Waterloo 2022: the Battlefield Tour

Waterloo 2022: the Battlefield Tour

It’s taken me a few weeks to put together a description of the full day’s tour of the Waterloo Battlefield, partly because events rather took over once I got back to the UK but mostly because I needed a bit of distance before trying to describe the day.

Once again I’m not going to attempt to put together a battlefield guide of my own, based on Gareth’s incredible tour. He’s written so much about the battle himself that it would be utterly superfluous. My recommendation is that people who want to know more go away and find his books. I’ve recently read his Waterloo: myth and reality which is a brilliant overview of the campaign, pointing out some of the enduring myths and stories over the years and sifting through the evidence to suggest what the truth might be. It’s very readable and is a great place to start.

Number One London Tours did an excellent job of managing the various walking abilities of its tour members and the bus moved around the battlefield with us to enable those needing a rest to hop on and off. Some of us walked the whole way. One of the first things I really noticed, being on the ground at Waterloo is that the battlefield is far more undulating than it looks from photographs or from the top of the Lion’s Mound. Crossing from the left to the right of Wellington’s lines before walking down to do the same with the French lines, it’s very clear that commanders, officers and men really couldn’t see what was happening in different parts of the battlefield.

Features of the landscape like the covered way which is still partly visible, waist and head-high crops and surprisingly steep ridges help the story of the battle unfold far more easily than looking at maps. Gareth had maps a plenty though, to demonstrate each stage of the fighting as we reached it, starting from Papelotte and moving around the various parts of the field. He had also brought a copy of his fantastic Waterloo Archive Map Book which includes a large collection of contemporary sketches and maps but also artists impressions of the battlefield and surrounding countryside. I probably don’t need to tell you that I’ve already ordered a copy.

Interspersed with clear, easy to understand descriptions of troop movements and the various attacks at different stages of the battle, were the individual stories from both Gareth and Kristine about the men who fought, suffered and died at Waterloo. I’ve seen many of these accounts before but hearing them read out on the ground where the action took place gave them a whole new meaning.

Despite a lot of development on and around the battlefield, Waterloo reminds me of Salamanca in that it’s still very easy to get a sense of the countryside as it must have been on that wet morning in June 1815 when Wellington deployed his mismatched army along the ridge at Mont St Jean and hoped that the Prussians would arrive. We walked over the same fields as the British, the Dutch and Belgian, the French and Prussians.  It was a beautiful sunny day, not at all the right atmosphere for ghosts, but it was surprisingly easy to imagine the crash of guns, the squeal of terrified horses and the tramping of thousands of feet.

It was also horribly easy to imagine the aftermath, with dead and wounded strewn across the field. Injured men staggered towards anywhere they might find help and too many of them fell by the wayside. The memorials to the different armies and regiments as well as to a few individuals which are scattered around the battlefield highlight the poignant truth that most men who died at Waterloo had no marked grave, no memorial and quite possibly may not even have been buried at all.

 

Lieutenant-General Charles Alten

I’ve not reached the Battle of Waterloo with my fictional regiment yet, but throughout this tour names have been mentioned of men I know about, have read about and have written about as real people. Picton’s death, Charles Alten’s serious injuries and poor Juana Smith’s mistaken belief that her beloved Harry lay dead on that grisly field somehow have a new meaning now. Entwined with them will be the fate of my fictional characters, who over the past five years have become utterly real to me. I still don’t know myself what happens to them all on the bloody field of Waterloo but whether they live or die, I don’t suppose any of them will be the same afterwards.

The Prussian Memorial

We ended our tour of the battlefield with a walk up to the Prussian memorial at Plancenoit and with a drink at Le Gros Velo, sitting in the sunshine opposite the church. It isn’t the same church that was there in 1815. That one was destroyed during the battle but it has been rebuilt on the same site and there are several memorial plaques on the walls. I can remember going to Badajoz back in 2017 and discovering that sometimes, in a place where great tragedy and suffering occurred, it’s what isn’t left behind that affects me more powerfully than what is.

 

For our last evening we had a farewell dinner at Les Deux Sil, the Italian restaurant on the edge of the battlefield. It was a lovely meal and a lovely evening with a real sense of camaraderie. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these people and hope to meet some of them on future trips.

When we emerged, it was dark. Kristine had bought some flowers and a few of us walked up towards the Lion’s Mound which is lit up at night. It looked spectacular and despite all the jokes about it spoiling the battlefield, it felt like a fitting memorial that night, not to the Prince of Orange or Wellington or to any of the other individual commanders but to the thousands of anonymous men and animals who died on that field two hundred and seven years ago.

We placed the flowers on the edge of the field, not on any particular monument but just on a spot where any man might have fallen and stood quietly, listening on a phone to John Tams singing Spanish Ladies, a haunting folk song. A version of that song existed in 1815 and might have been sung by the campfires by men who did not survive that day. It seemed an appropriate memorial to the ordinary soldiers and the perfect way to end Waterloo 2022: the Battlefield Tour.

 

The house used by the Duke of Wellington in Brussels in the run up to the Battle of Waterloo

I’d like to thank Gareth Glover and Kristine Hughes Patrone from Number One London Tours as well as all my fellow tourists for making this a fascinating but also very moving experience. I’ve come home with pages of notes and loads of ideas about how the 110th infantry might fit in to the battle on the day. It would be so tempting to jump ahead, but I’m not going to. My lads had to go all the way through that war, so I’m going with them every step of the way.

Waterloo 2022: Wellington Napoleon and Mont Saint Jean

The Wellington Museum

Waterloo 2022: Wellington Napoleon and Mont St Jean

 

Today’s tour started at the Wellington Museum which is housed in Wellington’s Headquarters in Waterloo itself. I’m going to digress from being a tour guide here now and mention the fact that having been round the various museums here, I am quite grateful that there is in fact a Wellington Museum at all.

I’ve seen various commentaries online about the huge local concentration here on Napoleon rather than the Allied commanders. People who complain about this are generally mocked for being Wellington groupies and undoubtedly in some cases that’s true, but it is striking, particularly in the various gift shops. I think it might have improved very slightly since I came four years ago in that it is now possible to buy one Wellington item in the main gift shop but that is completely overwhelmed by the vast amount of Napoleon memorabilia. Personally I don’t really need any more souvenirs but the difference is striking.

