The photograph immediately below, caption and text by the author, 2011. [You can use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.] The lion sculpture Peace first appeared in "Salt and Light: Incorporating Saltaire Daily Photo," and was kindly provided in higher resolution by Saltaire blogger and photographer "jennyfreckles," who retains the copyright.

Victoria Hall. The building was originally called the Saltaire Club but referred to as the "Mechanics' Institute" in The Building News (see "Statues, Memorials, &c."), and now it is known as Victoria Hall. Lockwood & Mawson. Opened 1871. Ashlar stone. Victoria Road, Saltaire, Yorkshire. Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

The lion licking its paw represents Peace.

A two-storey building with a basement, the club has eleven bays and was built on a T-plan ("Saltaire: Conservation," 29). It was designed as a working men's institute with all sorts of educational and recreational facilities, from a lecture hall, reading room and library to billiards and bagatelle rooms — see note below. It had a gymnasium, drill room, other meeting rooms, and a kitchen as well. Prominently sited early on the main route down to the mill, it is set back off the road behind railings (the original railings are no longer there) and guarded by two grand, individualised lions on the corner piers. These represent War and Peace, and complement another pair in front of the building opposite, the former factory school.

The Victoria Hall itself has great presence, so much so that it looks much more like a town hall than an institute. Its central tower ends in a "steep truncated pyramidal roof" (Leach and Pevsner 682) which stands high above the roofs of nearby houses In the tympanum over the central portal is the Salt coat-of-arms, with carved figures of Art and Science on either side — like the lions and the bust of Salt in the United Reformed Church, these were the work of Yorkshire-born Thomas Milnes. Thus, while there was clearly "no shortage of amenities" in Salt's model town (Curl 168), there were also no shortage of distinguished architecture and inspiring public sculpture.

Note

One type of "public building" was notably absent from Saltaire: the public house. Salt had been horrified by the crimes he encountered when he sat on the grand jury in Leeds, putting them all down to "drink and lust." So "with paternal solicitude for the moral and physical health of his people, he resolved that no public-house should be planted in their midst" (Bangarnie 227). The billiards and bagatelle rooms, and other recreational facilities at the Institute, were intended to provide more wholesome forms of recreation. Similar thinking would one day produce a proliferation of Temperance Billiard Halls.

Related Material

References

Balgarnie, Rev.R. Sir Thomas Salt, Baronet: His life and Its Lessons. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1878. Internet Archive. Web. 23 September 2011.

Curl, James Stevens. Victorian Architecture. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1990.

Leach, Peter, and Nikolaus Pevsner. Yorkshire West Riding, Leeds, Bradford and the North. The Buildings of England series. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2009.

Saltaire: Conservation Area Assessment, March 2004. Bradford Metropolitan District Council. Web. 23 September 2011.

"Statues, Memorials, &c." Building News and Engineering Journal, Vol. 17. 15 October 1869: 296. Google Books. Web. 23 September 2011.

Further Reading

Jackson, Neil, Jo Lintonbon and Bryony Staples. Saltaire: The Making of a Model Town. Reading : Spire, 2009.


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Last modified 10 October 2011