Sir Titus Salt (1803–1876)

Sir Titus Salt was one of the most eminent entrepreneurs in Victorian Britain, and left a lasting legacy of buildings. He was born at Morley, Yorkshire, the son of a woolstapler who traded in Bradford. He was apprenticed in 1820 to a woolstapler in Wakefield, and for ten years from 1824 worked for his father’s company.

The understanding that he gained of the qualities of various types of wool was the foundation of his commercial success. He started his own business in 1834, importing Donskio wool from eastern Europe, and developing the manufacture of worsted mixture fabrics, combining alpaca wools and mohair with cotton and silk. By 1850 he owned five mills and in addition gave employment to many outworkers.

He was supposedly contemplating retirement in the early 1850s, but decided instead to build a new mill north of Bradford, which was opened in 1853, to which he added one of Europe’s most extensive industrial villages. The mill was designed by the Bradford architects Lockwood & Mawson. The 824 houses in the village of Saltaire accommodated 4300 people by 1871. Salt was a Congregationalist by religion, and constructed a fine chapel for that denomination at Saltaire.

He held many public offices in Yorkshire, but made little impact when he served as a Member of Parliament for two years from 1859.