1801: Bradford Population 6,393, Spinning Mills 1
At this time Bradford is a rural market town, not much bigger than nearby Keighley, and significantly smaller than nearby Halifax and Huddersfield. Bradford is a hub for the nearby townships of Manningham, Bowling and Great and Little Horton.
At this time wool-spinning and cloth weaving is carried out predominantly in local farms, but Bradford is on the cusp of the industrial revolution, with steam power about to displace water and horse power. The first steam engine arrived in Bradford in 1798, and the first steam-powered spinning mill opened in 1800.
The rural population begins to pour into the rapidly expanding city, eager for the higher wages offered in the new manufacturing industries. As most were soon to discover more money went hand in glove with appalling working conditions, danger and disease, cramped insanitary housing and for many an early grave.
1803: Titus Salt born at Morley
Salt was born into a family headed by his father. His father was initially a drysalter – a dealer in gums, dyes, drugs, spices and pickles, and would move into farming later when Salt was 10 years old.
Salt grew up in an environment were he was guided very much by his father’s strong ethical principles, which were based on hard work and staunch Nonconformist worship. The young Titus was soon influenced by this virtuous atmosphere which helped to form his own moral view of life and led to his later philanthropic endeavours.
From these inauspicious beginnings Salt would eventually grow to be a major figure in Bradford civic life as we shall see shortly.
1816: Leeds-Liverpool Canal Completed
First envisaged in 1766, the 127-mile long canal revolutionised the transportation of goods within the North of England. The canal would later prove to be a major factor in Titus Salt’s decision to build his mill at Saltaire.
Investors ultimately reaped large profits from the cargoes of cotton, wool and grain conveyed on the canal.
As we shall soon see, railways rather than canals were soon to become the preferred method of transportation in during the accelerating industrialisation of Great Britain.