Saturday, 14 April 2012
Dean Clough Mills
It's not only Bradford that has a legacy of huge old mill buildings. The complex known as Dean Clough Mills is in Halifax but it has two interesting associations with Salts Mill in Saltaire.
Formerly the world's largest carpet factory, it was owned by the Crossley family - and Titus Salt Jnr married Catherine Crossley in 1866, thus linking the two textile dynasties.
The second link is through Jonathan Silver, who bought Saltaire's empty and degenerating Salts Mill in 1987. Early in his entrepreneurial career, Jonathan built up a chain of men's clothing boutiques. He sold it in the late 1970s, having by then opened another shop selling pictures and furniture. Through buying cloth, he had met and become friendly with Ernest Hall, a textile manufacturer. They went into partnership, buying property and in 1983 they bought the empty Dean Clough Mills in Halifax. They initially opened a bar in the mill and sold and let parts of the buildings to other companies. Whilst they both had vision, they were very different characters and it was soon apparent that the business partnership was not working, so Ernest Hall bought Jonathan Silver out in 1984. The Silver family, seeking change, then set off on a three-year round-the-world adventure. It was on their return from this trip that Jonathan bought Salts Mill, no doubt encouraged by his experience of the regeneration of Dean Clough.
Dean Clough is another success story. It now houses many different businesses, has nine exhibition galleries, a shop, a theatre, a cookery school, restaurant, hotel, conference facilities and a café-bar. It's a renowned jazz venue and hosts a rolling programme of concerts, plays and exhibitions. It doesn't have the same personality as Salts Mill, being a much more utilitarian building, and there is no surrounding village (though the Crossleys were enlightened employers and built some almshouses for former employees). But nevertheless it's an interesting place to visit - though it proved difficult to photograph!