Monday, 6 August 2012

Milner Field - Bradford, Leeds And Airedale Psychic Research Society

The view towards Milner Field
Most people in the Aire Valley district will have heard of Milner Field, the house built between Gilstead and Shipley on the site of a much older property, also called Milner Field for Sir Titus Salt’s son, Titus Junior.

Much of the writing about Milner Field is either pomp or ceremony, forgetting how the poor people of the Victorian and Edwardian times lived, or how hard they would have had to work in order to make the mill owners rich and focusing instead on the splendour and wealthy connections of these rich mill owners and their equally wealthy associates.  Of course they held power jobs and knew all the right people; they had enough money to do so.

We are not sitting in judgement however, only it is probably safe to say that in some respects, the Saltaire village of yesteryear could be likened to the famous 1960’s television programme, starring Patrick McGoohan, (who spent some of his life in Sheffield) called The Prisoner.  The programme centres on a model village which the inhabitants are not allowed to leave.  In the original 1960’s series, a large white balloon called a Rover prevents inhabitants from leaving.  They are uniformly dressed and live in similar little houses, controlled by a person known only as ‘Number Two’ and his team.  All inhabitants of The Village wear a badge with a penny farthing bicycle on it and uniform jackets and clothes.  For some reason this reminds me of the Saltaire of yesterday, although of course it is a very different village now.

Our aim at the Bradford, Leeds and Airedale Psychic Research Society is to look in to the background of places to try to understand possible psychic activity, or even sick building syndrome.  We are not going round trying to manufacture ghosts, or to annoy anything that may be there, but we are very serious professionals in this field, as far as anyone can be a professional of the unknown, which is again open to debate as there is no right or wrong answer, however there are still laws of probability and codes which we go by.

In the last year a couple of books have been produced about Milner Field by different authors.  One is a background of the actual house and the people who lived there and the other expounds some theories as to what possibly made Milner Field so unlucky. Some of these ideas are pure physics, the others are paranormal.

Could the old photos of the house Milner Field be haunted?  Or is one in particular?  I have experienced the curious phenomenon in that if I talk about Milner Field or look at a certain photo of it, my feet start itching really badly, so much so that I have to stop whatever I am doing.

An example of this happened earlier just this last week.  I was talking about Irish ghosts and I said to my colleague that I wondered if anyone who had ever lived a Milner Field had Irish ancestry.  My feet began to itch terribly so I looked up, for some reason, Mrs Hollins who died at Milner Field of pneumonia in January 1926, aged 43.  In the book I was reading it showed Mrs Hollins in a First World War nurse outfit and said her maiden name was Anne Neilson.

I found her on the internet listed as Annie Neilson Garrett, from a family listed in the Irish peerage and her father who wrote a book, had attended Cambridge University and was a Justice of the Peace in Epsom, although he was born in Ireland as was her mother, according to the internet.  Both Annie Neilson Garrett and her husband Arthur Remington Hollins were listed on a website called Descendants of John Antill, basically listing virtually every family descended from John Antill who lived in the 16th century.  The odd thing was I also found listed on the same website, some very distant relatives of mine who must also have been descended from John Antill.

There is an account of a green ghost at Milner Field but there are also reports of other spirits being present.  The place was always thought to be haunted pre-1960.  One of the ghosts reported is a female.  Is it Mrs Hollins or someone else?

Milner Field Revisited

The South Lodge

The later managing directors of Salts Mill, Saltaire, married ladies whose families were more minor members of the peerage.

Eva Siggs had many siblings and she was one of the youngest members of her family, living at 98 Acre Lane, Lambeth, Greater London.  She was born in 1874.  In 1900, she married Ernest Henry Gates.  Their son, Ernest Everard Gates was born in 1903. 

In later life, Eva Gates suffered ill health; her sister, Laura, also mentioned in the peerage along with her father George, died somewhat prematurely in 1921.  Eva died around October 1923, presumably at the Milner Field home in Bingley.  

Ernest Gates met with an accident, injuring his foot and after going in to a private nursing home in Eldon Place, Bradford, he died on April 1, 1925.  His Will was proved later that year, when his son and successor, Ernest Everard Gates had moved back to Norfolk.

Ernest Gates’ family had an ancestral coat of arms and his family home was Old Buckenham Hall, Attleborough, Norfolk.  The residence later became a school which was destroyed by fire in 1952.

There is a rather crude ‘spoof’ Facebook page in existence suggesting that Eva Gates haunts Milner Field as she used to sit in the conservatory and would often request the gardeners to place bets on horse races for her, or so some say.

A book written some time ago about Hollins and Viyella, the latter a mixed fabric and later a brand-name also associated with a company called Courtaulds, mentions the family bearing the name formerly referred to.

