Eric Smith is now eighty-three years old and his health is not too good, but his fascination for Saltaire and his detailed memory for people and events in the Mill and the Village are unimpaired. Born in Thomas Street, Shipley, he attended Charlestown Infants' (now demolished), Saltaire Road and Albert Road schools, leaving when he was thirteen.
His first job was at Ambler's Dumb Mills, but he soon left to be apprenticed with Holdsworth's painters and decorators. World War II had him applying for the RAF but failing to get in because he was in a reserved occupation. So he changed jobs, re-applied and was accepted. After the war, he was in Salts Mill as a bobbin ligger, taker off and job lad before returning to Holdsworth's to complete the equivalent of his decorating apprenticeship. With this qualification he found a job with Bradford Council Direct Painting section until he was made redundant. So it was back to Salts Mill, on the maintainence staff as a painter, based in Shed 48. But Eric always wanted more out of the job, and in addition to his painting he joined the Mill fire brigade, becoming Fire Chief. He remembers the fire in Twisting in 1960, which caused the roof to fall in. Even this extra job did not satisfy Eric's restless energy. He joined the security force in the Mill on an occasional basis and used to stand in at short notice when full time staff failed to turn up. This involved patrolling the Mill and acting as gateman. Finally, he was involved in tours of the Mill. He recalls how one of the cellars was used as a classroom, with a TV display.
Eric retired when he was sixty, after suffering a major road accident on his cycle. He still lives in the heart of the Village with his wife Dorothy.