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First installment

It is twenty years since the late Jonathan Silver bought Salts Mill; an event which is generally – and quite justifiably – regarded as the most important moment in the history of the Village since Sir Titus built it. In a fascinating new series, Roger Clarke got the true story of those years from Jonathan's widow, Maggie Silver. This story really begins with the sale of Jonathan Silver’s retail empire. He had thirteen menswear shops in major cities across the country. It continues with his association with Sir Ernest Hall at Dean Clough Mills in Halifax. His ideas then perhaps distilled over the course of  a three year trip around the world which he took with his wife Maggie and their daughters Zoe and Davina.

On their return to Yorkshire, the girls needed to be settled in school. Jonathan and Maggie brought Zoe for interview at Bradford Girls’ Grammar in February 1987 and then had coffee in a first floor café in Saltaire. Looking across the rooftops at the Mill, shrouded in mist (“Like the Marie Celeste”, says Maggie), they decided to buy it. The price is reported elsewhere to be “less than a million”, but in its delapidated state it is small wonder there was a bargain to be had, if you had the cash. Jonathan saw opportunities where others saw only dereliction. He not only had the cash, he also had the vision, drive and confidence  to make things happen.

His aim was to make the Mill into the northernmost part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, perhaps housing its Asian collection.  Sadly, this was not to happen. However, other dreams soon became reality.

To be continued... Go to next >>


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