I lived in Leeds for eight years before visiting Saltaire, and in the end I did it in the name of love. My second date with my now wife was Wednesday lunch and a wander around Salt’s Mill. The place was a revelation, a beautifully preserved and repurposed antidote to the north’s dark satanic mills, just a couple of bus rides from my home in Yeadon.
We finished our day with a little wander around Roberts Park, over the footbridge on the other side of the canal and river. On a February day two years ago it was a little worn and tired but we were enjoying our time together too much to worry about that.
We visit Saltaire quite often, and even considered getting married in Victoria Hall but we couldn’t decide on a date and it was booked up to a year in advance (we pretty much decided last August that we would get married in October so we ended up at Bradford Registry Office and it was no less wonderful). However, our February visits are special because they celebrate when we got together and started our story. We make a point, as well as considering lunch in Salt’s Diner and coffee in Massarellas (we combined both at Massarella’s this year as we were a bit late and didn’t have time for risotto or pizza), of visiting Roberts Park to see how the renovation is going.
The change over the last year is nothing short of miraculous. The wide promenade has been resurfaced and the shelters at either end have been restored. The bandstand has also been returned to its Victorian glory and the previously dilapidated cricket club building has been restored as the Half Moon Cafe by the cricket club who play in the park to provides snacks to visitors and a regular dining club. There’s a new skate park by the weir, which waswell attended on our cold Sunday afternoon visit.
Titus himself stands by the promenade flanked on his plinth by alpacas. The park’s restoration was financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and I think that Salt would be pleased that such altruism still exists in the twenty-first century.
The next time that you visit Saltaire, walk down past the station and the The Boathouse Inn and across the bridge. Roberts Park is a quiet wonder that should be an important part of the village.
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