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Published November 16th 2012
Modern artist and historic figure are all a tiny town needs
A Splendid Saltaire
Visitors to Saltaire could be forgiven for believing world-renown pop artist David Hockney is the town's main attraction.
And, while his 1853 Gallery in Salts Mill is definitely a deal breaker, the main man in this place remains textile manufacturer Sir Titus Salt - the very reason the whole of Saltaire even exists (there's a clue in the name somewhere).
So, while you must take a stroll around Hockney's exhibition, which is very good of him to have one on home turf after reaching super stardom in the art world with a one-way ticket to LA, you must also explore the rest of place Salt created back in, yes, 1853.
The philanthropist built his mill on the banks of the River Aire and, upon noticing the poverty his workers were living in, he took them away from the overcrowded disease-ridden Bradford just a few miles away, and built Saltaire for them.
Rumour has it that his generosity wasn't without strict living rules, hence the now-modern wine bar named Don't Tell Titus just outside the mill, however it cannot be overlooked that Salt built a community for his employees – houses, streets, churches, a hospital and park.
Sir Titus built this park on the grounds of his home as a place of leisure for Saltaire's resident woolmakers. The park has been restored to its former glory in recent years and is now a green and pleasant land filled with beautiful benches, a bandstand and cricket ground.
When Robert's Park opened back in 1871, the River Aire alongside it was widened and deepened so swimming and boating could be enjoyed.
A semi-circular pavilion was built in the centre of the park, which is now home to the Half Moon Cafe.
There is a diner and cafe within the restored walls and the whole place is a wonderful mixture of old and new.
Commercial spaces still take on an artistic feel, with handmade jewellers, antiques, book and art shops in residence.
Exhibition space changes regularly.
[ADVERT]The old charm of Saltaire is still very much present and has thankfully been looked after thanks to its World Heritage Site-status, which is especially important as modern-day sprawl has meant it has been swallowed up as part of Bradford's suburbia.
It offers a rather upmarket atmosphere for those migrating away from the city centre looking for something a little classier. Restaurants, wine bars, pubs and independent quirky shops can now be found in Saltaire.
Other buildings with the wow-factor include the United Reformed Church and former Factory School, both built by Salt.