Two years ago, on a buying trip to England, I attended the Saltaire Vintage Home and Fashion Fair. Held in the town of Saltaire, on the outskirts of Bradford in West Yorkshire, this vintage show is held several times a year. A medium-sized show with approximately 40 booths, I found several great pieces of jewelry including a wonderful dangling hinged paste brooch, an Art Deco double-clip brooch, a modernist ring, and a Ming’s brooch.
The Ming’s brooch was an unusual find for England as it was made in Hawaii in the 1950’s. When I asked the dealer about it it turned out that she had bought it in California, near where I live; I, in turn, sold it to a collector in Hawaii. This brooch had travelled the world for over 50 years and finally returned home!
Though the vintage fair was good, it wouldn’t warrant a special trip from London, or farther afield, on its own; however, the town of Saltaire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and together they make for a great excursion.
Saltaire is a Victorian mill town that was built from 1851-1868 by Sir Titus Salt, an enlightened capitalist who believed in providing his workers with decent living conditions. Designated a World Heritage Site because of its remarkable architectural integrity, there have been no changes to the layout and overall appearance of Saltaire since construction began in the 1850’s according to UNESCO.
Historic buildings include the mill, worker’s housing, a Church, and a beautiful park along the river. The town is lovely to walk around, with historic buildings to tour and nice places to eat and shop. I attended the Vintage Fair in September which coincided with the Saltaire Festival, and there were food stalls serving traditional Yorkshire fare at which I grabbed a delicious lunch.
But the town features one thing in particular that makes it worth a special trip. The original mill building has been converted into shops and galleries; this ordinarily wouldn’t be worth a mention, since most conversions of this sort are filled with uninteresting gift shops, chain stores, etc. Salt’s Mill couldn’t be farther from this.
The enormous main factory floor contains a book store and gallery whose walls are lined with a major collection of works on paper by Bradford-born artist David Hockney plus other gallery spaces within the building filled with Hockney’s work. At the time of this writing, this other gallery space is featuring three 27-foot long works by Hockney plus recent portraits of friends and family. Though I was aware that there was a gallery of Hockney’s work in Saltaire before I visited, I was expecting a small gallery, not an exhibit on par with those seen in major museum retrospectives. And after wandering through the Hockney galleries in the building there are additional gallery spaces with exhibits about the history of Saltaire, a large antique shop, plus a cafe to visit.Shareby