THE forlorn-looking gentlemen on this picture - another from a batch recently unearthed in the Craven Herald offices - are surveying the devastation caused by a fire at the Silk Mill, in Sackville Street, Skipton, in 1908.

The mill, originally known as Low Mill, was built in 1839 by John Benson Sidgwick for spinning and weaving yarns, but had become known as Silk Mill after being bought by Rickard’s of Airton, who used it for silk-making, in 1892. The 1908 blaze, which appears to have left just the shell of the building, resulted in the loss of 300 jobs in the town - of immense concern to workers for whom there was little or no formal social security provision.

A new building known as Sackville Mill was erected on the same site, and was later occupied by the Yorkshire Water Authority, before eventually being demolished to make way for housing.

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