Pippa Oldfield & John Oxley

Showing in Open Houses - Resident Artist
Milner Field: Saltaire’s Forgotten Ruin: In the Victorian era, royal carriages clattered up the coach road and gardeners toiled in pineapple-filled hothouses. By the Second World War, roof-tiles were commandeered to repair Salt’s Mill, and the Home Guard used the estate as a rifle range. Today, joggers and dog-walkers crisscross a site of tumbled brick and stone, fleetingly aware of a Roman-style mosaic floor beneath their feet.
Milner Field: Saltaire’s Forgotten Ruin explores Saltaire’s least-recognised site: the mansion built in 1869 by Titus Salt Jnr., son of Sir Titus Salt. Constructed on the north slopes of the Aire Valley overlooking Saltaire, no expense was spared in the design of this grand building. The grounds featured a boating lake and croquet lawn; an imposing Victorian Gothic arch greeted visitors; and the interiors boasted Turkish carpets, alabaster fireplaces, and murals by eminent London artists.

Milner Field was not only the home of Titus Salt Jnr. and his family, but also that of subsequent managers and directors of Salts Mill until 1930. However, Milner Field was then allowed to fall into disrepair. Today virtually nothing remains of this once opulent mansion that was inextricably linked to the fortunes of the Salt empire.

Over several years, the artists (an archaeologist and a photography curator) have been photographing and researching the remains of the house and its grounds. They will present contemporary photographs of the now-overgrown site alongside archive material, historical texts, and archaeological objects. The exhibition offers a tantalizing glimpse of a fascinating aspect of Saltaire history, inviting the viewer to imaginatively reconstruct a lost past.

With thanks to Saltaire Stories and the volunteers of the Saltaire Archive at Shipley College.