I have no idea whether there’s something political about this, whether it’s considered Napoleon was the most important person at Waterloo given that he was an Emperor or whether they just don’t think Wellington or Blucher memorabilia will sell.  I do think it should probably be redressed, but if it’s a marketing decision then I guess that’s a good enough reason. All the same, Napoleon as a dog was a bit much for me.

 

Not the best likeness, but it gets the point across…

The Wellington museum is a poignant reminder of the human cost of battle. Wellington’s staff had done surprisingly well through the long years of the Peninsular War but his luck ran out at Waterloo. This was where Kristine’s knowledge of the people came into its own and the excerpts from Wellington’s letters were very emotional. During the years I’ve been writing the Peninsular War Saga, I’ve got to know some of these young men as if they were my own fictional characters and it was surprisingly painful to think of Alexander Gordon’s death and Fitzroy Somerset’s agonising operation to amputate his arm. There’s a lot of information about Wellington through the various sites, but in this house I found it much easier to imagine Wellington the man, struggling to write the early part of his Waterloo dispatch while receiving news of the death and wounding of his friends.

Across the busy road from the Wellington Museum is the elaborate church which was there at the time of the battle and used, like many churches, as a hospital to receive wounded men. Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I have a thing about old churches and this one was particularly peaceful, with a number of memorials to the men who fought and died during the Waterloo campaign. Memorials at this time tended to be paid for either by the family of the dead man or by subscription through the various battalions and regiments, so not surprisingly more of them relate to the wealthier regiments. Very few of the memorials even mention the NCOs and enlisted men apart from this one in the church, which may well be the first of its kind.

 

After lunch we moved on to Napoleon’s Headquarters in the farmhouse of Le Caillou, where Napoleon and his staff spent the night of June 17, 1815. The museum collection is spread over five rooms  and tells the story of the Emperor’s actions in the hours before Waterloo. There are a number of artefacts relating to Napoleon, though Gareth queried whether some of the furniture was authentic given that the Prussians reputedly set fire to everything on their way through after Napoleon’s departure. Still, it gives a good sense of how the farm might have looked at the time.

In the garden outside the farmhouse are one or two memorials. There is also an ossuary, which is a small building intended to serve as the final resting place of human bones. Ossuaries are often used where burial space is scarce but in this case it has become a depository for bones found on the battlefield over the years. I’ve seen photos of this but found the real thing unexpectedly moving.

 

Mont Saint Jean today

The final stop of the day was the medical museum, located at Mont Saint Jean, which was situated at the back of Wellington’s lines and became the main field hospital. We hit a slight problem here as it turned out the museum and attached bar had just moved over to winter opening hours and were closed. Fortunately Gareth’s local knowledge saved the day and after a short wait we were allowed to go in to the museum for a brief tour.

 

 

Mont Saint Jean is not for the faint hearted. The suffering of the wounded of both armies must have been indescribable, and Gareth read a distressing description of bloody bodies and severed limbs covering the ground outside the farm. There are vivid descriptions of the various wounds and operations performed and information about individual surgeons and their experience of the campaign. 

There are also exhibits of medicine and surgical kits from the era and the uniforms worn by the medical staff. One or two models give an idea of the state of Mont Saint Jean as the wounded continued to pour in. I’ve always thought that the astonishing thing about surgery and medicine in the army at this time is how many of the operations actually succeeded and how many men survived their wounds. Survival would not have been improved by the invariable practice of bleeding a wounded man. It has sometimes occurred to me that once the initial operation was over, a shortage of surgeons might well have meant that a man would be bled less often which could improve his chances of survival…

After one of the shorter days with Waterloo 2022: Wellington Napoleon and Mont Saint Jean we went back to the hotel early for dinner and drinks, as we needed to get ready for the next day and our battlefield tour. For me this was going to be the highlight of the week and the main reason I came on this tour. This week has gone so quickly and I’ve learned so much, it’s been a joy. I should also mention that the group were fantastic and really good company.

Waterloo 2022 – Quatre Bras and Ligny

Waterloo 2022 – Quatre Bras and Ligny was one of the days I was most looking forward to. I’ve previously done a whistle stop tour of some of the Waterloo museums, but I’ve never been to either of these sites. I’ve also read nothing about them other than a brief mention at the beginning of many books on Waterloo. I was well aware of the significance of both of these actions in the rest of the campaign but other than that, I knew very little.

At some later stage, when I get to it, I’ll do a proper post on the whole campaign. These posts aren’t designed to tell you what happened on those days in 1815 but to describe my own experience of touring the battle sites with Number One London Tours led by Gareth Glover and Kristine Hughes Patrone.

The windmill at Fleurus

Our tour today began in Fleurus, a town to the south-west of Ligny.  Napoleon arrived at Fleurus with his staff and escort on the morning of the battle and reached the Fleurus windmill. He apparently ordered his engineers to build an observation platform by knocking out part of the roof and climbed up to survey the situation for himself. Throughout the tour, Gareth returned regularly to the issue of how much of the battlefields could actually be seen by the various army commanders. Napoleon remained well-back from the fighting for most of the day, while Wellington was positioned further forward, and in his usual manner, moved around the battlefield at different times.

Chateau de la Paix

We next moved on to the Chateau de la Paix, which is now used as local government offices. After his victory over the Prussians at Ligny on 16th June, Napoleon retired that evening to the Chateau in Fleurus, while his troops camped in the surrounding area. During the night Napoleon shut himself off from the outside world for as long as he could. He was inactive for almost eleven hours while the Prussians escaped. They were bloodied and much depleted but still effective enough to march to support Wellington at Waterloo.

The Napoleon room in the Chateau de la Paix

The room occupied by Napoleon in the Chateau has been reconstructed with period furniture. Our local guide Laurent was an excellent storyteller with a great sense of humour and he talked about the battle, the aftermath and what might have gone wrong for Napoleon. He and Gareth agreed with the possibility that treatment for a severe case of haemorrhoids might well have affected Napoleon’s behaviour that night and could possibly have affected some of his decisions. For anybody wanting to visit the Chateau, you have to book in advance and details are on their website. If all the guides are this good, I strongly recommend it.

Our next visit was to the small but very good museum in Ligny. It covers both Ligny and Quatre Bras and gave a very good sense of what happened on 16th June in these small villages and towns as the French inflicted a bloody defeat on Blucher’s Prussians and fought to a stalemate against Wellington’s Allied army. I was shocked at the extent of the casualties at both battles. Somehow I’d always had the vague impression that these were just skirmishes ahead of the main battle, but they clearly weren’t. All three armies were weakened by what happened on this day and it must have had an effect on what happened at Waterloo.

