing so. Titus has made this village a tourist attraction, because he designed it from scratch- and he made a model village. Everyone wanted to be there, and people gave him respect for his great achievement.