Titus Salt was one of the great Victorian paternal capitalists. Not content with building a global commercial empire, he decided to create his own model industrial village. He chose green fields on the edge of Shipley, by the canal and railway, as the site for his novel and historic endeavour.
The mill, where three thousand workers toiled to turn raw materials into cloth to be exported across the globe, was constructed on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. The mill was opened in 1853. Victoria Street, which was to be the main street and was named after the Queen, was built to connect the mill to the canal, the specially built railway station and the Bradford and Keighley road so that Titus' workers could commute, whilst the village was under construction.
Opposite the Italianate mill, Titus Salt had the famous architects, Lockwood and Mawson, create an impressive church to cater for the spiritual needs of the workers. The architects devoted equal attention to the houses for the workers, which quickly followed. The workers' houses had running water, gas lighting and outside toilets. These houses, whilst small, compared favourably with the accommodation generally available to workers at the time.
Salt soon added a school so the children of his growing village could receive an primary education.
Salt was genuinely concerned with the welfare of his workers. As time passed, he added a hospital and alms houses to take care of the deserving sick and elderly. However, his paternalism ensured that he would not allow any pub in his village.
Indeed, Saltaire is today very different to the place created by Titus Salt. The large mill no longer produces cloth for the world. In fact, amongst many other uses, it provides a permanent gallery for the works of the Yorkshire artist, David Hockney.