French ambulance wagon, much coveted by Anne van Daan…

From my own perspective, I was delighted to find a French flying ambulance wagon in the courtyard outside the museum. Anybody who has read the Peninsular War Saga will know that Anne van Daan has been persecuting Wellington about ambulance provision for three books now and if he wasn’t so fond of her he’d probably have strangled her. I’ve read about these and seen pictures but it was great to meet the real thing.

Memorial to the Duke of Brunswick, killed at Quatre Bras

We made our way up to Quatre Bras. There’s very little to see there, as the original farmhouse has been pulled down and there’s a lot of building in the area. Gareth did a good job, pointing out those sites and memorials around both battlefields which can still be seen. Even with limited access he managed to give a clear picture of what happened in both battles and had a wealth of personal accounts to read of what happened to individuals on the day.

 

 

 

Auberge du Roy d’Espagne, Genappe

We drove through Genappe, looking at the routes taken by the various armies and stopped for a photo opportunity at the Auberge du Roy d’Espagne. This former inn was used at different times by the Duke of Wellington, Prince Jérôme Bonaparte and Marshal Blücher, who stayed at the inn after Waterloo and reputedly left it in Napoleon’s sedan. There is a picture of the Prussian generals celebrating their victory at Waterloo, but the inn also housed the wounded French General Guillaume Philibert Duhesme who died there on June 20, two days after the battle, probably while the Prussians were still celebrating in the next room.

Blucher’s window at the Auberge du Roy d’Espagne from the outside…
And a painting of the same window from the inside. Though it doesn’t look the same, I suspect some artist’s license here…

Another long day on the tour, with moving accounts from both Gareth and Kristine about the battles and their aftermath. Tomorrow is museum day, with visits to the Wellington and Napoleon museums, the church in Waterloo and the Mont St Jean medical museum.

Waterloo 2022 – the London tour

Horse Guards. “No wonder nothing ever works there” (Colonel Paul van Daan, in a Redoubtable Citadel, 1812)

Waterloo 2022 – the London tour was the first official tour day. I had a great dinner last night at the Clarence pub, meeting the rest of the tour group then this morning we set off on the London section of the tour.

We began outside Lanesborough House. The former home of the Viscounts Lanesborough, it is a beautiful neoclassical building on Hyde Park Corner opposite Apsley House. From 1733 it housed St George’s Hospital until it became a five star hotel in 1991. It was the beginning of our walking tour around the early nineteenth century heart of London.

 

Original gate to Tattersalls, where every young officer about town hoped to find a good campaign horse

Our guides were historians Gareth Glover who has published more than a hundred books on the Peninsular War and Waterloo campaign and Kristine Hughes Patrone who runs Number One London tours and is the author of Waterloo Witnesses and who can talk forever on the Duke of Wellington, or ‘Artie’ as he’s also known and the social world in which he moved. We visited Hamilton Place, Wellington’s temporary London home in 1814-15 from where he and some of his staff departed for Brussels in 1815. We saw the site of Tattersalls, the famous auctioneer of quality horses during the period and learned something about the best choice of horses for officers setting off on campaign.

 

The Grenadier Pub, supposedly haunted by a soldier murdered for cheating at cards.

We moved on to the Grenadier Pub, and heard Kristine’s personal experience of the local ghost story and we walked between mews and carriage houses, now converted into fabulously expensive residential properties and were able to get a sense of how busy the area would have been in 1815 with the army barracks, Horse Guards and the comings and goings of officers and men alongside fashionable London.

 

 

 

Apsley House, home of Wellington after the Waterloo campaign

No Wellington visit would be complete without a trip to Apsley House, also known as Number One London. There is an excellent Wellington Museum inside the house which includes a spectacular art collection, much of which was captured from the French after the Battle of Vitoria and which the Spanish then gave to Wellington after the war.  The house was originally bought by Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, but in 1817 financial difficulties caused him to sell it to his famous brother, by then the Duke of Wellington, who needed a London base from which to pursue his new career in politics.

Elegance in Regency clubland

We went on to St James’s Square where the Waterloo Dispatch and captured French eagles were delivered to the Prince Regent, who was attending a soiree hosted by Mrs Edmund Boehm on 21 June 1815. The dispatch was brought by Major Henry Percy, one of Wellington’s ADCs. Percy first delivered Wellington’s dispatch to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for War in Grosvenor Square before going to lay the eagles at the feet of the Prince Regent.

 

 

 

Our final stop for the day was the Horse Guards museum and were in time to see an inspection parade. After that it was back to the hotel in preparation for an early start on the Eurostar to Brussels the following morning.

Waterloo 2022: prelude

Waterloo 2022: prelude only really came about because I live on the Isle of Man. My much anticipated Waterloo tour officially starts in London with dinner on 1st September, but given the unpredictable nature of travel these days, I was absolutely determined not to risk a major delay. Accordingly I found myself in London with a whole day to spare yesterday.

Some people – those with sense – would have found something relaxing to do ahead of what is likely to be an energetic tour. I decided the best way to spend the day was on a marathon tour around the navy museums in Greenwich, before going for dinner with some of my fellow travellers. I was absolutely shattered but had a great deal of fun.

The National Maritime Museum part of Royal Museums Greenwich, a network of museums in the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Greenwich has always had connections with the sea and navigation. There was a Roman landing place here, the Navy has a long history with the Greenwich waterfront and in 1675, Charles II founded the Royal Observatory for “finding the longitude of places” Greenwich has been the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian since 1884, and has been a centre for astronomical study. Navigators right across the world have set their clocks according to its time of day.  It’s the perfect place for a maritime museum.

The Museum has a fantastic collection on the history of Britain at sea  including both British and Dutch maritime art, cartography, manuscripts  ship models and plans, scientific and navigational instruments. There are a series of galleries looking at the history of Britain at sea, organised either geographically or by historic period.

There is, as usual, an abundance of information and artefacts about Lord Nelson, England’s most feted naval hero including the clothing he was wearing when he was shot down on the deck of the Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar. While I’m grateful that the national obsession with Nelson means that EVERY navy museum has something relating to my period of interest, I can’t help imagining the howls of indignation of a few other navy officers of the era who really did some quite impressive stuff themselves, but don’t get a mention. Nevertheless, the National Maritime Museum is fascinating, with loads to see and do for both adults and children and I highly recommend it.

