Titus, was clearly a man of vision, who decided to take his mill and his workforce out of the squalor of Bradford to the clean open country beside the River Aire. Sensible he chose to build his mill between the canal and the railway ensuring the best possible transportation of this cloth to the buying public. When the New Mill was being planned, between the canal and the river, there were complaints that the chimney would be a blight on the landscape. Titus’s solution was too have it styled as an Italian campanile and that is what we see today.
He built a village to house his workforce, churches for them to worship in, Institutes to improve their knowledge, schools to educate the children, playing fields to keep them fit, a hospital to keep them healthy and baths to keep them clean, but it seems that the baths were unpopular and rarely used and were soon converted to more housing.
The village is still almost exactly as it was built, except for the cars parked outside. The Mechanics Institute is now the Victoria Hall, which houses amongst other things a Museum of organs and harmoniums, but was not open when we visited.
The mills have now been converted to apartments, offices, and a NHS centre. As far we were concerned the main interest, was the ground floor1853 gallery exhibiting works by David Hockney; from his earliest to his latest. It is a vast space filled with books, pottery and art material, all displayed on interesting furniture and perfumed by the numerous vases of fresh lilies. My particular favourites were his photo collages and his painting of the mill.
Jacquie thought she had died and gone to heaven when she climbed the stairs and found herself in the Cook and Home Shop, perhaps wishing that she had a proper kitchen and home to equip.
We moved on through Hirst Lock and Swing Bridge to a delightful mooring. The River Aire chuckled along below us and the sun lit up the surrounding trees, whilst Brian and I lit the BBQ and placed a whole chicken under the lid to roast. I must admit I was a bit sceptical, but The Cobb cook book says ‘that’s what you do’ and it really did cook it well, the bonus was that it left the oven free for all the trimmings, delicious.