One of the most interesting facts about Bradford and West Yorkshire life is the number of mills that had a Jewish owner.
In Batley, Bradford, Dewsbury, Elland, Keighley and Saltaire there were Jewish owned mills. This piece isn’t exhaustive but lists some of the main mills and their owners.
Elland, a town which time forgot had the Kagan family. Lord Kagan owned the famous Gannex Mills where he had his textile empire making the famous ‘Gannex Raincoats’ worn by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
In Batley, Lord Kagan owned the landmark building 1 Soothilll and the huge Blakeridge Mills complex. The Stross family owned mills in Batley and Dewsbury, while Gill Stross still runs FabWorks, a yarn suppliers in Dewsbury. His brother is science fiction writer Charlie Stross.
Bradford had the huge Drummonds complex, owned in turn by the Selkas, the Strouds and Stefan Simmonds before passing over to Khalid Pervaiz.
Listers, a huge building dominating the Bradford skyline was the home of public company run by Londoner Justin Kornberg. Listers plc sold Prospect House in the West End of London, one of their buildings for £12million in the 1980s. By 1992 Listers plc closed down. In the year 2000 Urban Splash started the regeneration, which did its first phase, but then the regeneration stalled and at the time of writing (June 2013) it needs to get back on track.
Salts Mill at Saltaire built by Titus Salt passed into the hands of Isidore Ostrer and then his daughter Pamela Mason. After industrial turmoil it was taken over by Illingworth Morris. In the early 1980s manufacturing ceased and the actual company, Salts of Saltaire (but not the mill building itself was acquired by Drummonds).
Jonathan Silver acquired Salts Mill in 1986 and turned the whole complex round.
A half-mile away along the canal is
Victoria Mill, now the Jewel of the North, a superb complex of over 400 apartments. Previously it was owned by the Jerome’s, who had come to Bradford as refugees from Limerick in Ireland. They had been driven out by the anti-Semitism of rabble rouser Father John Creagh who incited the mob to attack and harass the city’s tiny Jewish community in 1904 in an incident known as ‘The Limerick Pogrom’.
In Keighley, Peter Black, a German Jewish refugee was the town’s main manufacturer in the post-war period. He owned a number of Mills, including Airedale Mill in Keighley.
There was also Helmut Mainz of A. Mainz & Son Ltd (later owned by Aire Wool) who owned a small woollen processing mill in Huddersfield. In 1951 he offered to sell it to the father-in -law of Albert Waxman, Mr Sobol. He bought it because he had a vision of converting the machinery to handle synthetic fibres. Mr Waxman was then asked to run it by his father-in-law, and that is how he entered the trade of merchanting and processing synthetic fibres, which became the Elland firm, Waxman Ceramics.
Many other industrial buildings in Little Germany in Bradford and in other areas of the inner city have or had Jewish owners and we would like to hear from anyone who can supply further information.