will know Clive Woods, with his ruddy complexion, bushy beard, ready smile and friendly (rather eccentric) manner. His knowledge of the true history of Saltaire is second to none that I know and he prides himself on the researched accuracy of his information. He is best known as the Village historian, but how many people are aware, for instance, that he is a Lancastrian whose teaching career has spanned education in Lancaster, Jamaica, Birmingham and Leeds.
[Image: Clive Woods. © Richard Heald, 2006]
been a surprising one, from the Mining and Technical College in Wigan to Lancaster University; to Kingston, Jamaica on a “Study and Serve” scheme; back to this country and Saltaire via Birmingham. His travels have always been determined more by chance than by planning: Had he not been inspired by Joe Hilton, a Catholic priest who was also an enthusiastic historian, he would never have done a History degree; without which he would never have found himself the only male teacher at St. Andrew’s High School for Girls in Jamaica. Had he not had a good friend in Larry Anderson, an educational psychologist from Bradford, he would not have been drawn to this area.
Finally, it was a chance remark by a Dr. Parker in Leeds that led him to look at the impact that Titus Salt had on the occupational diseases of the nineteenth century.
to become a bookshop owner and researcher in Saltaire in 1986. Funding came from the royalties on his Guide to Saltaire , from guided walks around the Village and from two years hard work as caretaker of Victoria Hall. He also made a huge impact on the Village during the public inquiries into the Aire Valley Road Scheme in the 1980s, when it was proposed to buid a trunk road through the Village. Clive was an important figure in the protest against this, helped to establish the Village Society (he was the first Chair) and was part of the group which had the Village listed by English Heritage and got the Town Scheme adopted – which all culminated in stopping the desecration of the Village and gaining World Heritage Status. So, together with many other people, he was very much involved in writing the latest chapter in Saltaire’s history.
Clive suffered a stroke while working at Victoria Hall. He lost his speech and the use of an arm and one of his legs was seriously weakened. Although largely recovered now in all three of these areas, his illness has weakened him considerably.
When I asked him about the consequences of his stroke I expected a catalogue of the symptoms which continue to plague him. Ever the professional historian, he answered: “A year’s lost research”. His mind still races with ideas while his body struggles to keep up. He still has clear research aims – for an up to date biography of Sir Titus Salt plus a biography of local poet Ann Moss. He also works tirelessly for the Glen Tramway and the museum there.
in a local historian, according to Clive, are: curiosity; refusal to accept received opinion; readiness to go anywhere to find a new fact. In his case, having watched him in the pursuit of new information, I would add the tenacity of a terrier to this list. If you have any information about Saltaire, don’t throw it away; pass it Clive’s way and you can be sure he will make good use of it.
Sentinel readers – and writers – will wish Mr Woods many more years of exciting and profitable research.
The Saltaire Sentinel, December 2007
THANK YOU, CLIVE SAY WE WHO LOVE SALTAIR