Film ID: YFA 1420 Video of YFA 1420 Salts Mill Centenary Trip to Blackpool SALTS MILL CENTENARY TRIP TO BLACKPOOL 1953 1953 Visitor TabsDescription This black and white film was made for the centenary (1853-1953) of Salts (Saltaire) Ltd. Textile mill and depicts the factory’s employees taking a seaside trip. The film begins with a sign which reads “Blackpool trip, Victoria Hall, Saltaire: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Only. 15th, 16th, 17th July.” Employees walk down the steps of the factory, smiling to the camera and talking amongst themselves. Following this, there are various other shots of the factory exterior with employers walking around, many of the men smoking and wearing flat caps. Some men at the factory wear overalls. The Union Jack flies above an arch, the camera then moving downwards to reveal numbers which read “1853 1953 - 100 years” followed by close ups of each individual set of numbers. There is a smoking silhouetted chimney and greenhouses next to the factory. A train then pulls into a station (marked with code M937). Employees wait on the platform to board the train. Many of the women wear patterned dresses and cardigans, some peep toe flat shoes, some have kitten heels. Once they have got on, they talk, laugh, and drink tea. Everyone looks very excited. They also play cards, and one man applies lipstick whilst looking into a compact. People also read newspapers and there looks to be a lot of laughter. A railway employee pours tea. One couple has a large pile of empty beer bottles sat in front of them on their table. A middle aged woman kisses a man on the cheek for the camera. The passengers arrive at Blackpool Central station and stand in a smiling congregation in front of the camera. They then pass through the ticket barriers and exit the station. Another train (M935) arrives and delivers yet more workers to their destination. People walk along the promenade, one group in a long line with linked arms. There are often trams passing in the background. Employees enjoy the town’s attractions, for example, sitting in a car with a painted background behind for a photo opportunity, looking at stalls and watching a street performance (involving a woman in a white swimsuit), going to a bar and riding on Blackpool Pleasure Beach rides. There is also one man who has seemingly fallen asleep on a bench. There is a sign for “The Show of Shows” starring Eve Boswell and Harry Seacombe. Employees sit in the audience of a dark theatre. The camera shows the view from Blackpool tower as it ascends, giving an aerial view of the town, followed by shots from the lift descending. Context This film is from the very large and significant Collection of films made by C.H. Wood of Bradford. The YFA has recently acquired the Collection and is in the process of cataloguing it. The Collection of over 3,000 films and videos dates back to 1915, and includes commercial public relations films, as well as films for non-commercial organisations, covering special events, training films and public information films, especially road safety films – see the Context for The Magnet Cup 1960 for more on C.H. Wood. Among the Collection is another film documenting a company trip to Blackpool in celebration of its centenary: the wool-combing mill of W & J Whitehead in Laisterdyke, just outside of Bradford (which closed in 2001). Made five years later in 1958, this later film has the benefit of being in Kodachrome. The Salts Mill trip took place between Wednesday 24th and Friday 26th June 1953. Salts Mill was built by Titus Salt, who was born in Morley 1803. He inherited the wool business from his father Daniel Salt, a wool-stapler, in 1833. This went on to become the largest employer in the fast growing town of Bradford, making his fortune producing alpaca fabric. For more on the West Riding woollen industry see the Context for Wormald And Walker Blanket Mill, Dewsbury (1932 ). With over 200 factory chimneys continually churning out black sulphurous smoke Bradford had terrible pollution and regular outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, resulting in only 30% of children born to textile workers reaching the age of fifteen. Titus Salt wanted to remedy this situation, so when he consolidated his twenty factories into one he decided to do so three miles north of Bradford. Starting in 1850 this also included building a self-contained industrial community for his workforce of around 3,500, called Saltaire. As well as housing 4,300 inhabitants in 824 houses, Saltaire had a park, church, school, hospital, bathhouses, almshouses, library and shops. The houses were far superior to those typical for the working class at the time and the whole development was influential on the later garden city movement – even impressing that fierce critic of Victorian cities Charles Dickens. Although the village wasn’t completed until 1871, the factory opened on 20 September 1853, the 50th birthday of Titus Salt. It was the largest and most modern in Europe at the time (the largest in the world by floor area). Salt wanted to make it less noisy by placing underground much of the shafting which drove the machinery; and less dusty, dirty and polluting by using large flues and a chimney fitted with Rodda Smoke Burners (apparently not very successful). Unlike his philanthropic industrial contemporaries, such as George Cadbury and Joseph Rowntree, Salt was a member of the Congregational church rather than a Quaker – although he shared their enthusiasm for