Saltaire has long been a jewel in the crown of Bradford district but now Sir Titus Salt’s model village has been recognised nationally after it was named in first place in a top ten list of “unique” tourist destinations.

It beat picturesque Alnwick in Northumberland, the prehistoric Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, and London’s iconic OXO tower on the South Bank, in a competition celebrating Britain’s individuality and eccentricity.

Headed by TV travel expert Simon Calder, a team of judges from Best Western Hotels has spent months scouring the country to uncover the top ten must-visit but unsung locations.

He said: “Helping to track down the top ten unique places in Britain has been a joy. This is surely the time when we rediscover the hidden diamonds on our doorstep – and Saltaire is definitely one of the most valuable gems.”

Judges chose the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “striking combination of history and modernity” as well as its “on-going contribution to the local economy”, said Mr Calder.

In their comments was a special mention for Salts Mill, Saltaire’s famous golden sandstone former factory, which opened on wool baron and philanthropist Sir Titus Salt’s 50th birthday as the biggest mill in the world.

Salts Mill’s 1853 Gallery, which is “devoted to Britain’s favourite exile” David Hockney and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, was also praised by the judges.

Terraced mill cottages built for workers, boutique shops, the impressive Victoria Hall and Saltaire United Reformed Church in Victoria Road, where Sir Titus is buried, were also cited as reasons to visit the historic village.

Shipley Green Councillor Martin Love said he hoped the village’s latest accolade would add extra weight to a long-running campaign to bring a tourist information centre to Saltaire.

He said: “It is nice that Saltaire has won something like this. It is certainly a unique tourist attraction, both the village itself and the immediate area with the Shipley Glen Tramway and Baildon Moor, which are all easy to get to from the train station right in the middle of the village.

“And, with the work going on around Roberts Park, we are going to have another unique attraction for visitors and people who live locally.

“I would hope that getting an accolade like this may push the council in the right direction to get a proper tourist information centre put in Saltaire. It is something it really needs if it is to be taken seriously as a major attraction.”

A spokesman for Bradford Council said: “Other tourist destinations to make the top ten were Matlock Bath in Derbyshire, which boasts deep caverns and the Heights of Abraham cable car, and Sefton Park Palm House, Liverpool’s unique tropical three-tier greenhouse.

A spokesman for Best Western said: “By topping the list of unique places, we hope it will continue to fly the flag for the unsung destinations that this country has in bucketfuls.”

e-mail: marc.meneaud