Saltaire Village, World Heritage Site
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Saltaire Village World Heritage Site
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A spooky story by Peter J. Bottomley

Sally’s new house had 3 bedrooms, one for her brother Paul, one for her parents, and the attic bedroom for Sally. For the last 6 years Sally had slept in a cot in her parent’s room at first and then in the bottom bunk in Paul’s room. Now that she had her own bedroom she was very happy, and some of her friends were coming round to see it.
Paul was very happy too.
“My own room at last, just me and no silly sister. I love this house!” he shouted at the top of his voice.
Sally heard her brother’s shout.
“He’s just as happy has I am about having a room each,” she said to her mum.
“Can I pick the paint colours and the wall paper?” Sally asked her dad, “because I want it to be very bright. You know I don’t like dark corners.”
Their new house was in Saltaire. It was one of the houses that Sir Titus Salt had built for his factory workers. The house was new to the Miller family but it was built in 1857.
“That makes this house 150 years old this year,” said Sally after doing some counting on her fingers.
“Well done,” said Dad, “but the first mill was built before that and opened in 1853. The second mill was opened 15 years later in 1868, so there is a lot of heritage and history around this area.”
“The people who worked in the mills lived in the houses,” said Dad, “and at work they made a fabric from Alpaca wool or hair to make into clothes.”
“What’s an Alpaca?” asked Paul.
“It’s a camel but looks like a sheep,” answered Dad.
“Then lots of people must have lived in this house before we bought it,” said Paul, “and now it’s a World Heritage Site, so we live in a well-known place.”
Thinking about what Paul and Dad had said about the house, Sally replied, “Well it’s our house now and I am going to my new room. It might be old to other people but it’s new to me.”
Her room had a lovely view over Baildon moors and she could see both mills and their chimneys. One chimney was a copy of the campanile tower in Venice. Sally had been on a day trip to Venice when the family had been to Italy for their holidays last year, and looking at the chimney it reminded her of the time there. She laughed to herself thinking about Dad and Paul because they had got lost going to the Rialto Bridge which crosses the Grand Canal and they missed the dinner they had booked in a fancy restaurant.
“I hope they don’t get lost going over the canal in Saltaire,” she said as she climbed the stairs to her bedroom.
“Silly boys,” she said to one of her dolls as she sat on her bedroom floor.
The room was big enough to play in with her toys, dolls and 2 or 3 of her new friends. Dad had bought some new furniture and a desk. There was a large dark painted wardrobe already built into one of the corners of the bedroom. This was the only thing that Sally didn’t like about her new room and she didn’t put any of her clothes in it.
“Please put my bed in the opposite corner of the room from the wardrobe,” Sally had said to her dad when he was moving her things into her new room.
“This is a big bedroom for a little girl to have,” said Dad. “You will be using it for years to come, so look after it.”
Mum kept saying “Put your clothes away in the wardrobe and keep your room tidy. Dad won’t decorate it if it’s always a mess.
All the family settled in to their new home, but Sally kept waking up at all times throughout the nights and shouting for Dad.
“Dad, Dad, I can hear somebody talking,” Sally called out.
“She keeps hearing children talking in that old wardrobe,” said Mum to Dad.
“Don’t be daft,” Dad said to Sally. “Who feeds them or takes them to school?  I’ve never heard them, so go back to sleep, sweetheart, you’re just having a dream.”
The next morning Sally asked if she could sleep in the bottom bunk in Paul’s room again.
“No way,” shouted Paul. “My room is for me only and no girls are allowed past the door.”

“That old wardrobe is worrying her. It needs pulling out and a new one buying,” said Mum. This was a job for Dad, so out it came and a new one was bought.
“It makes the room look even bigger,” said Dad after he fit the new clean and brightly coloured wardrobe and started to paint Sally’s room.
“There really were some children living in that wardrobe, They moved my clothes and played with my toys,” Sally said to her brother, “and I am glad that Dad took it to the tip to be chopped up for firewood. It makes me feel a lot safer.”
“I bet it was them who ate my sweets,” laughed Paul, who thought that Sally had taken them when he was playing out. “But now I am not so sure.”
When mum and dad were pulling up the carpet to paint where the old wardrobe had stood, they found a doll that had gone missing, some sweet papers and a book. They looked at each other and said, “There is nobody else living in this house! Is there”?
“I hope not,” said Mum, shivering.
“Well,” said dad ”I think I will do some research in the local archives and find out just who did live here before us, perhaps some children lived here. You never know.... do you?” he added spookily.

(Follow this link to read Part 2)

© Peter J. Bottomely, 2007

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