temperance: at the entrance to the village was the declaration, ‘Abandon beer all ye who enter here’. Yet although the Saltaire Institute didn’t sell beer, it did provide adult education, a library, a billiard room, gymnasium, art rooms and a lecture hall – see also the Context for Rowntrees Sports Day. Salt was one of those Victorian philanthropists who gave away large sums of money. He even supported the Chartist movement, until it took a more radical turn under Feargus O’ Connor – according to Jeremy Sutcliffe, he viewed public houses as potential meeting-places for trouble-makers and Chartists (References). At this point he helped to found the watered down United Reform Society. Yet Salt – and the same goes for the United Reform Society – figures little in history books of the period. Not even Bradfordian J B Priestley could find a place for him in his book Victoria's Heyday. His philanthropy was certainly the product of enlightened self-interest as much as a genuine concern for workers’ welfare, and was typically paternalistic. Some have accused him of self-aggrandisement; but most at least commend him for providing working and living conditions far better than those to be found elsewhere in Bradford (or indeed most other places). Salt served in several capacities for Bradford, including Mayor and for a short while as the Liberal Member of Parliament. The mill itself is certainly impressive. It was designed on neo-Italianate principles with a vast mill chimney based on the campanile of the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. Saltaire is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Salts Mill a Grade II listed building. It closed in 1986 but soon re-opened with a café and galleries, one housing a large collection of the work of Bradford born David Hockney. It isn’t clear which locomotive was used to take the employees on their trip, but in all probability it would have suffered the same fate as the other locomotive in the film, 44149: which ended up being scrapped at Thomas Ward’s of Sheffield at their Killamarsh site, along with 307 others – they also had scrapyards at Weedon Street, Attercliffe and Beighton. Another feature that reflects the time is the camera that the man is showing to the woman sat next to him on the train, which looks very much like a Kodak Brownie. Something else that stands out is the pipe smoking dandy looking fellow on the train posing for the camera with his pipe, wearing a cravat and a striped sporting blazer, which may well have been a university one. The beer bottles look suspiciously as if they are Melbourne Special Bitter, brewed nearby in Leeds – see Melbourne Yorkshire Beer Advert (1934). Blackpool had been the favourite holiday destination in the north of England since Victorian times , and is still the most popular seaside resort in the UK. This was especially so for the mill towns of the West Riding with their Wakes Weeks, when entire towns would close for the annual week’s holiday – see Saturday Morning Out - Halifax Etc. (1951-1965) and Wimsol Bleach Factory, Keighley (1951). When our Salts Mill revellers arrive at Blackpool we see all the usual attractions. One of them being Harry Secombe and Eve Boswell playing at the Opera House. Harry Secombe had been playing Neddie Seagoon on the BBC radio Goon Show for two years. Less well-known today, although very well-known at that time, is Eve Boswell, who was born Eva Keleti in Budapest in 1924. Multi-talented, Eve became a popular singer, starting her career with the band leader Geraldo (Gerald Bright) at the Blackpool Winter Gardens in June 1949. By January 1952 she launched herself on a solo career, and later in 1953 she played at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Coliseum alongside the likes of Tommy Cooper, Anne Shelton and Max Bygraves. In fact the Opera House in Blackpool was the venue of the first Royal Variety Performance to be held outside London, in 1955. The example of Victorian philanthropic business men is today again being held up as a way to change the world for the better. Two such proponents of this course are Matthew Bishop and Michael Green with their idea of Philanthrocapitalism. But the idea that the desperate needs of the world’s population, and of the planet, should be met through the whims of the super rich has many critics (see References). One thing is for sure: the Philanthrocapitalism of the Victorian philanthropists like Titus Salt, George Cadbury and the Rowntree family – so far as their businesses are concerned – died out some time ago. The families of those seen in the film, however, live on; and those with an interest in this can visit the Saltaire Village Website Forum (below). References Michael Edward, Just another Emperor? The myths and realities of philanthrocapitalism, Demos, 2008. Michael Edward, Small Change Why Business Won't Save the World, Berrett-Koehler, 2010 Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World, Bloomsbury Press, 2009. J B Priestley, Victoria's Heyday, Heinemann, 1972 David James, ‘Salt, Sir Titus, first baronet (1803–1876)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/24565, accessed 4 Feb 2011] Titus Salt, ‘A fortune spun from wool’, Development Trusts Association Saltaire Village Forum Denis Gifford, Obituary for Eve Boswell, The Independent Jeremy Sutcliffe, ‘Where there's a mill...’ TES, 30 July, 2004 Further Information Ian Campbell Bradley, Enlightened Entrepreneurs, 1987. Jim Greenhalf, Salt and Silver: a story of hope, 1998.