Close by is the old Royal Naval College, the centrepiece of what has come to be known as Maritime Greenwich. The buildings were originally built as the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, first chartered by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1694. The buildings were designed by Christopher Wren and built between 1696 and 1712. The hospital closed in 1869 and between 1873 and 1998 it was the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Model of Greenwich Palace

There had been a palace on this site from the days of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. It was rebuilt by Henry VII and became known as Greenwich Palace, a favourite residence of several Tudor monarchs. Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I were all born there. It remained a royal palace until it fell into disrepair during the Civil Wars of the seventeenth century and was finally demolished in 1694.

Greenwich Seaman’s Hospital was built on the orders of Mary II who was affected by the sight of wounded sailors coming home from the Battle of La Hogue. It is incredibly beautiful architecturally and both the Chapel and the Painted Hall are well worth a visit. I particularly liked the Chapel, which has naval motifs incorporated into the design.

 

 

 

Admiral Sir Richard Keats

Even so, I will admit that for me the most exciting part of that visit was to spot a bust of Admiral Sir Richard Keats, looking benignly at me from a corner. Keats is a recurring character in my Manxman series and it was like running into an old friend, though I probably confused the rest of the tour group with my enthusiasm. Nobody had heard of him and I promise I only gave a gratuitous chunk of information in revenge for somebody asking me if he would have known Nelson…

 

Henry VIII’s tiltyard at Greenwich

There’s a modern visitor centre which is really interesting on the subject of the early history of the Greenwich site, including models of the the old palace and the tilt yard established there by Henry VIII.

 

 

Nelson also features a fair bit, surprisingly enough. England’s Hero lay in state for several days in the Painted Hall and there is a small dedicated Nelson Room, but my favourite artefact is a lion which was apparently a model piece for the Nelson frieze. The lion is holding a stone which purports to claim that Nelson fought in 122 battles. I had this piece of information from the guide and I’ve not managed to check it at all, but my extensive reading on the subject of the Napoleonic navy so far has suggested that most of the time was spent either on tedious blockade duty or seething at home on half-pay. Nobody seemed able to answer my question about how Nelson managed to see quite so much action during his time in the navy but if I get to the bottom of it, I’ll let you know. Alternatively, if anybody else knows where I can find a list of these battles, I’d love to hear it. Nice lion, though.

My final visit of the day was to the Cutty Sark, a nineteenth century tea clipper located in dry dock on the river bank. The Cutty Sark has a very sentimental place in my heart as it was a favourite place to visit as a child. We used to go to Greenwich a lot, getting the bus from Mile End and then walking through the Victorian foot tunnel under the river. I loved it there, the park and the eclectic market, the little shops, the Queen’s House and the Observatory, the graceful buildings of the Naval College. That much history in one place always set off my very eccentric imagination about the men and women who had lived in these buildings and walked these streets in the past. But the absolute joy for me was the once or twice a year when we were allowed to actually go aboard the Cutty Sark.

In those days, the Cutty Sark wasn’t the only ship on the riverside. She was joined by the Gypsy Moth IV, the yacht in which Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe in 1966. The yacht is now on display in the museum at Buckler’s Hard but I can remember visiting her at Greenwich. It was an exciting story and my sister, her interest firmly rooted in the present, loved it but it failed to catch my enthusiasm in the way that the clipper races of the Cutty Sark did.

I wasn’t sure that I’d still feel the same about the Cutty Sark. Certainly the displays aboard ship are very different to my childhood memories, probably because of the enormous amount of conservation work done over the years, especially after the fire of 2007. It’s astonishing that despite everything, 90% of the ship in Greenwich today is original. The ship you see today is mostly the same as when she first carried tea from Shanghai to London and was reopened by Her Majesty The Queen in 2012.

The Victorian foot tunnel at Greenwich

I was amused at how small the Cutty Sark felt to me, after recent visits to the Victory, the Trincomalee and the Warrior. Below decks had nothing like the atmosphere of the Napoleonic ships but once I was on deck again, I suddenly had that same feeling I remember in childhood, gazing awestruck up into her rigging, trying to imagine what it would have been like. The displays were fascinating and I’ve finally found out where the ship’s name came from. But for me, just standing there on the riverside, stepping onto the deck and then walking down into the old foot tunnel brought back memories so vivid I got quite emotional.

 

After a day on my feet, it was a relief to meet up with some of my fellow travellers at the Royal Horse Guards Hotel, and dinner was great fun. Today has been very restful, with a trip on the river and lunch at the Royal Opera House with Janet, one of my readers whom I’ve chatted to over the past couple of years and who I’ve been dying to meet. I think I’ve recuperated enough to hit the streets of London with Number One London Tours tomorrow to visit Waterloo related sights before heading off to Belgium the following day.

I’ll try to keep up these posts over the trip and share as many photos as I can, though it’s a packed programme so some of it will probably have to wait until I get home again. I’m hoping to learn a lot this week which will help me with the Waterloo book when I finally get to it. It’s getting alarmingly close…

A Writer’s Retreat

A Writer’s Retreat

Trying to write in the middle of a busy household with a couple of Labradors and an over-developed sense of responsibility, I’ve often dreamed of going on a Writer’s Retreat. I’m sure many of my fellow writers feel the same way. After yet another week where writing plans have sunk without trace in a round of supermarket shopping, dealing with elderly relatives, proofreading essays and cleaning the dogs’ ears, I love the idea of a few days of peace and quiet in lovely surroundings with nothing to do but write. I’ve never done it though.

I’ve come close a few times. I used to volunteer to cat-sit for my sister, who lives in a very beautiful place, and I certainly took the opportunity to catch up on work while I was there. Somehow though, it was still never the haven I dreamed about. I’ve taken off on research trips on my own many times, but those tend to be a frantic round of getting to the places I wanted, taking photographs and making notes. It would almost have felt too self-indulgent to spend the day sitting doing nothing but writing.

Organised writers’ retreats look very appealing, but many of them seem very expensive. Besides which, they generally include other writers. I know myself too well, and the opportunity to sit and talk writing, history and general nonsense with a group of like-minded people would be irresistible. They’d be a lot of fun, but I’d get nothing done.

