The Octopus and the Church: Two Things I Found in Saltaire

Yesterday, in a valiant effort to outrun the January blues, I got on a train to Saltaire, primarily so I could visit Salts Mill. This huge restored Victorian Mill, built by the entertainingly named Sir Titus Salt in 1853, is now home to an art gallery, restaurant and shops. Some parts of the interior architecture – especially Gallery 2 – still retain something of the dark, ‘satanic’ feel alluded to in literature of the time. It is a nice, atmospheric place to spend a few hours. There is a permanent exhibition of paintings by David Hockney – not one of my favourite artists, but it’s a good opportunity to see work by a very popular painter for free – and a wonderful bookshop which any bibliophile will appreciate.

On the way to the Mill, two things caught my eye. The first was an octopus sitting by the canal.


Well, to be exact, it was a sculpture of an octopus. He’s the first of several characters which make up the Aire Sculpture Trail that runs along a short stretch of the canal near the Mill. These are great fun and show how art can add something delightful to a place.I thought it was particularly nice that they had taken the time to design something that kids could enjoy – the octopus certainly appealed to the kid in me!

The second thing that stood out to me was this beautiful building.

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The Saltaire United Reform Church was also built by Sir Titus Salt in 1859. Clearly, he wanted to make his mark on the town! Described as a unique example of Italianate religious architecture, it immediately caught my attention.

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I particularly loved the effect created by the columns which somehow suggested thought and reflection. In fact, more than a place of religious worship, it felt to me more like the exterior of a particularly fine library. Even on a bleak and cold January morning, it was a pleasure to look at.

I enjoyed visiting Saltaire and discovering some of what it had to offer. There was also rather a nice park, full of hungry geese who could clearly spot tourists a mile off.Geese are nice off course, but hopefully, I’ll encounter some more octopi on my travels.


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