Bunhill: Lottery adds grist t'mill

Click to follow
The Independent Online
HEAVEN knows what Sir Titus Salt would have made of it. The inheritors of his magnificent mill at Saltaire, Yorkshire, want to turn it into the headquarters of the national lottery. Salt, a Victorian philanthropist and businessman, built the mill and the surrounding town for his workforce in 1851. A strict non- conformist, he would doubtless have been appalled at his life's work being used for gambling.

The mill already houses a permanent exhibition of works by nearby Bradford's favourite son, David Hockney, not to mention a couple of high-tech companies. But one-third of the million square feet - they built their mills big in those days - remains unoccupied.

Competition for the location of the lottery is going to be fierce. Liverpudlians think it is theirs by right because the pools companies are based on Merseyside.

NM Rothschild, one of the bidders for the franchise, favours Manchester or possibly Milton Keynes. And Sebastian Coe has been sprinting about the House of Commons plugging the merits of Cornwall.

Three Bradfordians are behind the Saltaire push: Richard Whiteley, presenter of Yorkshire TV's Calendar and Countdown; Roger Suddards, former senior partner of the law firm Hammond Suddards; and Jonathan Silver, t'actual owner of t'mill. They are backed by Sir Marcus Fox, chairman of the 1922 committee, and the former Chancellor, Lord Healey.

Whiteley admits Titus was puritanical and might have disapproved. 'But he would have appreciated the enterprise spirit of our campaign,' he says. 'And I bet he took a few gambles with his business.'

The plan would be to televise the lottery draw live from Saltaire every Saturday. 'It will give a face to the lottery,' says Whiteley. 'Who knows that Ernie is based in St Annes?'

(Photographs omitted)