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Second installment

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Salts MillIt is twenty years since   Jonathan Silver bought Salts Mill. Roger Clarke got the true story of those years from Maggie Silver. Last month we learned that one of Jonathan’s original aims was to make the Mill into the northernmost part of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Sadly, this was not to happen. However, other dreams soon became reality, due to Jonathan’s hard work and willingness to fettle himself in whatever jobs needed to be done. He was night watchman, chasing away children and youths intent on smashing windows and vandalising the property. He helped to tear up the floors in the galleries, to reveal the Yorkshire stone flags underneath. He managed to open the 1853 Gallery in November 1987, just five months after buying the Mill.

Salts Mill 1853 GalleryIt was a family project and Maggie recalls that she was the first Gallery Assistant. She was also one of the first chefs in the Diner, making fishcakes and salt beef for Jonathan’s business contacts, who were encouraged to bring clients there. The watchwords were quality, culture and commerce; and the way in which Jonathan combined the three was pure genius. Like Titus Salt before him, “only the best would do” and the mercurial Jonathan with his extraordinary energy put together the best in goods, service and the arts to create a unique attraction for visitors. They used to say “Jonathan always has time to listen – just knock on his door”. The problem was finding which door – and then competing with people wanting decisions on a million details which Jonathan insisted upon supervising personally. 

[Image from Salts Mill's own website:]

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