| Saltaire people - Anne and Roger Heald
Written by Roger Clarke, November 2006
Anne and Roger Heald took over the business at Number 2, Victoria Road in November, 1993. The property had been empty for about 2 years, after being owned by a property developer in London who had hoped to capitalise on interest rate rises. It needed major refurbishments, but eventually opened as the Saltaire Card and Gift Centre at Easter 1994. Anne and Roger converted the upstairs to a self contained flat (they still lived in Leeds). In many ways this was a return home for Anne. She is originally from Baildon, and after attending the Woodbottom First School, transferred to Salts Grammar, where she remained until school leaving. Her career in nursing began in Leeds where she trained at St James and Seacroft Hospitals. She continued at Seacroft in the Paediatrics Dept.
She met Roger (at the Mecca) and they married in 1970. Roger’s background had been in accountancy, and he had managed a number of businesses before he became self employed in 1981 to join the wholesale greetings cards industry.
Saltaire was originally set up just a card and gift centre. The information centre side of the business grew up after the closure of the Library in Victoria Hall, which had an information centre component. More people began to use the shop to find out about the area, which prompted Anne to do a Tourist Board Course and they became a Network TIC. However, in October, 2001, Saltaire was de-networked because they could not meet the increasingly stringent criteria without funding. The Saltaire Information Centre continued to run successfully from the sale of local maps, books, cards and gifts, and organisation of the increasingly popular guided walks. They published a Saltaire guide book, written by Clive Woods, local historian, which sold an amazing 10,000 copies mainly through the shop. They also published Saltaire calendars and postcards, and originated tea towels, mugs, key rings and other tourist led gifts.
Anne and Roger enjoyed developing this new venture. They helped to set up the Saltaire Traders Association, which also involved Malcolm Gray from Carlton Antiques, Helen Kemp, Maureen and Mervyn Dixon at Beeties and a number of other businesses. Together they organised Victorian Evenings around Christmas, Easter Extravaganzas, and other promotional events. They also pressed for improvements in the signage for the Village, and were instrumental in persuading Ordnance Survey to put Saltaire on their maps as a named area.
Anne had been a member of the Village Society since they came to the area, and they jointly had printed the Society’s original postcards which had been so popular in the past. This produced important revenue which enabled new street signs to be put up in the Village. They were actively involved in projects such as welcoming and entertaining guests from the Orient Express, and the 125th anniversary of the Pullman Rail Service to Bradford. They were often approached by the Press and the Media for information about the Village, and well known to Heritage organisations which sent weekly groups throughout the year to tour the site. Anne has also been an active member of the Project Team which was established by Bradford Council to plan developments here. But most of all, they’ve become a welcoming feature of the Village, where locals and visitors alike can come and share news and views and have a natter. The property is now on an Estate Agent’s books, and the shop, downstairs flat, and the upstairs accommodation are being sold as a whole, while the shop contents are being sold off at 50% discounts.
Anne and Roger hope to retire – that is until this adventurous couple find some other outlet for their restless energies. The Village won’t be the same without them! Closure of the business will also mean saying goodbye to Susan Jones, who has worked part time in the shop since 1995. Her ready smile and warm welcome have encouraged visitors into the shop, and her fund of information about the area has helped countless customers. She will now have more time to share with her family, especially her grandchildren. She will be sorely missed.