Salt, Titus (DNB00)

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SALT, Sir TITUS (1803–1876), manufacturer, was the son of Daniel Salt, white cloth merchant and drysalter, of Morley in the West Riding of Yorkshire, by his wife Grace, daughter of Isaac Smithies of Morley. He was born there on 20 Sept. 1803. When Salt was about ten years old his father gave up his business, and took a farm at Crofton in Wakefield. Titus was educated at the Heath grammar school, Wakefield. In 1820 he was placed with Mr. Jackson of Wakefield to learn the wool-stapling business, and in 1822 entered the mill of Messrs. Rouse & Son of Bradford, where he spent two years. The elder Salt, not succeeding with his farm, removed in 1822 to Bradford, where he started in business as a wool-stapler, at a time when the worsted trade was shifting its quarters to Bradford. Titus Salt joined his father as partner in 1824. He first showed his enterprise by introducing Donskoi wool for worsted manufacture. The difficulty of dealing with this Russian wool, owing to its rough and tangled nature, had hitherto prevented its use in the worsted trade. Salt, finding himself unable to persuade manufacturers to make use of the wool, determined to do so himself, and after careful experiment fully succeeded, by means of special machinery which he set up in Thompson's mill, Bradford. After this discovery his business rapidly increased, and in 1836 he was working on his own account four mills in Bradford.

In 1836 Salt made a first purchase from Messrs. Hegan & Co. of Liverpool of alpaca hair. Though no novelty in this country, the hair was practically unsaleable owing to difficulties attending its manufacture, and a consignment of three hundred bales had long lain in the warehouses of the Liverpool brokers. Salt saw in this despised material a new staple, bought the whole quantity, and, after much investigation, produced a new class of goods, which took the name of alpaca. He rapidly developed his discovery, and acquired considerable wealth. He was elected mayor of Bradford in 1848, and, after some hesitation as to whether he should retire from business, began to build in 1851, a few miles out of Bradford above Shipley on the banks of the Aire, the enormous works which eventually grew into the town of Saltaire. The main mill, with its five great engines and some three miles of shafting, was opened amid much rejoicing in September 1853. From a sanitary point of view the new works were much superior to the average factory then in existence. Especial provision was made for light, warmth, and ventilation. Eight hundred model dwelling-houses, with a public dining-hall, were provided for the workpeople, and during the next twenty years the great industrial establishment was methodically developed. A congregational church was completed in 1859; factory schools and public baths and washhouse in 1868; almshouses, an infirmary, and club and institute were added in 1868–9, and the work completed by the presentation of a public park in 1871. Money throughout was spent unsparingly, and Saltaire became, through the care of its owner and originator, the most complete model manufacturing town in the world.

In 1856 Salt was elected president of the Bradford chamber of commerce, and at the general election in April 1859 he was returned to represent Bradford in the House of Commons. Though holding strong liberal and nonconformist opinions, he was no active politician, and retired from the representation in February 1861. He was created a baronet in September 1869.

Salt will be remembered in the history of British commerce as the establisher of a new industry and the founder of a town, and as one of the first of great English manufacturers who recognised to the full the requirements of those employed by them, and who made the cost of providing for the sanitary and domestic welfare of the wage-earners a first charge on the profits of the concern.

He died on 29 Dec. 1876, and, at the request of the corporation of Bradford, was accorded a public funeral; he was buried in a mausoleum at Saltaire.

He married, in 1829, Caroline, youngest daughter of George Whitlam of Great Grimsby, by whom he left a family of eleven children. Lady Salt was always interested in his benevolent undertakings, which she continued after his death. By his will she and her eldest son had the disposal of the almshouse, hospital, institute, and schools at Saltaire, and of an endowment fund of 30,000l. They created the Salt trust in 1877, and left the institute and high schools to the control of the governors of the Salt schools. In 1887 they also transferred to the governors the hospital, almshouse, and endowment fund of 30,000l. Lady Salt died at St. Leonard's on 20 April 1893, and was buried at Saltaire.

There is in the possession of the family a portrait of Sir Titus Salt, by J. P. Knight, R.A., presented to him by public subscription in 1871; and a bust by T. Milnes, presented by the people of Saltaire in 1856. A statue, by Adams Acton, was erected in 1874, and stands near the town-hall, Bradford.

[Times, 30 Dec. 1876; Illustrated London News, 2 Oct. 1869 (with portrait); Leeds Mercury, 30 Dec. 1876 and 22 April 1893; Balgarnie's Life of Sir Titus Salt; Holroyd's Saltaire and its Founder; Reports on Paris Universal Exhibition, 1867, vol. vi.]

W. C.-r.