The second half of 2021 was hard for me. It is well recorded elsewhere on this blog that I didn’t do well with lockdown and restrictions, and although I would have loved to book a research trip somewhere in Europe, I didn’t trust that these wouldn’t be reinstated at a moment’s notice. Richard managed a couple of cycling trips to the UK, and we had some friends to stay the moment restrictions lifted enough, but I was miserable. The only trips I made to the UK were necessary family visits and none of them were particularly restful. We had been having a lot of problems with my elderly in-laws who had recently moved to the island and I felt as though my life had become one long round of hospital visits and troubleshooting phone calls.

2021 was also the first year since I began publishing that I didn’t manage to get a book out. Back in October, it seemed as though I wasn’t even going to get close to it. I knew what I needed to do, and the book was going well, but I couldn’t get enough time to work on it. I was frazzled and seriously burned out and I needed a break, but I had no idea where I wanted to go or what was practical in the post-Covid world.

Burnout is one thing, but the annual Halloween short story was due, and I had an idea for a story set during Captain Hugh Kelly’s younger days, when he was newly promoted to captain of a frigate. My research so far has all been based around the 74-gun Iris, but I wanted information about one of the smaller, faster ships which made stars of the navy captains. A quick spell of internet research introduced me to HMS Trincomalee, the oldest warship still afloat in Europe.

The Trincomalee looked gorgeous and was located in the Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool, something I didn’t even know existed. I did a bit of research and decided that I absolutely wanted to go there, and sooner rather than later. I was actually very excited. It’s been two years since there was a very real prospect of me travelling anywhere to do something just for myself, and the sheer joy I felt, made me realise how badly I needed a break. I checked dates with Richard then went searching for accommodation.

I was determined not to stay with family or friends. This time I wanted to be completely on my own agenda. I didn’t want to stay in Hartlepool, but somewhere pretty, within easy driving distance. North Yorkshire looked good, and I love that area. No self-catering. I do enough cooking at home. I typed in my requirements, to be listed by cost for a week, lowest first.

The first thing that popped up was a room at the Duke of Wellington Inn, in Danby. I swear to God, people, I’d booked it within ten minutes. Sometimes it’s obviously a sign.

The Duke of Wellington Inn is an ivy-clad traditional eighteenth century inn located in the tiny village of Danby in the North York Moors, about fifteen miles inland from Whitby. Until I found the place, I hadn’t decided that my trip was going to be my very own personalised writer’s retreat, but a bit of research made me realise it was perfect. Danby really is small, although very pretty. The Moors National Park Centre is just at the edge of the village, and there’s a tiny bakery with a café just behind the Duke of Wellington. Other than that, there’s not even a shop in the village. For somebody wanting uninterrupted writing time, it couldn’t have been better.

I checked with the owner whether there was a suitable table in my room for working. The single rooms were fairly small, but he assured me there was a guests’ sitting room with a desk in it and I’d be very welcome to work there as it was seldom used. When I arrived and saw it, I couldn’t quite believe my luck. For a week, I effectively had my own personal study. It was completely lovely.

The Duke of Wellington Inn was built in 1732 and was originally known as the Red Briar. It was used as a recruiting post during the Napoleonic Wars and was apparently known as either the Wellington Arms or the Lord Wellington during this period. I haven’t yet been able to find out when the name was changed to the Duke of Wellington – my first thought was that it must have been after 1815 to commemorate the victory at Waterloo, but I discovered that when Canon Atkinson arrived in 1847 to take up his post as Vicar of Danby, the inn was still called the Wellington Arms so the transition must have come later. At that point, the inn was kept by two sisters known as Martha and Mary.

A cast iron plaque of the Duke was unearthed during restoration work and can be seen on the wall as you go up the stairs. The inn is not large and is very obviously old – floors are uneven and the furniture is very traditional. Impressively, though, all the essential things for a comfortable stay work really well – the bed was comfortable, the bathroom modern and heating and hot water were spot on. I’d booked bed and breakfast, but after a look at the dinner menu, decided I’d eat there in the evening as well. It was standard pub food, but well-cooked and sensibly priced, and I never object to sitting by an open fire in a traditional country pub to eat. In addition, the staff were absolutely amazing. Nothing was too much trouble and they treated my invasion of the guest sitting room as though it was the most normal thing in the world. Thank you so much guys.

I’m pleased to say I stood by my resolution to treat this week as a writer’s retreat. Apart from my one excursion to Hartlepool, I remained in and around the village. The weather was beautiful, crisp and cold but with only one rainy day. I ordered breakfast early then went for a walk every morning before sitting down to work. Lunch was soup and sandwiches from the Stonehouse Bakery, with some excellent cake for afternoon tea, and then I’d go for another walk before dinner. It was often almost dark by the time I got back, and the sunsets were gorgeous.

During the day I took over the desk and worked solidly on book seven, An Indomitable Brigade. I found, to my joy, that I’d been right about the book. There was nothing wrong with either plotting or the research I’d done. I just needed time, and peace and quiet to get on with it. I kept in touch with my family during the evening, but firmly refused to take calls during the day. I was helped by the fact that the wi-fi was variable. It worked very well in my room, and down in the bar areas but in the study it was patchy, which removed the temptation to chat on Twitter or Facebook. After the first day, I was completely absorbed in the world of the 110th and the battle of Vitoria.

I enjoyed my day out at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool, and the Trincomalee was everything I hoped for and more. The museum is set up around a historic quayside restored to look like an eighteenth century seaport and its beautiful waterside setting. The various buildings are set up to show tradesmen like tailors, printers and instrument makers with stories about the Royal Navy and the men and women associated with it. It’s a great place for kids, with an adventure play ship and loads of activities, and because I was there during half term, there were demonstrations of gunnery and swordsmanship and various talks scheduled through the day. I went to everything, even though most of this wasn’t new to me. It was a great atmosphere, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interactive Fighting Sail exhibition, though the kids commentary around me probably entertained me as much as the displays.

The Trincomalee was perfect, one of two surviving British frigates of her era. The other, HMS Unicorn is a museum ship in Dundee and I’m going to get there when I can. The Trincomalee was commissioned in 1812 to be built in India using teak, due to the shortage of oak in Britain after the intensive shipbuilding of the Napoleonic wars. Work did not begin until 1816 so by the time the ship was finished the following year, the wars were over and Trincomalee was put to other uses.

