Friday 30 December 2016

Explore another level

When a bookseller tells you to go visit a nearby(ish) competitor you take them at their word, but in the case of this week's bookshop I have to admit I initially – briefly – found myself doubting the recommendee's wisdom.

I'd arrived at the destination but not found the massive room of diverse books promised, instead discovering a large room sparsely filled with art books. The art books were varied and interesting, but not the wealth of titles I'd anticipated. However the praise given to Salts Mill Bookshop, near Bradford, was so convincing I'd driven an hour or so out of my way as part of a seven-ish hour journey and I wasn't going to let my uncomfortable first impression deter me from finding out more.

I persevered with the art room, found a few unexpected gems (it is a very diverse offering) and didn't feel too out of my depth but resolved not to write about the bookshop because I didn't see how I could possibly encourage my readers to visit a place I wasn't able to fully appreciate myself.

Then, just as I was about to give up, I noticed a door to other floors. Whether through tiredness, blindness or a lack of good signage, I'd almost missed this portal to a whole other floor of books awaited me. And it's a really, really good floor.

As it's based in a former mill, the bookshop space is massive* with large windows and the occasional structural detail acting as a reminder of that past life. My first view was of long wavy bookcases which draw the eye in. Tables of book highlights are everywhere (The Chimes by Anna Smaill caught my eye), while gifts and cards also liberally sprinkled around the room.

Importantly, it should also be stressed that this is a proper bookshop. All the usual genres are there and carefully considered recommendations are found hand-written by the booksellers, things that could easily be overlooked if this was a gimmicky tourist destination.

I spent a long time slowly working my way down one side of the bookshop and up the other, wandering from fiction to non-fiction and taking in children's on the way, simply enjoying the buzz of people among the books. It's hard to say if it was the variety of books or people that made the experience so enjoyable as there's a lot to be said for being surrounded by other bookshoppers, but this room of books is definitely worth all the praise it can be given and makes me determined to return to the Bradford area whenever I get the chance.

From wandering around the rest of the building I discovered how much more there is to Salt's Mill, including a restaurant and art gallery, but the large space given over to the bookshop is what makes this conversion really worth a visit.

Salt's Mill Bookshop
Victoria Road, Saltaire,
West Yorkshire, BD18 3LA
Tel: 01274 531163

* Possibly bigger than a floor of Foyles, but I wouldn't like to state that as fact.


  1. I loved our visit to Salts Mill - but unlike you, I didn't see the signs, and completely missed the bookshop! Booooo - just have to go back :-/

    1. You have my sympathy as it really was only luck that I found the bookshop proper. It's worth a return trip. Honest!


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