It was founded by Sir Titus Salt in 1853. He had moved his entire business from Bradford to a rural site near Shipley to provide better sanitary arrangements for his workers than could be had in Bradford. He also built better houses, a park, a hospital and wash-houses with running water, as well as an Institute for recreation and education, with a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and gymnasium. There were also almshouses, allotments, bathhouses and a boathouse. The Mausoleum houses Sir Titus's body; he died in 1876.
A similar project had been started a few years earlier by Edward Ackroyd at Copley.