On the advice of one of the guides, I waited until the kids were completely absorbed in learning how to form a boarding party on the quayside using foam swords and cutlasses before boarding the ship. It was completely empty and I was able to take photographs, absorb the atmosphere and write stories in my head to my hearts content. The Trincomalee quickly morphed into the fictional Herne in my imagination, Hugh Kelly’s first post-command, and the story was finished. I’ll definitely come back to it though, I’d like to write a lot more of Hugh’s earlier adventures in the navy.

Rush hour in Danby

Back at my borrowed desk, I had a blissful few days of writing, walking on the moors and falling in love both with Yorkshire and with my fictional world all over again. By the time I set off for the ferry at the end of the week, the book was back on track, and I was fairly sure I’d have it written, even if not edited and published, before the end of the year. I had also forgiven myself for my inability to work as well as usual during the past two years. There are probably writers out there who made the most of the restrictions of lockdown and emerged ahead of the game. I suffered, and emotionally it was hard to put myself into the heads of my characters when my own head was so full of confusion. I think on those long, winter walks over the moors I’ve worked out how to be kinder to myself and how to keep a distance when the world feels an alien and unfamiliar place.

I’ve concluded that a writer’s retreat means different things to different people. For some, it’s about learning, and they’re looking for lectures and workshops and the ability to try something new. For others, it’s about connecting with other writers to share ideas and stories and to feel part of a community for a while, in this very solitary job that we do. For me, it’s definitely a retreat, a place of quiet and solitude and some beauty, where I can throw myself back into what I do best without any nagging sense of all the other things on my to do list.

Of course, it also helps to have an eighteenth century Napoleonic recruiting inn and an early nineteenth century frigate thrown in for good measure.

 

Lockdown with Oscar: Day Five

Lockdown with Oscar: Day Five

dav

After a very successful walk yesterday, it’s both raining and blowing a gale outside. Oscar has made a few forays into the garden to do the needful, and a quick trip up the road, but apart from that, he has decided against the outside world today.

When he doesn’t want to go for a walk, Oscar actually drags his paws. You wouldn’t think a Labrador could do that, but in fact this is the second one I’ve had. Joey, our old yella fella, would stride out in any weather regardless but Toby, our first black Labrador would get to the end of the driveway and freeze in position if he didn’t like the look of the weather. Nothing shifted him. I tried bribery, training, yelling and tugging on the lead. Toby would do his business against the gate post then turn back towards the house in a purposeful manner.

I don’t bother to argue with Oscar. He’s so active that the odd day without a long walk doesn’t hurt him. I’m not so keen myself today either. I had a poor night last night and after a reasonably productive day work wise I hit a serious afternoon slump at about ten to four. I’ve officially given up now and I’ve lit the fire and am dozing on the sofa with Oscar as I’m not cooking tonight.

One of the good points of my son working from home and being unable to go out with his friends is that he’s almost always willing to cook. He’s an excellent cook who can produce restaurant quality food and it’s quite a nice break for me. Steak is happening in the kitchen and it smells good.

I’ve almost finished chapter two today. I don’t yet have a sense of how long this book is likely to be. My last couple were fairly long, but the Tarragona campaign itself was very short. Still, there are several plotlines running through it. More to the point, I will actually get to spend a bit more time at sea during this book. Both my previous naval books have been joint campaigns featuring both the army and the navy, but this one is purely from the naval point of view, so I’m doing a lot of background reading. Oscar is doing less background reading and more snoring, but he seems happy.

“I’d be a lot happier if you’d move that laptop, Mum. That clicking is disturbing me.”

“You mean my typing?”

“Yes. So noisy.”

“I do apologise, your Lordship. I was trying to do some work.”

Lockdown is odd, because my own routine doesn’t really change that much, but because my family is all at home all the time, my schedule is very disrupted. I quite like them all being around though, it’s very social. Oscar adores it and spends the day going from one workplace to another so that none of us feels left out.

The Man I Married is a bit obsessed with the news at the moment. Mostly, I try to avoid it, but when we meet up for lunch, I get my daily rundown of the latest from the USA. It’s like watching a really weird version of the West Wing but without a lot of the witty remarks. Still, it does take your mind off the UK.

My daughter has finished her essay. The pain is over. The trauma is gone.

“Mum. I’m bored.”

“When does your new reading list come out?”

“This week, I think.”

“Why don’t you e-mail them?”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?”

“Not permanently, love. Just until you’ve got something else to do…”

In the middle of all this, I find myself thinking about people with kids who are both working and trying to home school during this chaos. I remember how I was when the kids were young, and I was utterly devoted to them both and couldn’t wait to get them out the door to school or nursery. They needed the stimulation of mixing with other kids and adults and I needed some time away from them. It’s much the same now.

“Mum. I’m so ready to go back to York.”

“I know, love.”

“Bet you’re ready for that too…”

“Mmmm.”

Evenings are nice, though. Generally, we have a tendency to drift off to do our own thing, but without the social aspect of work or seeing friends, our youngsters are more inclined to hang around the kitchen or living room watching TV, playing games or just listening to music. I’ve heard a few parents with teenage or adult kids saying the same. Ours are quite lovely generally, but very busy, so this is a bit of an oasis.

I’m also very happy that my son’s girlfriend has chosen to isolate with us again, and grateful that her poor mother doesn’t mind. She’s a joy to have and I don’t know how either of them would have coped apart. It does make me think about all the couples who weren’t at the point of living together who must have struggled with very tough choices through this.

We’re lucky. We’re lucky to be able to be together, even though we can’t all be where we really want to be. We’re lucky that so far we’ve had no job losses or financial disasters because of this mess. I’m so conscious of those who have, that I almost feel guilty. It’s a fragile security, but sometimes that has to be enough.

Lockdown minus point 6: When it’s raining there’s nowhere indoors to go.

Lockdown plus point 6: Apart from home, which is a pretty nice place to be.

Lockdown with Oscar: Day Four

Lockdown with Oscar: Day Four

It’s Sunday, and after a wild night of compulsory Beer Pong with some of the younger members of the household, neither Oscar and I are up for an early start.

The Essay from Hell is almost done. We’re at that stage where Girl Child is studying it, and saying in dispassionate tones:

“This is actually not bad.”

Given that at various stages, this was the worst essay ever written and she was going to fail her entire degree because of it, that probably means she’ll get a first. All I have to do now is proofread, admire and leave her to it. Phew.

