The United Reformed Church, Saltaire
The United Reformed Church in Saltaire is truly one of the nation's most precious Victorian architectural gems.
The church, built in 1859 in Saltaire near Bradford, West Yorkshire, is a unique example of Italianate religious architecture. It boasts many architecturally and historically important features and has been described as a classic "Cathedral of Congregationalism" To preserve Saltaire's United Reformed Church as both a living church and a priceless piece of our heritage, some £ 650,000 has recently been raised for repairs and renovation. These renovations, which have now been completed, have included re-slating one side of the roof and repairing the other, strengthening the foundations at the West end of the church and extensive repairs to the church tower.
This Grade I Listed Building (in the same category as Hampton Court Palace and Salisbury Cathedral) lies in the valley of the River Aire, at the foot of the Pennine Moors of Bronte Country and at the entrance to the Yorkshire Dales. Paid for out of his own pocket by Sir Titus Salt, the church is a focal point of the "model" village he built for the workers at his huge mill to ensure their spiritual needs were catered for. Sir Titus commissioned architects Lockwood and Mawson to design the building, as they had a number of other important Italianate buildings in Bradford's city centre.
The entrance is up six steps under a portico supported by six unfluted Corinthian columns and topped by a fretted tower with cupola. Fittingly, the Mausoleum built onto the church contains the remains of Sir Titus Salt himself: Inside are hollow Corinthian columns with beautiful Scagliola exteriors, fashioned by Italian craftsmen. Two ornate chandeliers ormolu and cut glass hang from the ceiling, of such great weight that additional roof trusses had to be inserted to support them. Originally lit by gas, they were made by Hausburg of Liverpool.
The existing organ, built by Peter Conacher and Co. of Huddersfield, was installed in 1890, rebuilt at the end of the Second World War, and again in 1991 by Michael Fletcher, a local organ builder now the church organist, the cost being raised by church members. Only by visiting the United Reformed Church can you fully appreciate its architectural splendours and the reason why it provides such a welcoming centre for worship and praise which reaches out across religious boundaries.
The regular congregation has in recent years raised, through grants and the members efforts, more than £ 650,000 for renovations and even now need more funds for further renovation and maintenance of the building. The church rooms and facilities below the building are greatly in need of modernisation and the ornate interior of the church itself is in need of redecoration, a task that is expected to cost well over £100,000. Nevertheless the decoration, is even now, very attractive to admire when exploring the building.
The church has a strong congregation and members keep the building open throughout the summer months, in the afternoons, for tourists to visit. It remains open on Sunday afternoons during the whole year. Tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes are on sale when the building is open on Sundays. A small shop and exhibition displays old prints from the history of the church and Saltaire. Postcards and guides and other items are available for sale.
Services are held on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. and at other times for special occasions such as Christmas services, Good Friday and occasional evening services. Visitors are always made welcome. Concerts of light secular music are occasionally held in the church, often on a Sunday afternoon.
For further information about the church, please visit the official Saltaire United Reformed Church website.
[N.B. Please mention the Eagle Intermedia Bronte Country website when making your enquiries.]
IMPORTANT NOTE: The above photographs are the copyright of Len Morris, and the text is the copyright of the Saltaire United Reformed Church in Saltaire. As such (as with all other material appearing on this website) no part may not be copied without permission from the appropriate copyright owners.