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Fifth installment: It is twenty years since Jonathan Silver bought Salts Mill; Roger Clarke got the true story of those years from Maggie Silver.

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Salts MillLast month we learned about the triptych by David Hockney, showing the strength of character and composure in Jonathan’s face at a time when he had only a short time to live. Below this image is a painting of Jonathan’s hands in composure on his lap. Above it is a Burmantoft vase with flowers. Maggie explains that she just could not have left a blank space in this gallery. Jonathan believed that you have to make the most of every space to attract the public: “You have to get people to notice.” The pictures are obviously extremely precious to Maggie, brought from the Wetherby house which she shared with Jonathan. The gallery is also temporarily home to the huge canvas of the Mill in bright, primary colours, which is reproduced for sale in many forms in the 1853 Gallery.

Taking on the responsibility for the Mill after Jonathan’s death was stressful. Maggie felt that she needed to continue to improve standards and fulfil the vision; but  there were pressures at home. Daughter Davina was sixteen and preparing to go to Cambridge University. With some difficulty, the decision was reached that she should go. Meanwhile Zoe, leaving Cambridge with a First Class Degree, was looking towards employment in London. Within a very short space of time Maggie had lost the closeness of her family. However, with Jonathan’s brother Robin, she has continued to develop the Mill.

To be continued...


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