Saltaire History Timeline 1817-1847

1820: Salt is Apprenticed as a Wool-Stapler

Rouse and Son where Salt would learn the wool trade was a major Bradford industrial concern. This superb cross-sectional diagram taken from The Engineer shows the steam engine installed in the Rouse works later in 1881.

Rouse and Son where Salt would learn the wool trade was a major Bradford industrial concern. This superb cross-sectional diagram taken from The Engineer shows the steam engine installed in the Rouse works in 1881.

In 1820 after completing his schooling Salt spent two years apprenticed to Mr Jackson of Wakefield where he learnt the the wool stapling (wholesaling) trade. He would follow on from this in 1822 with further experience gained working in the mill of Messrs. Rouse & Son of Bradford.

Ultimately his father’s farming venture would prove to be unsuccessful. Salt later joined his father’s wool stapling business, and the two would go into business partnership together in 1824.

1832: Salt starts his first Mill in Bradford

When he was twenty-eight Salt bought some Donskoi wool from Russia. Try as he might Salt couldn’t interest local businessmen in this wool, since the twisted fibres made it difficult to process. Instead he bought and set up his own mill and spun the wool himself. His mill was very successful and soon Salt owned four more mills in the centre of Bradford.

1834: Titus Salt makes his first purchase of Alpaca wool

An Alpaca. By Kyle Flood, CC-BY-SA 2.0.

An Alpaca. Unchanged from original by Kyle Flood, CC-BY-SA 2.0.

Legend has it that after seeing several bales of unwanted Alpaca wool in the Liverpool warehouse of Hagen Hall and Co, Salt spent some time pulling this apart, feeling and smelling the material before buying it at a knock down price, all much to the amusement of the Hagen staff.

Salt then spent several months secreted in one of his labs with his most trusted experts during which time he was able to perfect the technique of processing the long fibres of the lustrous Alpaca wool. The new worsted fibre lent itself perfectly to the fashions and colours in vogue and the new woolen fabric ‘alpaca’ laid the foundation for Salt’s future fame and fortune.

The success of Salt’s Dolskoi and Alpaca woolens business meant that by the age of forty he was one of Yorkshire’s richest men.

1838: Northern Union of Chartists Formed

Poster advertising the now-famous Chartist demonstration on Kennilworth Common, 1848.

Poster advertising the now-famous Chartist demonstration on Kennilworth Common, 1848.

The industrial revolution was now in full swing. Changes in employment and working practices, urbanisation and social structure caused workers to be more politically aware.

Chartism came to the fore as the greatest mass movement of the working classes. The movement campaigned for political rights most of which are now taken for granted: universal male suffrage, equal electoral districts, the removal of property qualifications for MPs, payment of MPs, secret ballots and annual general elections.

Ultimately two petitions containing several million names were presented at 10 Downing Street, although the government chose to ignore them. During protests in Bradford troops and police were used to disperse chartists.

The movement delined in the 1850’s as workers looked to trade unions instead to air their grievances. Some of the Chartists demands would later be realised in part as a result of the Second Reform Act.

1847: Leeds/Bradford railway extended through to Skipton

Crest of the Midland Railway, closely allied with the Leeds-Bradford line from the outset and which would ultimately subsume it within ten years of opening. Unaltered image, original by Ashley Dace, CC-BY-SA 2.0

Crest of the Midland Railway, closely allied with the Leeds-Bradford line from the outset and which would ultimately subsume it within ten years of opening. Unaltered image, original by Ashley Dace, CC-BY-SA 2.0

The 1840’s saw many improvements in the expanding railway network throughout Great Britain. The extension of the Leeds-Bradford railway past Shipley was yet one more reason for Salt to locate his new mill within what would later become Saltaire. For the first time it was possible to transport goods by rail between Manchester and Bradford.

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