IMAGES capturing the final days of the working mill era in Saltaire have gone on display to mark 30 years since a landmark started to be transformed by a businessman.

From Salt to Silver, held in the roof space at Salts Mill from today, will feature work by photographer Ian Beesley and poet Ian McMillan.

Eight new poems by Mr McMillan are accompanied by images from Mr Beesley, which he took of Salts Mill in the 1980s and earlier this year.

It also marked a return to the venue for Mr Beesley, who was commissioned by the then named National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford to document the demise of the textile trade.

He took a number of pictures in the weaving mill at Salts Mill for 18 months from February 1985. But only four of them were ever displayed until this new exhibition.

His mid-1980s images show scenes including a mill spinner in action and a scrapmen dismantling a loom. The photos also capture sites around Saltaire including Albert Terrace, the River Aire, Christmas in 1986 and workshops and maintenance men in Salts Mill.

Mr Beesley was then asked to take new pictures to mark Salts Mill’s 30th anniversary showing the building in its current guise, which were completed in July this year.

The free exhibition features around 70 black and white photographs taken by Mr Beesley, which are displayed on piles of wooden pallets and metal scaffolding throughout the 300-metre-long roof space.

This year is the 30th anniversary of businessman Jonathan Silver buying Salts Mill. Mr Silver died from cancer in 1997, but not before he had transformed the mill into retail and commercial units and an art gallery. This included creating the site’s 1853 gallery devoted to Hockney’s work.

Bradford-born Mr Beesley, now 63, said: “The exhibition is timed to mark the 30th anniversary of Jonathan getting the keys to Salts Mill and opening the 1853 Gallery.

“I was surprised to find that I have over 1,000 negatives of Salts.

“It’s fantastic. This is the first time I have come back to take pictures of something I did from the 1980s, as most of the places I photographed have been demolished.

“The mill is fantastic now. Thirty years on, it has become a world renowned, vibrant venue of industry and commerce. It was the last chance to photograph a proud history in the mid 1980s. The area was steeped in it.

“The exhibition is partly a small tribute to those who worked here when it made cloth, but more importantly a celebration of the development of Salts Mill by Jonathan, his wife Maggie and their family into the world famous hub of modern industry, creativity and enterprise.”

On display alongside the smaller photographs are a number of larger versions of Mr Beesley’s images.

Mr Beesley’s 2017 pictures, which seek to recapture the same locations within Salts Mill where the original pictures were taken, include images of employees at technology firms Arris and Radio Design.

Zoe Silver, of Salts Mill, said it was important for the 2017 version of the site to celebrate the last days of its heritage as a woollen mill, which she adds will be a popular attraction to visitors over the last two months.

She said: “We thought it was important to use the moment before we came and re-opened the mill. It is important to show the mill then and now, because people are still manufacturing now.

“The mill is not a museum, it lives in all senses. The poems are also important in this exhibition, they are beautiful. Ian is a popular and well-liked poet too.

“There will also be a huge impact on people of the huge pictures on display. The photography showing the history of the mill is fantastic.

“It offers something on all levels; there is huge interest in the history of the mill and just fantastic photography. People will be absolutely fascinated by it.”

Meanwhile, Mr Beesley and poet and broadcaster Mr McMillan will also give a sold out talk and book signing on their new exhibition, also in the mill’s roof space, on Sunday, September 10, at 5pm.

The exhibition will be open from 11am to 4pm each day from today until Sunday, September 17, and from then weekends only at the same times, until it closes on Sunday, October 29.