It’s quite a nice afternoon, so Oscar and I take the car and head up to Groudle Glen. I was hoping it would be quiet, but it turns out that on a dry afternoon in lockdown, the glen is the place to be. Some of the paths are very narrow, so there’s a lot of stopping and stepping to one side to let people pass. It’s all very amiable though. We meet a few dogs including an alarmingly cute pair of dachshunds.

“Mum, this is fun. Why are some people wearing their muzzles?”

“People are worried about catching Covid, Oscar.”

“You’re not wearing one.”

“You don’t have to, out here, only in shops or indoor places. We’re not getting close to people, I’m not worried about catching it here.”

“Why is that dog wearing a muzzle?”

“That’s got nothing to do with Covid, Oscar. Probably she bites.”

“Ugh. Can I paddle in the river?”

“A bit further down. Once we get past the water wheel.”

It’s the first time I’ve been down the glen since the old Victorian water wheel was back in place. It was removed for restoration, and it’s lovely to see it back, looking splendid. Oscar was very interested, but the water is very fast here, with a series of rapids, so we moved on to shallower parts before I let him off the lead to play in the water. He loves it, and will just run up and down in the river for the sheer joy of it.

“Mum, can we go to the beach?”

“If it’s not too busy, Oscar. There are a lot of children about today.”

“I won’t chase the children, I promise. I just want to SWIM!!!

The beach was fairly deserted apart from one family group and a woman with a teenaged daughter and their dog.

“Mum! A DOOOOOG! Can I go and play?”

“I think so, Oscar. Off you go.”

Meet Moz. I didn’t get too many details about him, as we had to socially distance, but he was lovely. His owners and I took turns to throw sticks in the water and Oscar and Moz chased them. It was a lot of fun. At one point they were actually swimming while holding the stick between them, which reminded me of Toby and Joey. I wish I’d got better photos, but they didn’t keep still for long enough.

“Mum, that was GREAT! Where shall we go tomorrow?”

“I don’t know, Oscar, let’s see what the weather is doing then decide.”

“Can I run and play over there?”

“NO! Absolutely not.”

“Why?”

“Because that area is pure bog, and if you run into it, you might get stuck. When Toby was young, before we even had Joey, he took a flying leap into there thinking it was solid ground, and couldn’t get out.”

“Ugh. What did you do?”

“I waded in to rescue him. Above my knees in black, smelly mud. It wasn’t good.”

“I’m glad you told me. I’ll give that a miss.”

Back at home, the essay is over and Girl Child is finishing the referencing. I head out to start cooking dinner and there’s no sign of Oscar. After a while, I go to check.

“Are you tired, Oscar?”

“Very tired, Mum. Is it dinner time yet?”

“Almost, baby boy.”

“Think I’ll stay here with Anya until it’s ready. She says I’m a big help…”

“It looks as though you are, Oscar. Sweet dreams.”

Lockdown minus point number 5: Playing hide and seek on narrow paths through the glen.

Lockdown plus point number 5: We have the glens

Happy New Year from Writing with Labradors for 2021

Castletown Fireworks from Energy FM site

Happy New Year from Writing with Labradors for 2021

I generally do a short post at the beginning of each year, but for some reason this year I feel moved to do it at the end. This is probably to do with the extraordinary nature of 2020, where the world turned upside down for so many people. The internet is full of memes and jokes about how happy we’ll all be to see the end of 2020, and it’s certainly a year that very few of us will forget in a hurry.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter or read my blog posts, will know that with very few exceptions, I stay firmly out of contemporary politics. This doesn’t mean that I’m not aware of what is going on around me, it just means that I find the climate of political debate both toxic and pointless at times. There are people out there who can have a rational discussion on a public forum, but they’re few and far between. Overall, I prefer to keep conversations about the rights and wrongs of Brexit, Lockdown and the teaching of Black History in schools to my close family and friends.

This year it’s been harder than ever to do that, watching the flood of information and misinformation rushing through both traditional and social media. It has felt at times as though the whole world has gone mad, and the values of tolerance, acceptance and understanding that I was raised with have got lost in the compulsive collective need to prove a point, put down other people and above all, to be right. But it isn’t all doom and gloom.

What 2020 has confirmed for me is that there are people out there whom I’ve met both online and in person, who are simply great. They come together both online and in person, drawn by a love of reading, writing, history and good fun. They’re excited by new books, new ideas and photographs of cuddly Labradors. They speak to each other with respect and affection and acknowledge their differences with humour and tolerance. They are not all the same. Some are highly educated and well-respected in their field. Others are self-educated and come to the discussion full of questions, often bringing new ideas. The thing that they all have in common is an enthusiasm for learning about people both fictional and in real life. They are entertaining, they are generous with their time and knowledge and they are kind.

A lot of you will recognize yourselves in this, and you are all my people. While there are people like you in the world, the madness will never win. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve done in 2020. Every review, every humorous comment, every mad exchange on Twitter and every time you’ve answered a call for information with more than I could ever have hoped for, you prove the pessimists and the doomsayers wrong. Let’s all keep doing it.

Groudle Beach

For me, 2020 has been a very mixed year. The pandemic has closed down the world and left me marooned on this little island in the middle of the Irish Sea, with none of the freedom to travel that I used to enjoy. At the same time, it’s made me appreciate where I live more than ever before. Watching how the people of the Isle of Man have dealt with this chaos makes me proud of my adopted homeland.

In family matters, it’s been a happy year. My son is very settled with his lovely girlfriend, who has become a member of our family. If all goes well, I doubt he’ll still be living here this time next year, a thought which makes me happy and a little sad. My daughter has embarked on her second year in York with great panache, coming out with firsts so far and treating quarantine and lockdowns as a minor inconvenience. The man I married has utterly failed to miss travelling to London for work and is becoming more Manx by the day.

“You’re going all the way to Peel for the evening? Are you staying over, then?”

It’s seven miles.

It took a long time to adjust to the loss of Joey, and it still catches me every now and again. Oscar has proved a worthy successor to my two old fellas, and when we can find a suitable puppy, we’ll be bringing in reinforcements for him on the staff of Writing with Labradors. I can’t wait.

