Saltaire World Heritage Site is best known for being a Victorian project in urban regeneration: a neoclassical village on the edges of Bradford, built by industrialist Titus Salt to improve the living conditions for his textile mill employees. Less well known is its thriving brewing industry, which showcased products from the award-winning Saltaire Brewery on February 26 to 28 at the Bradford Beer Festival.
The brewery is based in the shed where electricity was once generated for, and supplied to, Saltaire’s trams. From these inspiring surroundings its products have risen to international acclaim, winning gold at the International Brewing Awards three years in a row.
Ewen Gordon, Managing Director of Saltaire Brewery, explained that the World Heritage identity remains at the heart of their products, “Being located close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire Village is so important to Saltaire Brewery that it is part of the name! It’s such a vibrant place with lots going on. It’s also a destination for real ale drinkers with some great pubs that are on the Yorkshire Real Ale Trail. We feel part of the local community and privileged to be associated with Saltaire Village.”
The Festival took place in Victoria Hall, a grade II listed building in the heart of Saltaire Village. The Hall was built in 1867 as a centre of learning and culture for village residents. Built in the same grand neoclassical style as the rest of the development, the Hall originally boasted a gymnasium, library, billiards room and a series of lecture theatres and meeting room for residents to enjoy for recreation. At a time when Dickens was documenting the shocking plight of the poor in contemporary Britain, the village had a unique egalitarian identity that attracted important figures to speak at the Hall, including Benjamin Disraeli, David Livingstone and John Ruskin.
The fruits of this labour were manifold. In his 1877 biography of Titus Salt, Reverend Balgamie notes the huge improvements to quality of life brought on by the surroundings, ‘The diseases peculiar to poverty are almost unknown to Saltaire…An accident infirmary and dispensary is erected, so that patients will be spared that great source of danger to life, haemorrhage, during the transit to a distant hospital. Hitherto there has not been a single death from this cause.’
The Beer Festival takes place annually at the World Heritage Site.