Sir Titus Salt built his business around improving conditions for the people who worked under him. His greatest achievements in life revolved around trying to start a model village and factory to support the people who lived there. He is an important example of what socially conscious capitalism can accomplish.
He was educated in the wool trade by the age of 17, and was known to be a spirited worker. He joined his family wool business, where he soon became one of the driving forces behind its growth and success. He was also devoutly religious, and an important and well-known member of the Horton Lane Congregational Chapel.
Titus did not get married until the age of 27, but he began a risky business venture at around the same time. Investing in a new Russian type of wool that came from the banks of the river Don, the new wool took off and catapulted the Salt business to big-time success.
By 1848, his efforts in the community led to his election as mayor. He was dealing with poor working conditions in town, and a pending cholera outbreak. Salt opened a factory in Saltaire, which was near the Aire Valley. This cleaner place to live made workers happier and healthier. He built impressive-looking schools and churches, some of which are still standing, and recreational facilities too.
Titus represented one of the greatest philanthropists of his age, but he had standards too. Being a strict Methodist, he did not tolerate drinking or gambling. His workers were also required to attend chapel every Sunday.
After his death, his business faded. The mills and towns he built, however, lasted well into the 20th century.