Titus Salt

(20 September 1803 – 29 December 1876)

Born in Morley, Sir Titus Salt was a manufacturer, politician and philanthropist in Bradford.

In 1833 he took over his father’s textile business and expanded it to own 5 mills and become the largest employer in Bradford. He was the creator of the lustrous and subsequently fashionable cloth called ‘alpaca’ made from the fleece of alpacas from Peru.

Salt is best known for having built Salts Mill, a large textile mill and having a paternalistic attitude to his work force with the creation of the model workers’ village of Saltaire. This provided improvements in living conditions for the workers and included good housing, public baths, a school, a church, a hospital and a public park

Salt was Chief Constable of Bradford in 1847 and a senior alderman. He was the second mayor, in office from 1848–49, and was later Deputy Lieutenant for the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1857 he was President of the Bradford Chamber of Commerce and served as Liberal Member of Parliament for Bradford from 1859 until he retired through ill health in 1861. On 30 October 1869 he was created a Baronet, of Saltaire and Crow Nest.

1st Titus Salt Statue
Lister Park, Bradford 9

Grade II listed, Figure: white carrara marble, Sculptor – Mr. John Adams-Acton
Canopy: sandstone, designed by Town hall architects, carved by Farmer & Brindley

Salt was so well respected that, most unusually, his statue was built in his honour during his lifetime. It was originally erected outside the town hall in 1874, but then moved to its current site in 1896. The statue sits within an ornate canopy which is a scaled down version of the Albert Memorial in London and includes small statues of allegorical figures representing Justice, Peace, Temperance and Charity.

2nd Titus Salt Statue
Roberts Park, Saltaire, Bradford 17

Grade II listed, bronze on ashlar base, Sculptor – Francis Derwent Wood

Erected in 1903 this statue was the gift of James Roberts, the director of Saltaire Mills at that time. It commemorates the centenary of Salt’s birth and the golden jubilee of the opening of his great factory. The bronze plaques on the base include an inscription to Salt and illustrations of an alpaca and an angora goat.

Salt Today

Following the decline of Bradford’s textile industry in the 1980s, Salts Mill was bought by Jonathan Silver and transformed into a retail-complex and art gallery, exhibiting the work of Bradford-born artist David Hockney. In 2001 Saltaire was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Saltaire was recognised as one of the world’s earliest, largest and best preserved nineteenth century ‘model villages’. As well as being a desirable place to live the site now attracts tourists and visitors from across the UK.

Salt’s statues both in Saltaire and Lister Park continue to honour him as a great man. He is celebrated as both a successful industrialist, who provided his workers with unprecedented living standards and a philanthropist who donated liberally to good causes. He was also a strict Methodist and followed a faith which denounced slavery.
However, like so much of industrial growth in Britain in the 19th century, there is a link with slavery in his success. Much of Salt’s fortune was made on the production of a cloth using alpaca which was woven on a cotton thread. Most cotton at that time had been produced by enslaved people in the southern states of America.