We left Riddlesten having moored outside the old Puffer Parts Chandlery now closed after Dougie retired and headed for Bingley. One of the Drum wide beam hire boats had moored on the other side of the swing bridge in a very narrow section of canal and as we negotiated around him and the trees at a snails pace his stern pin, which had not been hammered home came out and his stern drifted across the canal in front of Autumn Years. After much banging on the hull and tooting of horns the crew finally surfaced from bed and recovered the boat with many apologies.
The two and a half mile trip to Bingley went without further hitch until we came to the ABC foot bridge which the Nicolsons guide had said was normally lock open. As it happened one of the clubs members had been to get something and left the bridge closed for his return. No problem and he came back just as we went through.
We stopped for water at the Services at the top of the Bingley Five Rise and went to have a chat with the very nice lock keeper on duty. He said that it was fairly quiet at present and he would help us down the flight as soon as we were ready. This flight of 5 staircase locks was opened in 1774 to lower the canal 18 metres (59ft 2 inch) down the Aire Valley over a distance of 320 ft. and is the steepest staircase in Britain. It was designed by John Longbotham and built by local stonemasons. In the distance can be seen the Damart Clothing Mill in Bingley some 90ft lower as the Five Rise is followed quickly by the Three Rise set.
Both sets of locks have gate paddles and the horizontal paddle winders with cow horns to turn them but they are very heavy and the girls struggled with some of them. However the lock keepers came to their rescue. Some of the 5 Rise and all the 3 Rise have these unusual scissor operated gate paddles which again were heavy to wind but were very effective.
Several pigeons had decided to nest in the top gates of the 3 Rise locks and flew out as we went down. They did not seem to be bothered by the operation of the locks. Mooring is available on the off side next to the Damart Millto explore Bingley where a new Aldi has recently opened.
The Dowley Gap Staircase leaked like a sieve and we had our back decks awash with floods of water as it poured through the gaps and leaky paddles in torrents.
Soon we were entering Saltaire Village with its towering old Mill buildings now converted into apartments. The mooring here does not permit boats to stay over night so we thought we could moor on the armco just passed the buildings but it was so shallow and full of boulders that we could not get closer than 6 ft. to the bank. What a shame it has not been dredged as it would make ideal overnight mooring. Luckily we were able to moor on the Salts Wharf visitor mooring a short way along the canal but there is only room for 2 boats.
After lunch we set off to explore Salts Mill. First I popped into the music shop which has a wide selection of Harps, recorders, guitars and Harpsicords which started at around £8000 each. Entering the old mill building we found on the first floor the 1853 gallery with the worlds largest permanent collection of David Hockney works. The second floor has a wide range of unusual books and one which caught our eye was called “Our Cool Scooter” and brought back memories of our time on our Lambretta. The third floor had another David Hockney collection entitled The Arrival of Spring. The ceiling of the ground floor was of brick in several barrel shaped arches and supported on columns. At the entrance is this giant size chair again a David Hockney design.
Saltaire was built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. The name of the village is a combination of the founder's surname and the name of the river. Salt moved his business (five separate mills) from Bradford to this site near Shipley to arrange his workers and to site his large textile mill by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the railway. Salt employed the local architects Francis Lockwood and Richard Mawson. Salts Mill was opened on Sir Titus Salt's 50th birthday, 20 September 1853.
Salt built neat stone houses for his workers (much better than the slums of Bradford), wash-houses with tap water, bath-houses, a hospital and an institute for recreation and education, with a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and a gymnasium. The village had a school for the children of the workers, alms-houses ,allotments, a park and a boathouse. Recreational initiatives were also encouraged such as the establishment of a drum and fife band for school age boys and a brass band, precursor of today's Hammonds Saltaire Band, for men of the village.
Sir Titus died in 1876 and was interred in the mausoleum adjacent to the Congregational church. When Sir Titus Salt's son, Titus Salt Junior, died, Saltaire was taken over by a partnership which included Sir James Roberts from Haworth.
In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Here are the Village Hall and the Sir Titus Salt Hospital.