Textile magnate Solomon Selka was born in Butschowitz, Moravia in 1880. He rose to become a highly prominent member of Bradford’s textile industry by his middle years. He arrived in England when he was just in his early 20′s and began his involvement with wools and worsteds at a Bradford shipping house. Over the next decade he rose to a position of responsibility and trust.
He married on 24 Dec 1912 at Belgrave St Synagogue, Leeds Helen Shipstone Vinter, the daughter of Mr Arthur Vinter, the respected headmaster of Woodhouse Grove School at Apperley Bridge. The couple lived in 1912 at 6 Walmer Place, Manningham, Bradford.
In 1916 he set up his own business, initially acting as a merchant for piece goods. A few years on from this, through hard work, business acumen and enterprise he had vigorously established himself in the home and export trades, soon venturing out for himself in the fields of spinning and manufacturing.
He began to successfully acquire business after business, which would go onto list Henry Briggs and Co. Ltd at of Highgate Mills at Clayton Heights, which still stands today. Also in his capacities were Cranbrook Mills, Norwood Green, and eventually by 1931 he had bought James Drummond and Sons Ltd of Lumb Lane, Manningham, adjacent to the Bowland Street Synagogue.
According to the Bradford newspaper, the Telegraph & Argus of November 6th 1936, the epitome of his long and focussed career was the way he turned Drummond’s as a business around, during the Great Depression of the 1930′s, “His successful rehabilitation of this extensive and old-established business, which during the period of severe depression had fallen into difficulties and was in danger of extinction, was the crowing achievement of of a remarkable career”.
One of the largest worsted spinning plants in Yorkshire Drummond’s directorship under Mr Selka prevented the loss of employment for over 800 people.
He carried on his own textile business, along with the running of Drummond’s, keen to keep both businesses as separate commercial entities, never desiring a merger of the two.
His rise to the top of commerce was even more remarkable than others who had achieved similar endeavours as this was done during the fragilities of the worlds worst economic disaster at the time, ‘The Great Depression’. His reputation shone through as a “just and generous employer according to the Telegraph & Argus, he “understood well how to get the best out of his staff by himself setting an admirable example of industry and efficiency.”.
He was proud of his Jewishness, both culturally and religiously, been one of the earliest advocates of the Zionist movement, along with the Merchant and Mayor Jacob Moser. He was often a great giver to Jewish causes. Not particularly active on the local political scene, he refused ardently to become joined through membership to any particular political party.
Upon his death in 1936 he left behind a widow and five sons; Joseph, Michael, David, Raphael and Max. His funeral was held at Spring Gardens Synagogue and his body was buried at Scholemoor Cemetery in the Birks Fold Orthodox Section.