The building on the whole is in good condition, and is generally structurally sound. There are, however, some problems that need attention.

bell installation

A major restoration was completed in 1998. The end gable had many of its stones reseated and the roof attended to. The main roof of the building was re-slated on one side and made good on the other side with salvaged slates. The finial at the top of the tower was replaced with one identical to the original which fell off in a high wind many years ago, fortunately not hitting anyone!

The top of the tower was re-leaded as was the internal dome beneath the bell chamber. The grilles around the bell chamber were all refurbished. The grant and raised funds that were available then (£540,000) did not allow work to be achieved on the cupola around the base of the tower. [Image: Restoration work in 1998]

In 2003 a new ring of bells was installed. The original ring of bells had been removed during the Second World War. The current bells were kindly donated by Ms Maggie Silver, a local benefactor and trustee of the Salts Trust that now manages the mill complex. The bells are now regularly rung for services and weddings and a tower fund is in existence, building up for their future maintenance.

rusting beam
Rusting beam beneath the canopy.
water damage
Water damage beneath the canopy.

Immediate Renovation Work

Phase one, of a wider plan, is to renovate the portico. The cupola canopy leading above the portico and defective timbers need to be replaced. The main entrance steps to the portico at the east end of the church under the canopy need to be reseated, and the beams within the canopy roof void need to be strengthened. Current rusting support brackets will be removed. Work on this started in April 2010 when the funds were secured. The cost of the renovation of the cupola at the base of the tower is costing £260,000.

rotting beams revealed
Rotting timbers revealed during phase 1 work

New canopy timbers
New timber roofing put in place

Images © Bill Glaister of Wales, Wales and Rawson, Architects.

Phase two of the project is to renovate the Mausoluem that houses Sir Titus Salt and his family, the windows of the church and the statues of Sir Titus Salt and the Angel Gabrielle. This work is cost £224,000. The work on the Mausoleum roof and interior and the restoration of the windows was completed on 18th May. The restoration of the sculptures in the Mausleum and church vestibule remains however.

The Mausoleum can now be inspeced in its orginal colour scheme, not seen for some one hundred years. The general view is that it is much better with greater impact than the more recent colour scheme that has been viewed for the last decades. The sculptures are due to be cleaned and repaired as the final part of this phase. The Henry Moore Foundation have promised a grant of £3000 towards this. There remains £10,000 to raise to allow work on the sculptures to be started. We hope to achieve this during 2012 but is dependent upon donations and any further grants.

The roof of the Mausoleum has now been replaced with a lead replacement look alike that has low value so as to be of no interest to theives. English Heritage gave special dispensation for this.

The Victorian windows in the main body of the church that have suffered vandalism over many years have been restored and cleaned where old remaining glass could be retained. A clear sheet is now fixed on the outside of the windows which is not obvious from inside or outside but will protect the windows from further damage.

The lighting in the carpark and beneath the front canopy has bee improved so that the car park will be well lit at night, a welcome change for those who will be using it in the winter. It also provides enhances security as it lights the outer part of the building and Mausoleum.

Further Project Work

The church is working in co-operation with Salts Trust, The College, the village organisations and the local council to improve the facilities withing Saltaire for both the local community and the many educational groups and tourists who visit each year.

It is hoped that as a part of this the lower rooms in the church will be developed to a high standard so as to create an opportunity for an education facility that can serve schools, colleges or visiting parties allowing them to pursue project work on site that will contribute to their curricular studies or research work or indeed just be interesting. To achieve this the kitchen will need an upgrade so as to be able to supply well prepared food that will meet health and safety regulations, rather than boil water for drinks as at present. The toilets need refurbishment and should include disabled facilities. Disabled access between the body of the church and the lower floor will need to be provided.

It is hoped to provide a key archive display of the history of Saltaire withing the college building allowing all to explore the history of Saltaire. The existing church “time line” display will be enhanced and a small display area provided for occasional exhibitions.

Detailed text, images and video material would need to be created and there will need to be study stations where work could be achieved. Better design around the church rooms would also benefit the current needs and the use of the building by church, local industrial groups or the local community. This could also lead to increased income to help maintain the building in the future.

The superb decoration in the main body of the church is in good condition but showing its age! A redecoration will be needed in the future. It would not be the church members with paint brushes of course, but require the employment of expertise to maintain this wonderful interior. Mr. J. Bagnal, the original painter who left his signature on one of the columns, must not need to turn in his grave! In the much shorter time scale it is hoped to replace the carpet within the church as it is decidedly showing its age at present. We will need to raise funds from this but it is most likely to be achieved withing church funding activities rather than the restoration budget.

The total cost of future refurbishment could cost as much as £800,000 so there is plenty of fund raising to be achieved. It will need to be dealt with in manageable phases.

The History Fund Raising Activity

During 2008 an appeal was put out to local industry, businesses and the public, and discussions opened with English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Other appropriate trusts are to be approached for funds. This will be augmented by church-run fundraising activities. The work with tourism and appeals accumulated £40,000 by February 2010. Specific events are held to raise funds and a public appeal has been created to help accumulate the funding needed. At the start of 2009 a grant for Phase 1 of an English Heritage project was made amounting to £20,000 of the £30,000 needed to employ architects to define in detail what needs to be achieved in Phase 2. English Heritage also promised £130,000 towards phase two work. The remaining £90,000 was secured in April 2010 allowing the first phase of the work to commence.

A further application for part 2 of the project to restore the mausoleum, the statues and the church windows was made to English Heritage who provided £20,000 to the development phase and £125,000 towards the implementation. Further applications to trusts were made and awards have been made by the Congregational and General Insurance Co and The National Churches Trust. Fund raising events and activities continue. As of August 2010 £40,000 was needed to be able to follow on with this work. By the end of the year enough funds had been raised to be able to commence the work. However it had to be decided that the restoration of the sculptures of Sir Titus Salt in the church vestibule and of the Angel Gabriel in the Mausoleum would need to be delayed until the needed £13,000 was raised. Early in 2012 The Henry Moore Foundation promised a grant of £3000 towards the work on the sculptures and it is hoped to secure the rest of the money during 2012.

An application is expected to be made by the end of 2012 to the Heritage Lottery Fund for further work to be achieved including improvements to the building, lower rooms. There is a great deal yet to be achieved but progress has started!

You, the reader, can contribute to our fund if you wish. Saltaire United Reformed Church Building is a valuable asset. It is an actively used venue for worship and tourism, a source of education regarding the philanthropy of its founder Sir Titus Salt, and a witness to the history of a key part of the industrial heritage of the United Kingdom. Heritage matters. It is important that the church is preserved so that future generations can continue to benefit from its presence within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire. The reader is invited to contribute to the continued existence of this part of England’s Heritage for the future via justgiving.co.uk or by sending a donation. Cheques in favour of Saltaire United Reformed Church to Dr. Ian Livingstone see contacts page. If you visit the Church, which is highly recomended, you will have opportunity to put something in the “£1 restoration apeal” box.

All donations, small or large are welcome; Thank you.