Salts MillSalts Mill was the place that I first heard about David Hockney, my chosen arts hero. We decided to go after my Grandmother recommended it. Not only did it have Hockney’s beautiful artwork on show, it also had a very interesting history of the mill. I found the mill’s past fascinating, and the work of Sir Titus Salt and Jonathan Silver inspirational.
History of the Mill – Sir Titus SaltSir Titus Salt was born in Leeds, and his father leased a 100 acre farm where Salt worked hard and prospered. However in 1822, Titus’s father left the farm to start his own business in Bradford as a wool-stapler. Titus decided to join him, and as a result, learnt all about the wool trade.
History of the Mill – Sir Titus SaltWhen he was 28, Titus invested in some Russian wool to sell back in England. However no-one would buy it, due to the fact it was difficult to process. Instead of quitting there, Titus Salt bought his own mill and spun the wool himself. Due to the mills success, he bought four more in Bradford.
History of the Mill – Sir Titus SaltHe married Caroline in 1830, and a few years later he had made a great success out of Alpaca wool. The couple had eleven children and were one of the richest families in Yorkshire.
History of the Mill – Sir Titus SaltTitus Salt had always been aware of the poverty of his staff. He had a vision of ‘industrial utopia’. Once he had a great amount of success, he drew up plans for a new mill. The Mill was to be on the outskirts of Bradford, away from the industrial centre, with more fresh air and space. In 1853 the Mill was opened on Salts 50th birthday.
History of the Mill – Sir Titus SaltAfter the mill was built, Titus Salt went on to create a whole village for his workers. The village included houses, a church, a school and a park. The mill was built from a warm yellow sandstone and he named the village Saltaire. Titus Salt was a man who really cared about his workers, not just what they did for him.
History of the Mill – Sir Titus SaltIn 1869 Titus Salt was made a baronet by Queen Victoria, making him Sir Titus Salt, for his extraordinary efforts with his mills. Sir Titus Salt died in 1876, the year that the last building in Saltaire was finished. He was given a civic funeral watched by 100,000 people.
History of the Mill – JonathanSilverJonathan Silver was born in Bradford in 1949. While he was not the smartest of pupils, he showed an entrepreneurial talent from an early age. While working on his schools magazine, he was given the opportunity to meet David Hockney. He studied Art History and Textiles at university and by 1979 had 13 shops across the UK.
History of the Mill – JonathanSilverHe started many other businesses but in 1984, Silver, his wife Maggie and their two children, sold everything they owned and travelled the world for a year and a half. When they returned in 1987, Silver bought Salts Mill. His vision was to turn it into a ‘vibrant place of art and commerce’. It desperately need repairing in many parts, but Silver was determined.
History of the Mill – JonathanSilverHe worked endlessly on the project, often starting at five am and finishing late at night. He had kept in touch with David Hockney since meeting him and created the 1853 Gallery to showcase Hockneys work. He made other areas into restaurants, shops and office space. Jonathan Silver kept working on Salts Mill, until his death in 1997.
My Visit to Salts MillUpon arrival, we entered the ground floor of the Mill, the 1853 Gallery, dedicated to Hockney’s work. What I found interesting about this floor was the amount of products they had on sale, art supplies, posters, calendars, even photography books, of which I bought one. Hot Shots by Kevin Meredith.
My Visit to Salts MillThen we went to the next floor, named Gallery 2. To get upstairs you could take an old fashioned lift, which, while safe, was quite scary and very jolty. When we got there, we could read about the history of the mill as I described earlier. It was interesting as this floor also had a bike shop, mountain ware shop and a jewellery shop, as well as a restaurant, called Salts Diner.
My Visit to Salts MillWe decided to eat lunch as Salts Diner, where everything was themed with David Hockney’s sketches of his dog, Stanley. The plates featured them, the napkins, photos on the wall, they even sold T-Shirts with them on! The food is rated very highly in the local area, I had a pizza, and can clarify that it is delicious, both my parents and sister thoroughly enjoyed their meals too.
My Visit to Salts MillWe then continued around the mill to find a home wares shop next to the restaurant, with a diverse range of beautifully laid out furniture. They seemed to sell everything, from napkins to chairs. We then went around Gallery 2, which was quite similar to the 1853 Gallery. It also had a small bookshop with a wide range which was interesting.
My Visit to Salts MillUp the elevator again and we came to another gallery called 25 Trees and Other Pictures, which featured more of Hockneys work. There is also an antiques shop, which was very fascinating. The rest of the mill contains shops, including a music shop with varieties of 17th century instruments such as the lute, and office space for various companies.
My Visit to Salts MillOverall I found my visit to the Mill very interesting. I loved how there was a mix of art and commerce at the gallery. In fact the range of shops alone was very diverse. It made for a brilliant day out, and I would love to go again. If there was one improvement I could make to Salts Mill, it would be to have more gallery space for local artists to showcase their work.
RecommendationsI would definitely recommend this museum to others, as its not just a museum, it is teamed with interesting commerce to make your visit fun and exciting. I feel I really got to know the mill and its history. The people behind it were truly inspirational and it is now home to artwork of none other than David Hockney, who does beautiful photography and art for you to see.