Saltaire, near Bradford, is a World Heritage Site dominated by the huge Salts Mill, named after the man who created it, Sir Titus Salt. In the nearby streets there are also some excellent pubs, and I headed over there the other evening to check how they were doing since I had last visited the village....
I have always enjoyed visiting Saltaire, the village built around the huge former Salts Mill. The looms of the former textile mill may be gone and silent now, but is now home to an art gallery featuring works by Bradford-born David Hockney amongst others, a number of retail spaces including a huge bookshop, cafes, workshops, plus lots of independent small businesses. It sits beside the Leeds-Liverpool canal with the River Aire beyond, with the attractive Roberts Park over on the opposite bank. The train drops you off very close to the mill, and close to the model village that was built by Sir Titus to house his workers and their families. He built schools, a hospital, and the magnificent Victoria Hall, which I had visited for the Bradford Beer Festival on my last visit to the village in 2019. The one thing that Titus, a strict teetotaller didn't build was a pub, and the name of a bar/restaurant I walked past on the way to my first pub, Don't Tell Titus...., attests to this.
|Iconic: Salts Mill|
So they are all situated outside the model village, in the bits that have been built later. I had time to visit three this particular evening, and decided to visit the furthermost pub first, which is the village's micropub, Cap and Collar. This is just over 10 minutes walk from the station, and is reached by crossing two main roads, both of which always seem ridiculously busy whenever I visit. The walk takes you away from the old industrial village and into a more typical West Riding suburban area. Cap and Collar is situated just up a side street off the second of these roads, where outside, no doubt lockdown-induced, is a small enclosed seating area.
|Welcoming: Cap and Collar, Saltaire|
I walked into a busy, one-room bar, which had a pretty high table-occupancy rate with the early evening crowd. There were two cask beers on (although there are 4 hand pumps in total) and 4 beers on tap. I ordered a pint of Thornbridge Brother Rabbit and went to sit at the only free table. I took a sip of my beer. It was fantastic! Too often I have drunk bland pints of this 4.0% golden ale, but this was absolutely spot on (NBSS 4). Its true character stood out, well-balanced, with lemon, grassy notes from the Mount Hood hops atop a solid malty foundation, and it was delicious. I would have drunk it more quickly and gone back for a refill had I not taken a phone call from my eldest son. I was conscious of the time, and with a growing inclination to stop off in Bradford for a curry, I couldn't mess about. Still, I went back to the bar and ordered a half off the taps, a NEIPA from North Wales brewers, Polly's, which was also excellent. I had to go, but I can heartily recommend a visit to this friendly and popular bar which the guy behind the bar confirmed opened in 2014, and I reckon it must be about 6 years since my only previous visit.
|Cap and Collar, Saltaire|
Saltaire is also home to two breweries, although both are based outside the main village. The long-established Saltaire Brewery was joined a year or two back by Ossett Brewery's Salt which I visited after a session at the Bradford Beer Festival on my last visit to the area. No time to visit this time unfortunately, so I retraced my route and made my way to the Salt Cellar, which I had last visited a few years ago in its previous guise as the Victoria. This is a traditional old-fashioned boozer which seemed just how I remembered it from my previous visit. It is a large, rambling place which had a decent number of people enjoying a drink for a Wednesday night. A couple who I had spotted earlier at the Cap and Collar were umming and arring over what beers to order from a bank of 6 handpumps, one of which I noticed was selling a beer from a brewery I'd not heard of before, Stubee, but the beer was called Mud Puppy which was a beer brewed by the former Salamander Brewery in Bradford. Coincidence, or maybe a re-brand, change of ownership? Would be interesting to find out, as I couldn't track anything on t'internet. Anyway, when the umming and arring couple had finally got their drinks, I ordered a pint of Norr Drift from the nearby Bingley brewery. Now I have not always had a good experience with Bingley beers, but I have to say I found this 3.9% bitter well-balanced and eminently quaffable (NBSS 3.5). Typical, I was having some excellent beer this evening, but couldn't linger as I had a train to catch! I noticed there was a For Sale sign on the pub as I was taking the picture below, but its existence hadn't detracted from the atmosphere within.
|The Salt Cellar, Saltaire|
The next pub was less than 100 yards away, but it took a few minutes to get there as despite it being almost 8 o'clock there was a constant stream of traffic going in both directions on the road that separates them! I finally made it across, and headed to the iconic Fanny's Ale House, which for the first time in many a year, isn't in the current Good Beer Guide.
|Iconic: the wonderful Fanny's Ale House, Saltaire|
Fanny's is now under new ownership, and a big change is that the bar has been moved. Previously, it was based in the middle of the main downstairs room, but its position there meant it created something of a bottleneck, and service could be difficult for customers and staff alike. It has now been moved so that it runs down the left hand side as you go on, and it certainly seemed to be working better. Parts of this historic pub are lit by gaslight which gives the place a special evening glow and also led it being named Fanny's, probably after the 1940's novel, Fanny by Gaslight, by Michael Sadlier. Again the pub was quite busy for a school night and in the half hour or so I was there a steady stream of customers came in. I had a pint of Ossett White Rat which maintained the high standard of the evening's beers (NBSS 3.5), and which I enjoyed sat in the quiet room at the far end from the entrance, with its large mirrors and archways. I went upstairs to use the loo and noticed a little bar that I'm sure wasn't there last time I visited.
|New bar at Fanny's Ale House, Saltaire|
I had time for a quick half, and opted for a Glacier from Congleton-based outfit, Beartown. It was not a beer I had seen before, a 3.6% blonde which had a decent depth and balance for its ABV, and again I rated it NBSS 3.5. Incidentally, Beartown have been around since 1994 and it is good to see that they seem to be extending their portfolio after seemingly sticking with just their core range - which, let's face it, so many of the older, established breweries have also done.
|Upstairs at Fanny's, Saltaire|
I thought Fanny's was improved by these changes, and the beer quality was at least as good as it had been previously. I had to leave though to catch my train, and a few minutes later I was at the station, having walked through the quiet and still streets of this iconic village, their calmness somehow seeping into the soul. The train duly arrived, and I marched across town from Forster Square station and enjoyed a delicious keema potato and pilau rice at the excellent Kashmir before heading to the Interchange to catch a train back to Halifax.
It had been a most enjoyable evening....
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