Salts Mill: The Owners and Managers: 1853-1987
The following short chronology gives a few basic facts about who owned or managed Salts Mill at specific points in its history of manufacturing textiles. Please also see our Salts Mill Timelines which provide more detail of the context of each time span and are free to download.
Titus Salt (senior) is awarded a baronetcy in 1869 and the company becomes Sir Titus Salt (Bart) Sons and Company. Sir Titus Salt is chairman of the company until his death in December 1876.
The family company continues with George Salt, Edward Salt, Titus Salt jnr., Charles Stead and William Stead as partners but investments in the United States of America, the untimely death of Titus Salt jnr. and international trading difficulties cause the company to go into voluntary administration. Salts Mill and the estate of Saltaire are ‘lost’ to the Salt Family just 16 years after Sir Titus Salt’s death.
A consortium of four Bradford businessmen – Isaac Smith, John Rhodes, John Maddocks and James Roberts purchase the mill and the estate. Smith and Maddocks sell their shareholdings to Roberts and Rhodes in 1989 and Rhodes resigns as a director in 1902.
James Roberts is sole owner of Salts Mill and the estate of Saltaire. He is awarded a baronetcy in 1909 but he suffered several personal tragedies in the untimely deaths of three of his four sons and his last remaining son being refused exemption from serving in World War One, where he was seriously injured. Despite these tragedies and trading difficulties during World War One, Sir James Roberts significantly extends Salts Mill, returns the business to profitability and over 4,000 workers are employed. With no sons to succeed him, Sir James Roberts decided to sell the mill and the estate.
A syndicate of Bradford ‘wool men’ purchase the mill and the estate. They are Sir James Hill, his sons Arthur and Albert; Sir Henry Whitehead and Ernest H Gates. Arthur Hill is the only member of the Hill family to take up a directorship.
In difficult economic times, the directors decide to become a public company in 1923 and the new company is incorporated as Salts (Saltaire) Ltd. A further decision to reduce costs of maintenance is made in 1933 when almost the whole of the Saltaire houses and shops are sold to the Bradford Property Company.
After the resignation and then death of Sir Henry Whitehead and the untimely deaths of Arthur Hill and Ernest H Gates, Salts (Saltaire) Ltd. acquires several other textile companies and gradually becomes very profitable under the management of Robert Whyte Guild and Sir Frank Sanderson.
In 1958, a surprise takeover bid for Salts (Saltaire) Ltd. and its subsidiary companies is made by Illingworth, Morris – a textile ‘giant’ with several textile company holdings. The majority shareholders for Illingworth, Morris are Isidore and Maurice Ostrer whose early circumstances were London’s East End, largely poor Jewish Community. The brothers died within months of each other in 1975.
Pamela Mason sells the 46% holding she controls to Alan Lewis who, after seeing off concerns considered by the Monopolies and Merger’s Commission, takes control of Illingworth, Morris. Alan Lewis does bring the company back into profitability after decisions to reduce the estate, move all remaining productive processes at Salts Mill to other sites and put Salts Mill up for Sale.
1987 to the Present day
Jonathan Silver sees the potential of the Salts Mill building for retail, gallery, restaurant and other facilities and he purchases Salts Mill from Illingworth, Morris. After much visionary refurbishment and care it has become a cultural hub in Saltaire.
For a much more detailed chronology of the changes in ownership and management of Salts Mill, please visit our online shop.