Professionally, it’s been my most successful year to date, although the stress of the first lockdown and the pandemic generally definitely slowed my writing down a lot. Sales have been good, and reviews have been excellent. For the second year in a row, I had a book shortlisted for the Society for Army Historical Research fiction prize, this year with This Blighted Expedition. I was invited to take part in the amazing Waterloo Remembered online celebrations earlier this year, and I’ve been interviewed on various podcasts and blogs through the year.

 

 

I completed and published book six of the Peninsular War Saga, An Unmerciful Incursion. I’ve begun research and planning for two new books. I also found a new editor, who is oddly enough an old friend of mine, and who is working out brilliantly so far.

Things I didn’t manage to achieve. Well obviously, my annual research trip was cancelled this year, as were all the conferences and historical events I hoped to attend. I didn’t manage to finish getting the books out in paperback, for which I apologise. The work is still ongoing, and it will happen, I promise you.

I have big plans for 2021. Next year I aim to publish two books at least. One will be This Bloody Shore which is book three in the Manxman series, and the other is An Indomitable Brigade, which is book seven of the Peninsular War Saga. I’m currently working on both and still haven’t completely decided which is going to come out first. I’ll let you know when I’m certain.

I also aim to get all the books edited and available in paperback, and I’ll be writing my usual three free short stories for Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Christmas, with a possible extra one in the summer. And if the current two books go well, I would love to get off book three of the Manxman as well, although that might be asking a bit too much. We’ll see.

When I’ve finished this, I am off to organise the house for the New Year’s Party we’re hosting this evening for our young people. I’m so conscious of how privileged I am to be doing this, at this moment in time, when other people are buckling down for another lockdown and more restrictions. Even tomorrow’s clear up won’t seem so bad this year, as I’ll feel lucky to be doing it.

Well, maybe not that lucky.

Happy New Year from Writing with Labradors for 2021. I hope you’ll all manage to celebrate in whatever way you can, and I look forward to hearing a lot more from you all in the coming year.

With love from the Isle of Man.

Lynn and Oscar

Salts Mill and Saltaire

Salt Mill

I’d never been to Salts Mill and Saltaire, the Victorian model village in Shipley, Bradford, until a recent visit with friends, and it turns out that I’ve been missing out. There is enough history there to satisfy a geek like me, with the added bonus of specialist shops, a gallery and two cafes to keep the rest of the party entertained.

 

Saltaire was built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. Salt was a cloth manufacturer who took over his father’s textile business in 1833 and expanded it over a period of twenty years to be the largest employer in Bradford. He was an alderman and then mayor of Bradford, and was elected to Parliament in 1848. Salt’s business was spread between five different mills, and with business booming, he decided to build a new mill, consolidating his operations into one place.

 

 

Salt, a deeply religious man, and a known philanthropist, was concerned about the over-crowded conditions in Bradford so bought land in Shipley, just outside Bradford, beside the River Aire, the Midland Railway and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.  Building began in 1851 and Saltaire Mills opened in 1853. To accommodate his workers, Salt then commissioned housing close to the mill. A model village grew up, which included well-built houses, a hospital, bathhouses, almshouses and churches.  The Congregational church, now known as Saltaire United Reformed Church, was built at Salt’s own expense and he donated the land upon which the Wesleyan Chapel was built. With the moral improvement  and probably the work performance of his workforce in mind, he forbade public houses or beer shops from the village. The village had a public institute which included a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and a gym. There was also a village school, a park, allotments and a boathouse.

Salt wrote little about his motive for building Saltaire, but it was probably a combination of Christian charity and economic good sense. The village provided a well-housed, local workforce which was very good for business. At the same time, it is clear that Salt sincerely believed that he was doing God’s work in creating a clean, healthy environment for his people, which contrasted with the appalling conditions in the slums of Bradford.

Sir Titus Salt died in 1876, leaving the business to his son. Saltaire was then taken over by a partnership led by Sir James Roberts. Salts Mill finally closed as a textile mill in 1986. Today it has been renovated and houses an eclectic mix of commercial, leisure and residential spaces. The mill is enormous, a monument to Victorian industrialism, with the village neatly laid out beside the canal.

Inside the main mill building is the 1853 art gallery which is devoted to the works of Bradford born artist David Hockney. There are two good cafes, a book shop and a gallery shop which sells prints, cards and art supplies. I love gallery shops and have a tendency to spend more money than I should on beautiful notebooks and pretty cards. I keep a notebook for each new book I write, and they are never ever a plain A4 pad.

I was not tempted by The Home which sells designer furniture and other homeware at eye-watering prices. I’m genuinely fascinated trying to guess who would spend £2500 on what looks like a very ordinary plastic chair to me, but I’m happy to acknowledge my ignorance of modern interior design and save my pennies for books and gorgeous stationery.

My favourite part of Saltaire, though, was not the shops, the gallery or the cafes, although all are lovely. It wasn’t even the museum area, which shows a film telling the history of the village and some memorabilia associated with Sir Titus Salt and Saltaire, although I do recommend that, to get an overview of how this project came about. The real joy of Saltaire is in the narrow streets of the village itself, which give a real sense of a bygone era. I had a weird sense of familiarity walking through those streets, some of which probably came from my memories of similar workers cottages which still existed in London’s East End during my childhood, although I did discover afterwards that Saltaire is used as a location for filming Peaky Blinders, and I’m a big fan.

A surprising number of the original buildings survive, including the Institute which is now known as Victoria Hall, and the beautiful United Reformed Church. The houses are lived in and clearly much loved. Modern shops have moved in, and I was particularly entertained by a rather nice looking bar and restaurant, imaginatively called “Don’t Tell Titus” in reference to the founder’s refusal to allow alcohol to be sold anywhere in the village.

United Reformed Church

From the village streets, I walked down to the church and then across the bridge to the canal towpath. On a sunny February afternoon, the canal was beautiful, with the towpath clearly very popular with local families. There is an attractive park alongside, and beyond that, the River Aire. The park was originally known as Saltaire Park, and is now known as Roberts Park, and it was laid out for the recreational use of the inhabitants of Salt’s model village.

I’m not a huge fan of Victorian paternalism, and it’s easy to see the economic advantages to a man like Titus Salt in creating a model village for his workforce. Nevertheless, there is still something admirable about Salt’s genuine interest in the welfare of the people who lived in Saltaire and worked at the mill. Salt Mill and the village of Saltaire are a fascinating piece of nineteenth century Victorian history and a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Also, the cake in the tea shop was really, really good…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux