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Visit Saltaire for a great day out

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It's not often that people get the chance to say they've been to a UNESCO World Heritage Site on a day out in the UK, but there are plenty of very special places in the UK to see that are protected by the most preservation organisations on Earth. The unassuming model village of Saltaire, near Bradford, is one of them.

Falling under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the 20 hectare site is reference 1028 on the list, and for good reason. It explained: "Its textile mills, public buildings and workers' housing are built in a harmonious style of high architectural standards and the urban plan survives intact, giving a vivid impression of Victorian philanthropic paternalism."

Saltaire's creation began way back in 1853, when the inspirational and well-loved local figure Sir Titus Salt, from nearby Morley, Leeds and an early magnate in the woollen industry of Yorkshire, decided to create a utopia for his manufacturing process as well as the workers who had earned his trust with hard work over the years.

Of course, the best place to do this was near to means of transportation, especially so far in land, so Saltaire - named after Sir Titus himself - was situated between a railway line and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which is still a popular route for many people taking days out in the UK now.

Salt decided that he would overcome the slums found at the time in Bradford by building neat, attractive yet ultimately functional stone houses for his workers, complete with wash-houses with running water, a hospital and an institute for education and more leisurely activities.

On top of this, Saltaire was furnished with a library, a reading room, a laboratory, gym, concert hall and billiard room. To spruce the place up with a bit of greenery, boosting the beauty of the area in the modern day, Salt asked for allotments, a park and a boathouse.

Since then, people on days out to Saltaire are presented with all manner of attractive options, ultimately making the place a must-visit attraction for Yorkshire.

As the government is mandated to protect the site due to its World Heritage status, the buildings are individually listed and the highest level of protection is given to the Congregational Church, which is grade I. Any parts that have fallen into disrepair, which is surprisingly rare given the age of the site, are currently being restored by Bradford Council.

Yet people on a day out in the UK want more than just buildings; luckily, Saltaire provides extra experiences. Victoria Hall - originally the Saltaire Institute - is used for meetings and concerts and is home to the specialised Victorian Reed Organ Museum.

While Salts Mill closed in February 1986, businessman Jonathan Silver bought it in 1987 and renovated it for business, leisure and residential use. It is also home to the 1853 Gallery, showcasing the works of Bradford-born, world-famous artist David Hockney. Various shops are also dotted around, selling books, art supplies, jewellery, antiques, suits, bikes for a Leeds-Liverpool Canal trip and homewares from designers such as Alvar Aalto and Philippe Starck. Of course, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to keep you busy on your day out, too.

 

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