All our guides have been and are still involved in not just preserving the history, but making history in Saltaire. We fully support the UNESCO world heritage site and contribute to projects, like the restoration of the Prussian blue and white street signs. We make a regular monthly contribution to the preservation and restoration of the Saltaire United Reformed Church. Our contributions have recently been used towards the restoration of the mausoleum where Sir Titus Salt is interred and the cleaning of the statues .We also provide resources for the education market, for example education packs for primary schools.
All our guides are individuals and have their unique style, opinions and character. They interact with each other, just like in real life. That’s what makes our tours so special.
Maria actually lives in Saltaire and has worked in the tourist industry for many years and is famous for being appointed Bradford District’s first Tourism Officer in 1980. She was instrumental in training the first Blue Badge Guides in Yorkshire. Not only is she a long term resident of Saltaire and an enthusiastic local historian, she is a member of Saltaire History Direct the fabulous Saltaire WI, the Saltaire Traders and supports the Saltaire Village Society, Saltaire Festival and Saltaire Inspired Her collection of fascinating facts and anecdotes bring Saltaire history to life. Her guided walks, talks and after dinner speeches are legendary and refreshingly different.
Maria’s costumed character, Mrs Ellin Dooley, is as common as muck, lives in an ordinary worker’s house on Amelia Street with her husband Henry, 12 children and another on the way.
Roger was a psychiatric social worker in his professional life, which helped him in dealing with his wife’s early-onset Alzheimer’s. His interests were in voluntary activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, the Fire Victim Support Service, and the Walking for Health Initiative, which seemed unconnected with his ultimate enthusiasm as a Saltaire historian. But in Saltaire it all came together. Salts Walks are fun, engaging for all ages and Roger gets a huge amount of satisfaction in meeting a wide range of visitors from whom he learns so much. Roger has written 2 Saltaire books; 2 Saltaire journals; makes regular contributions to the free Saltaire paper the Saltaire Sentinel; is co-founder of the History Club and volunteer at Saltaire Archives based at Shipley College. He also gets a chance to ‘perform’ as the Rev David Cowan.
The Reverend David Cowan is the minister for Saltaire Congregational Church (now the United Reformed Church) where Sir Titus Salt, his family, and the workers of Saltaire came to worship every Sunday. He lives in Albert Road with his wife, Margaret and six children. His preaching was so fierce that he was eventually run out of town after a heated disagreement with Titus Salt junior and the congregation of the church.
A former journalist, Sally gave up work to raise her two sons and used her spare time to learn foreign languages. She now speaks French, German, Spanish and Italian as well as a little Greek and Catalan. She then trained as a guide at Harewood House, Leeds, hoping to use her language skills, before joining Salts Walks in the spring of 2009. Sally is also secretary to Bradford Circle for Foreign Languages, a group that coincidentally meets in Eldon Place, a building once owned by Sir Titus Salt.
Mrs Caroline Hill is the wife of Saltaire’s security chief, Colonel Thomas Henry Hill. They live in the second biggest house in the village at 47 Titus Street. A mother of four children, she nevertheless leads a very lonely existence as her husband spends much of his time in the watchtower above their home, looking out for anyone who breaks the strict rules of Saltaire. She longs for her former life in India, where she was born and brought up.
Sheila is an actor and singer; a member of West Riding Opera and the Glen Singers. She appeared in ‘After the War is Over’ in 2012, playing a First World War nursing sister for Saltaire UNESCO World Heritage Site and most recently she played Sister Milton in ‘Not About Heroes’.
She is currently guiding for Salts Walks, playing the character of Matron Sarah Turner, a trained ‘Nightingale Nurse’. The first matron to be appointed at Salt’s Hospital, her mantra in life is ‘to purge, or not to purge?’ Sheila’s specialism is 19th Century medicine.
Viv Swaine was born locally and after attending St Joseph’s College, studied at Sheffield University. She then spent 40 years teaching English language in Spain, London and Oxford before finally returning to Yorkshire in 2011. Viv now lives in the village and enjoys singing with Bradford Voices, painting with the Saltaire Art Group, swimming at Shipley Pool, and attending Saltaire WI. She also welcomes visitors to stay as overnight guests at the Stonemason’s house.
Viv has done extensive family history research, so when she moved into the village was keen to discover more about the previous inhabitants of her house. When researching the 1871 and 1881 census details, Viv found Mrs Susan Excell, who became her character for Salts Walks. Susan was married to the chief stonemason of the village, Samuel Excell. He was a very important person in the village and so they lived in one of the large three-storey houses in Albert Road. Samuel was born in Wootton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire and was brought to Saltaire as a skilled craftsman. Susan was born locally, married Samuel and in 1871 they had five children, their daughter-in-law, a boarder, and their nephew living with them.
Helen is an experienced guide and regularly does heritage walks around Haworth and Bronte Country.
Her costumed character, Alice Charlesworth, is one of twelve children. The Charlesworth family bought a large number of the shops in Saltaire after the death of Sir Titus Salt. Alice ran the Milliner’s shop with her sister Elizabeth, at 9 Victoria Road.
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