Why would Eva Gates or indeed Annie Hollins haunt the ruins of Milner Field?  Well, it is difficult to say.  Perhaps they hoped for more from their physical life than it would ultimately offer either, or perhaps their illnesses made more of a dent in the ether.

The most obvious culprit for the destruction of anyone who later lived at Milner Field would be Titus Salt Junior.  He overspent and ruined himself, entertained royalty and funding his mining activities in America with the Dayton Coal and Iron Company.  

Yet he put on a splendid Jubilee Exhibition which lost him a lot of money and it is very sad because you can see the human side of him and his efforts in this marvellous attempt to create an amazing exhibition.  The problem was that, perhaps from a marketing perspective, Saltaire was too small, the exhibition should have been held in Shipley or Bradford.  Shortly after the exhibition closed, in November 1887, Titus Junior was found dead in the billiard room at Milner Field aged only 44.  

James Roberts is the dark horse; later Sir James Roberts, he was created a baronet by the same person who had been entertained by Titus Junior, the former Prince of Wales, King Edward VII.  Mr Roberts was a man from supposedly humble beginnings in Haworth, working his way up and looking for opportunities to take over both Salts Mill and as many of the directors’ residences as he could.  After wrestling The Knoll, in Baildon, from fallen Salts director Charles Stead, he then set his sights on Milner Field.

Sir James did suffer family tragedies whilst living at Milner Field, but he and his wife came through personally unscathed, owning both Strathallan Castle in Scotland and Fairlight Hall.  Both lived to reach a decent age.  He also bought the Bronte parsonage in Haworth and presented it to the local council, to be used as a museum. 

James Roberts was the man that the Salt brothers, Titus and Edward, should have kept the closest eye on.  Anyone who looks in to the situation closely can see that James Roberts waited on the misfortune of others, namely Titus and Edward Salt and even Charles Stead, in order to take what they had and keep it for himself.  Like Julius Caesar or Octavian, the Roman Emperors of classical times, he humiliated the Salts and Stead, building his own empire at Salts Mill. Some would call him the perfect businessman. 

As far as hauntings go, we have a lot of disgruntled persons both incarnate and discarnate, roaming around.  Then perhaps we forget to mention that Catherine Salt as a member of the Halifax-based Crossley carpet family, even in late Victorian and Edwardian times, would have expected a be shown a good deal of respect.  As a woman and lone parent, upon the death of her husband, she apparently had to mortgage Milner Field to her brother.  Upon vacating the property, James Roberts assumed residence.

Mrs Catherine Salt would have experienced an acute loss of status following the death of her husband and she would still have been young enough to marry again, but would not have been seen as a wealthy enough prospect by suitors within her social circle.  She may therefore have become both justifiably bitter and disillusioned to see others in her husband’s place at Salts Mill. It must have hurt her.

Who goes (there), you decide!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Dayton Coal and Iron Company - More Supernatural Happenings



I only buy a local paper very occasionally. I'll be honest, I usually read something in it that winds me up, so I leave it alone much of the time these days. I actually once worked for our local paper and also for the Yorkshire Post, but there you go

Anyway, for some reason I did buy a copy of the local paper yesterday and in it I read about historian Dave Shaw and associate Dave King going to Tennessee to view the mines and land formally owned by Titus Salt Junior and his company , The Dayton Coal and Iron Company.& This kind of set me off doing my own research as Saltaire, these days is a bit of a quango. Certain persons seem to be of the opinion that they 'own' Saltaire and its knowledge and are charged with protecting a heritage that has only come into the spotlight as a result of Jonathan Silver restoring the Mill and filling it with Hockney's work. Nothing to do with Salt.

The truth is that Denys Salt, grandson of Titus Salt Junior, chose to make his home in Austria where he co- authored a book called 'Austria - A Bibliography' part of a series aimed at scholars and he actually has very little to do with Saltiare other than by association with his forebears; he does not even live in the area.

With no disrespect to Saltaire or the Salts, they had actually completely lost control of the mill and their American mines, iron and coke works by the early 1890's and other than in name, their actual attachment ends there. Or does it? Because that is the angle I am looking in to.

Yes, some may scoff at the supernatural and that is just fine (for them!), but for those who believe or are of the spiritual persuasion we have the same rights as the atheists and scoffers. So for those who want to bask in the reflected glory of the Salt family up to the 1880s in the 21st Century, today, that is up to them. I am sure it brings in a lot of funding. And of course plenty of work for the photographers.

My concern is that there is usually something funny going on closely connected to Titus Junior. No one could live in his house, Milner Field. A different approach to investigating this is covered in our ebook, Milner Field: The Magickal Corridor, available on Amazon.

When we started studying Titus Junior we didn't intend to like him, but we did end up liking him, almost championing him, however not as fans or worshippers of Saltaire or the Salt history, which is just that - history.

