Salts Mill quite frankly, has more credentials than most. Set in World Heritage site Saltaire, West Yorkshire, this Grade II listed building possibly needs no introduction. Whilst I could dive into the history that makes this place remarkable, it’s possibly of greater interest to answer the bottom line ‘why would I go?’.
Until about six years ago (we have since moved further away), we would frequent Salts Mill fairly regularly; the reason for which ultimately can probably be reduced to one word,
S P A C E.
It’s clear from the exterior that this is a huge building. A mill in its past life, now predominantly known as the place showcasing Hockney (rather famous artist); whilst the Galleries are a pull for the tourists, it is more the lifestyle facilities which had us returning every few weeks owing to their setting inside so much space.
A bike shop, diner, HOME store, coffee shop, books and many other independent retailers offer something for everyone.
Salts Mill is a place you can spend half a day indoors. For anyone with family or friends wanting to go somewhere for a ‘nice afternoon out’ (very English saying) and owing to not especially being able to rely on the weather – it’s a great place to explore and is exactly the reason we’d go many a Sunday afternoon.
There’s an extensive book shop you can roam freely with your prams and Gram’s whilst not feeling short on space, (I think there’s very few places you can do that). This book shop is the kind you’d pick up a book to buy even if you don’t read – there’s quite literally something for everyone.
They clearly have a great buying team, we’ve purchased many over the years. I have fond memories of our little Lady wandering amongst the shelves and sitting at these very tables and chairs pretending to read.
The diner, again, has oodles of space – it was quiet when I visited early in the morning last week and didn’t stop for food, but have visited on days where almost every table is taken. Regardless, there is always a pleasant vibe with great service and food.
For those wanting to learn more about its history, there’s evidence and artefacts of its former life seen on many of the walls.
Salts Mill houses one of the largest collections in the world of David Hockney art. I’ll admit, whenever we’ve been in the past I’ve never been particularly ‘into’ his pictures that are everywhere, however, a new addition to my previous visits is the Gallery on the top floor. It had me at the sign below.
In a few words Hockney and, therefore, Salts Mill are talking our children’s language. Forty-nine ink-jet prints adorn the walls all created within a six month period. Though you are allowed to take photos, I was told no full images can be shown on the blog so for that purpose have edited them. It is quiet remarkable the sheer volume this man has and is producing and more importantly, how he’s evolving with the current times as an individual. My daughter visited with school last year and said they loved the top floor gallery.
Finally, perhaps my favourite space is the lower floor 1853 gallery. It is simply a beau-tiful room. Brick ceiling, huge vases (Burmantofts pottery) and thoughtfully displayed books, journals, cards and art supplies are a most pleasant shopping experience.
It is quite unthinkable that this building would have faced dereliction after its closure (1980’s) were it not for the insight of a local entrepreneur who saw opportunity in the premises! This cultural landmark has not only been preserved to showcase the past, but to point towards the future. It is not a museum, it does not require YOU to fit IT, rather it invites people of all ages to come just as they are. In return, sends each away with their own unique experience thanks to that forward-thinking business man Jonathan Silver.