Viewing single post of blog Drawing out the threads

Yesterday I headed out to Saltaire for my first meeting with a potential participant. J’s daughter had seen one of my posters and suggested to J that she might be interested. I felt quite nervous but Dave from the History Club met me at the station and we drove up to J’s house, discussing how to approach the meeting. J lives in a village above Saltaire, and came to the door with her huge German Shepard, who was put into the kitchen where he couldn’t disturb us.

J had looked out some family photos and as she showed them, told us about her connection with Salts Mill. He grandmother had moved there from Lincolnshire with her five daughters, following a conversation with a truck driver who said that Titus Salt was looking for workers. J wasn’t sure how the arrangements were made, but Titus must have been pleased to take on six workers in a single family, because he paid for their move and they settled in Whitlam Street around the time of the first world war.

The move brought it’s own troubles, as in the space of a year, between 1923-24, three of the daughters and three grandchildren died. J wasn’t sure what happened, but it may have been TB.

J worked at Salts Mill from 1944-51, when she left to have her first child. She repaired faults in the fabric, such as knots and missing warps or wefts. It was skilled work. She worked in a team of women on the top floor of one of the mill buildings. The women all got on very well, and J is still in touch with some of them. I asked if any of them might be interested in the project and she will ask them.

We left J with an arrangement to come and visit again in May to do some recording. We headed for a cafe, and Dave phoned F, a local gentleman who has had lots of contact with the Saltaire History Club and who lives just up the road in Shipley.

F is 93, but his memory is extraordinary, and he has wonderful stories. He was at Salts Mill his whole working life, apart from a period in the army during the second world war and was responsible for costing the goods that were being produced in the factory. He and Dave spent a bit of time catching up, and once I’d told him about the project, he was very happy to take part. We arranged to be in touch again in May.

So a good first meeting with them both, it was great to have Dave there. He was particularly excited about meeting J who has had no previous contact with the History Club and has lots of interesting information about the Mill and it’s working practices.

I still think that the technology will be a sticking point. I need to think of a better way to introduce people to working with the ipad. Both J and F had a little go, but were a bit tentative. I hope it will be easier when they have thought of something specific to talk about. I wonder if we should start by doing drawings on paper? Maybe I could set them a little drawing project to get them started. I need to find a way to make it more accessible.

Next Saturday I’ll be going over again for the Saltaire Heritage weekend, and will get a chance to meet the Saltaire Archivist from Shipley college who may be able to help with access to digital whiteboards, which would make it easier to work with a group. Dave is going to send me a disc of History Club photos, but I’ll also be able to see what they have at the archive. I’d like to look at some plans of the Mill if they have them. I feel more confident now I’ve met some people, and I’m excited about finding more participants and hearing more stories.