Saltaire Village, World Heritage Site
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Saltaire Village World Heritage Site
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In praise of ... Saltaire

Saturday December 23, 2006
The Guardian

When a huddle of Yorkshire terraced houses joined the pyramids as a World Heritage Site, there was understandable cynicism that some sort of sop was being offered to keep the culture of the workers in step with high art. In five years the former industrial village of Saltaire, near Bradford, has proved the doubters wrong, and it can celebrate with justified pride the anniversary of its designation this month. The titanic alpaca mill created by Sir Titus Salt, who unlocked the lucrative secret of how to spin a substance resembling an oven scourer into mohair, has proved a redoubtable magnet for visitors. Its Hockney collection, the world's biggest, has been joined by a mixture of other arts, hi-tech commerce and shops whose buying policy, in terms of pre-selecting a wise choice from today's mountain of books, clothes and furnishings, consistently hits the spot. The extraordinary family behind the revival, the Silvers, suffered a cruel blow when Jonathan, who combined art and enterprise very much in the Salt fashion, died at only 48 nine years ago; but his widow Maggie and brother Robin have triumphantly carried on. The grid of streets named after Salt's family - Florence, Mary, Helen, Caroline - prospers and is celebrating in a distinctive way. Artists and locals have combined to create a "living advent calendar" of 24 house windows which are lighting up at dusk in sequence. Saltaire has opened up many other cultural windows and its revival is a bright light in northern England's renaissance.

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