The thing about Titus Salt Junior was that he so wanted to be one of the members of the top echelons of society, putting himself out for princes and princesses, to the cost of his health and his finances, but the Salts didn't perhaps have the business acumen of their father and they let others steal from them what their family had built up. James Roberts must have really been laughing up his sleeve, not that it did anyone any good who did take the Salts property.

Anyway, I read with interest the article in the Telegraph and Argus about the Richland Mine owned by Titus Junior and also backed by Mr Stead another Salts Director who eventually lost his home, The Knoll - James Roberts got this too. After several long hours of research and reading a lot of websites and articles that told a lot of different accounts, this is what I pieced together. Titus Junior was found dead in the billiard room of Milner Field in November 1887 by the way.

Titus Junior was, in my opinion, up to his usual tricks again! This time with the mines. He started buying up land in Dayton, near Chattanooga in Tennessee in 1879 and set up the Dayton Coal and Iron Company. Over 200 mine workers houses were built and an impressive house was built for his manager a Mr Ferguson with 10 bedrooms.There Coke ovens were hastily built and pig iron manufactured.

In 1884, despite the boom and employment of hundreds of people, Titus Junior got financing back up from James Watson Iron Merchants of Glasgow. When the Americans put tariffs and embargoes on foreign textile trade to protect its own textile industry in 1892, the mill began to suffer, Titus Junior was by that time some years departed and the whole concern of Dayton Coal and Iron Company was sold to James Watson Iron Merchants of Glasgow. Then it all goes wrong.

There were three main mines - the Richland mine, the Nelson mine and the Dixon-Slope mine.  According to one account, when digging in the Dixon-Slope mine, the miners were only 20 feet from a lucrative coal seam which they missed!

There was a disaster at the Nelson mine on December 20, 1895 killing many miners, accounts of exactly how many vary. Then there was an explosion at the Richmond mine in May 1901 which killed more miners, some of whom were entombed forever in the mine and others burned to death. Apparently some of the miners bodies were buried near the Richmond mine. After this on March 31, 1902 there was another disaster in the Nelson mine.

In between this miners set fire to some of the outbuildings and were forever striking.  Many lawsuits were brought against the Dayton Coal and Iron Company, owned by James Watson, Iron Merchants of Glasgow, for smoke pollution.

On June 24, 1913 Peter Donaldson, the well respected Managing Director of James Watson Iron Merchants who had offices in Glasgow at 7 Royal Bank Place, and also had offices in Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Swansea and Grangemouth, committed suicide. He chained himself into his car and drove it into the River Thames as himself and his companies faced ruin.

Peter Donaldson lived at 5 Prince's Terrace in Glasgow from 1905-1913 and had a summer house, Woodbine, which is now the Kilgreggan Hotel and he was instrumental in building Cove Burgh Hall as well as this he enjoyed yachting on the River Clyde.

The company eventually changed its name to the Cumberland Iron and Coal Co which is probably where the name Cumberland Way comes from.

I am of the opinion that, as with Milner Field, there were supernatural agencies at work, causing the trouble with these mines and also causing trouble with the Dayton Coal and Iron Company and those associated with it. It is exactly the same as what happened to Milner Field, reduced to rubble and who is the common denominator of all this? Well, whether the purists of Saltaire or the modern day Saltaire quango like it or not the catalyst is always Titus Salt Junior.

As a footnote and just to show how 'tuned in' I am, Harlington Craven, (our pen name for our ebook, Milner Field: The Magickal Corridor) is actually an ancestor of ours.  His father, from Baildon, Shipley, West Yorkshire, was an iron foundary foreman and Harlington went to America in the early 20th Century and along with another relative, he owned and ran an ironworks company, though luckily not on the scale of the Dayton enterprise. More eerily still, Harlington eventually returned from America and went to work in Glasgow, before returning to Bradford, where he died in his early 40's.

We used Harlington's name on the ebook about Milner Field because he was a free spirit, a person who's roots were from near Milner Field, but who got away and did his own thing.  We knew nothing of Titus Salt Junior's American Dayton Coal and Iron Company at that time and learned this only from the publicity given to Dave Shaw in the Telegraph and Argus of May 15, 2012 and from Dave Shaw's Saltaire Forum blog.

Mine Fired by Incendiaries as reported by the New York Times

Tennessee Mine Disaster as reported by the New York Times

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Milner Field House Wants Your Attention!



For the full history of the Milner Field House, there are plenty of explanations on the internet. We would never dream of insulting this Goetia/retro Gothic, Steam Punk house by attempting to put the ruins in the Triangle of Art. Let it run, there are plenty of beings who want their voices to be heard, so let them speak and listen to their exasperated whisperings. Demons or Angels, it is not for us to criticise where these energies arise from. We have to go with the flow and accept that life is always about being a healthy shade of grey or gray because who is to say which is the correct spelling? The right actions connect with the right diagnostic feelings/ isotonics and The House wishes to speak.