THE concept of the model village grew from the squalid conditions that mill-workers lived in as the Industrial Revolution gained momentum.

With the advancement of industrial machinery, and the swelling of profits, came a growing awareness that something had to be done about the overcrowded, disease-ridden houses and streets which workers left in droves each dawn to work in equally poor conditions in factories and mills.

But the industrial village wasn’t just about "altruism, philanthropy or paternalism", writes Paul Chrystal in his book Old Saltaire and Shipley. “The welfare could never exist without the business, and profitable business at that. The difference between the industrialist who built his model village and the average factory owner was that the benefactor felt the need to reinvest his profits for the betterment of his workers while at the same time benefitting from a stable, more productive, comparatively happy workforce.”

The driving force behind Saltaire, says Paul, was a desire to maximise profits while improving the social and industrial welfare of the workforce. Where Sir Titus Salt led, others followed - Bournville for Cadbury workers, Port Sunlight for the Lever workforce and New Earswick near York for employees of Rowntree.

Paul Chrystal’s book traces the history of Saltaire and neighbouring Shipley, which came alive with the Industrial Revolution; capitalising on water and steam power to drive its mills. Boots, nails and bricks were also made in Shipley, while the area’s 20 or so quarries made quarrying and building another significant local industry. Shipley quickly became everything that Saltaire wasn’t - “dreadfully overcrowded, polluted, insanitary and a reservoir for deadly diseases”.

The book profiles Titus Salt, born in Morley, who started work as an apprentice wool-stapler in Wakefield and moved on to William Rouse & Son in 1822. In 1824 he joined his father as wool buyer and partner in Daniel Salt & Son, wool-staplers in Bradford’s Piccadilly. He took over the business in 1833 and by 1853, as a worsted stuff manufacturer, he was the largest employer in Bradford, with both factory workers and others combing and weaving in homes in Little Horton, Baildon and Allerton. Using alpaca wool, creating the fashionable cloth popular with stylish ladies (including Queen Victoria, who sent him wool from her two alpacas to make into cloth for dresses) Salt made his fortune. As well as being a wealthy wool man, he championed radical causes. He was Chief Constable of Bradford in 1847 and an alderman, he commissioned a report on ‘moral conditions’, leading to the Bradford Town Mission and the city’s first park (Peel Park).

Old Saltaire and Shipley offers a fascinating insight into village life, at work and play. A series of striking images - photographs, drawings and paintings - depict conditions in which mill-workers lived and worked at the time when Saltaire was being established, and in later years. Two 14-year-old girls are pictured at Salts Mill in 1930; one of them carrying a hook on a string around her waist to wind yarn onto a spinning frame. Other female workers are pictured operating ‘dolly’ roller ring twisting machines which combined and strengthened individual yarns.

“Dyeing has always been a highly toxic process. In Salt’s day there was the added danger that workers were directly exposed to the toxins and fumes, with no help from masks or other protective clothing,” writes Paul. A group of such workers appear on an early 20th century photograph.

Saltaire's schools, infirmary church stand proud on smart clean streets, doorsteps scrubbed, with moorland rising above. The Congregational Church, with its Classical design, was sited so it was “only too visible from the mill”. Built in 1859, it was significantly Salt’s first public building, seating 600 people. A charming photograph from July, 1925 shows pupils at Albert Road Mixed School sitting in rows in a practical arithmetic lesson, with tin cans piled up on the teacher's desk.

Also depicted in the book are workers at leisure, from an 1882 image of the British Fabric Ball, at Shipley Hall, to families enjoying a ride on the Shipley Glen Tramway in the 1930s. Three young women are perched on rocks at Shipley Glen in 1910, by which time it was a popular beauty spot.

Early transport links are also highlighted. The Number 22 trolleybus trundles along Gordon Terrace, on the southern boundary of Saltaire. The crew of a steam tram stand next to their vehicle, shortly before the corporation take-over of the service at the start of the 20th century. A train approaching Shipley station in the 1940s delivers milk as well as passengers. Labourers unload coal from a barge into a boiler house at the side of Bradford Canal.

And Saltaire Fire Brigade are pictured in 1935 outside the mill. "Volunteers provided fire watching cover for the mill and village. They were particularly busy during the Second World War," writes Paul, who reveals that another Saltaire Village stands on Fire Island in New York State, where the Saltaire Volunteer Fire Company was formed in 1969. In 2010 the island's population was 37.

* Old Saltaire and Shipley, Stenlake Publishing Ltd, £9. Visit