Saturday, 25 February 2012

Victoria Hall Saltaire

It is very difficult to get a shot showing all of the Victoria Hall building. This shot is of the top right corner highlighting the structures on the roof.


Victoria Hall. The building was originally called the Saltaire Club but referred to as the "Mechanics' Institute" in The Building News (see "Statues, Memorials, &c."), and now it is known as Victoria Hall. Lockwood & Mawson. Opened 1871. Ashlar stone. Victoria Road, Saltaire, Yorkshire.

A two-storey building with a basement, the club has eleven bays and was built on a T-plan It was designed as a working men's institute with all sorts of educational and recreational facilities, from a lecture hall, reading room and library to billiards and bagatelle rooms . It had a gymnasium, drill room, other meeting rooms, and a kitchen as well. Prominently sited early on the main route down to the mill, it is set back off the road behind railings (the original railings are no longer there) and guarded by two grand, individualised lions on the corner piers. These represent War and Peace, and complement another pair in front of the building opposite, the former factory school.

The Victoria Hall itself has great presence, so much so that it looks much more like a town hall than an institute. Its central tower ends in a "steep truncated pyramidal roof" (Leach and Pevsner 682) which stands high above the roofs of nearby houses In the tympanum over the central portal is the Salt coat-of-arms, with carved figures of Art and Science on either side — like the lions and the bust of Salt in the United Reformed Church, these were the work of Yorkshire-born Thomas Milnes. Thus, while there was clearly "no shortage of amenities" in Salt's model town (Curl 168), there were also no shortage of distinguished architecture and inspiring public sculpture.

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