Guided Tour of Salts Mill

I was recently invited on a guided tour of Salts Mill by an Arris group called RISE (Relationships, Inspiration, Success and Empowerment.) and though I have been around many parts of the Mill in the past it is still good fun. Arris, when they were known as Pace, were one of the first companies to move into Salts Mill so they have a long relationship with Salts Estates and all the people on the tour were, or had been, Pace/Arris employees wanting to see a bit more of the iconic building they work in.

The photos from this tour can be seen in an album on flickr here.
They are also in a more general Salts Mill album here. And for views from the chimney of the mill have a look at this album here.

As usual you can click on any of the images below to view them on flickr.

Robin Silver started the tour for us with some of the history of Salts, Salts Mill and his brother Jonathan Silver before we then followed our guides, Steve and Mark from Salts Estates.


Steve explained that there used to be three sloping cobbled routes between the mill building down to the canal but they had been built over as the building use changed. This photo is taken from the canal end of one of the routes that is in the process of being cleared.

The digger is now down 1 level, another 1 to go

Several years ago a concrete and glass building and two floors were removed with the intention of creating Salts Piazza. This photo is from 2007 showing some of the major work in progress. It was taken from one of the windows that can be seen at the far end of the previous photo. Other photos of the work being done can be seen in the flickr album.

The Salts Piazza

The photo above, taken in 2016, was taken at ground level. There is still a lot of cleaning and tidying to be done on the other side of the painted screen.

The small “dots” you can see at the top of the blue painted area of the far wall are holes left after the concrete and steel water tanks were removed. They are now nest holes for pigeons, Jackdaw and Kestrels. You can see photos of these Kestrels in this album here.


This is a view of one of the lower levels with my back to the canal.


A vaulted brick ceiling.


More cobbled and sloping passageways.


Some of the remnants related to the work that used to go on at Salts Mill


And a store room for drive belts that would have been used in the later years of manufacturing.


An electric motor with pump attached on a wooden trolley.


One of the service passageways.


Yet more passages.


A store of old documents and catalogues from one of the later businesses to use Salts Mill before its closure and before Jonathan opened it up again.


The archways in the lower parts of the mill are made of substantial stonework.


Under the North-East section of the mill is a 500,000 gallon reservoir and every third cast iron pillar in parts of the mill is hollow to pipe the rain water into it. In some parts of the mill pressing your ear to a pillar and listening for the flow of water is a sure way of telling whether it is raining or not. This photo is of a vertical overflow pipe from the reservoir under the mill that then pipes the water under the canal to the river. You can see more photos of this in the album.


We are now getting towards the end of the tour guided by Steve and Mark. This is under the North West part of the mill. You can see some of what I think is air-conditioning equipment for the Pace/Arris offices.

Before moving to Salts Mill Pace used to be in one of five industrial units off Dockfield Rd. They needed to expand so made enquiries about moving into more of the industrial units. The owner of them thought that there was no future in the electronics business so said “No”. Pace then talked to Jonathan about Salts Mill. As a result Pace moved in and were up and running very quickly.


We then met up with Robin again in the roof space of the main part of the Mill. This space runs the full length of the mill and is quite impressive. Leeds Photographic Society use this for some of their exhibitions so their exhibitions are worth going to see if only to see the Salts Mill roof space.


Robin again told us a bit more about history and structure of the mill.


This is quite an impressive timber roof structure. Mark is just going to retrieve someone who had wandered off.


Tannoys and fans dumped in what was probably a supervisors office.


There are several things on display near the main public entrance


This is one of the machines on display at the mill.


Here we are with Robin Silver finishing off the tour in front of some of the many David Hockney works of art before we went through for coffee and cake.

One of the interesting things that Robin talked about was the company ethos of bringing together art, technology and business with no government support. Salts Mill is well worth a visit. Though you won’t be able to shine your torch in the cellars and passageways you will be able to visit the 1853 Gallery for art, books & materials, view David Hockney art work, eat at Salts diner, browse The Book Shop, have a coffee or lunch at Cafe into the Opera, see the People and Process Exhibition, buy modernist furniture, homewares or designer gifts at The Home, rummage through Carlton Antiques, view more of the Saltaire History Exhibition, have a coffee at the Espresso Bar, buy something for your loved one, or yourself, from Kath Libbert Jewellery, try out a new bike at All Terrain Cycles, get your outdoor/trekking clothing from Trek and Trail or see and buy from a collection of renaissance and baroque musical instruments at the Early Music Shop. And that’s saying nothing about the other places to go whilst in Saltaire.

River, Canal & Buck Mill

I have been down to the river Aire with my camera a couple of times this month. On the first trip I managed to spot Kingfisher, Bullfinch and a few other birds, plenty of Mallard and a few Goosander. The second trip was earlier in the day because I wanted to get to Buck Mill with the sun a bit higher in the sky but when I got down to Denso Marston Nature Reserve I decided to take the long way.

As usual you can click on the images below to view them and others within the album on flickr.


At one of the bird feed stations at the reserve rats were the most frequent visitors. They have made several tunnels under one of the feeding tables.


Robins, like this ringed one, didn’t seem too put off by the rats.


Nor did the Dunnocks. Up in the trees were quite a few Longtailed Tit flitting along.


While watching a few moving through the trees I heard a pair of Goldcrests so I spent a bit of time watching and trying to get a photo. They just do not stop moving so it is not easy.

This one, and another two in the album on flickr, are rotated left by 90 degrees. For some reason the photos didn’t look natural with the bird stuck on the side of the branch.

Ex Package Air Conditioning

When I said I took the long way I meant that I walked along the river to Lower Holme, Baildon and crossed the river behind Wickes onto Dock Lane and onto the canal bank. On the opposite side of the canal there used to be a company called PACE (Packaged Air Conditioning Equipment). It is now a housing development with their back gardens dropping down to the canal.


This part of the canal is where Swans have been known to nest. Let’s hope that the canal bank grows back and allows them to nest and breed again.

Soon after passing Metalbox along the canal you can see evidence of where bulldozers have ripped through the ground between the canal and the river. There appears to have been a lot of clearing done under the electricity pylons and a new timber supported, presumably lower voltage feed branched off. The route of the new one has meant gouging a chunk out of the side of the river valley. This leads down to and over the footpath between the river and canal at the end of Buck Lane and through the site of Buck Mill. Some of the ruins of Buck Mill have been disturbed. Hopefully there will be no more damage, a point reported on by the T & A.


This is the view from under the pylon at Buck Mill.

Buck Mill Ruins

With some of the clearing that has been done it is easier to see some of the Buck Mill ruins

Buck Mill Ruins

The route of the goit can be seen.

Buck Mill Ruins

Many of the building’s stones are covered with a thick coat of lichen.

Buck Mill Ruins

This is the remains of one of the walls at right-angles to the canal.

Buck Lane Bridge

After wandering about the ruins for a few minutes I then walked across the bridge and home.