Industrial history of Fisherton Mill inspires renamed 'MAIN GALLERY'

PUBLISHED: 17:59 27 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:16 20 February 2013

Ronald Main (William's grandson) in 1955, outside Fisherton Mill with his mother, Dorothy, and some staff members

Ronald Main (William's grandson) in 1955, outside Fisherton Mill with his mother, Dorothy, and some staff members

Salisbury's Fisherton Mill has renamed its popular Beams Gallery exhibition space as the Main Gallery to recognise the mill's heritage as a grain mill built in 1880 for W. Main & Sons Ltd

Salisburys Fisherton Mill has renamed its popular Beams Gallery exhibition space as the Main Gallery to recognise the mills heritage as a grain mill built in 1880 for W. Main & Sons Ltd and to signify that the space, on the first floor overlooking the historic courtyard, is the largest of a number of exhibition sites throughout the building.


The Main family dominate Fisherton Mills history and the building itself is an important part of Salisburys heritage as the only industrial building left in the city centre. William Main chose Fisherton Street as the location for his mill as at the time it was situated directly on the Market House railway siding which ran from the station to the Market House, now the City Library. The mill had several functions which included the bulk cleaning of seed corn and crushing of other grains together with supplying the company's shop in Salisburys market square, today the Portman Building Society, with smaller retail size quantities of animal feed, seeds and fertilisers. These goods were transported by horse and cart; the stables in the courtyard are now Fisherton Mills thriving studios housing independent businesses. W Main & Sons legacy is evident today throughout the building, with the original pillars and beams remaining and on the first floor, in between more artists studios, a large grate marks the spot where grain was once hauled up and down.


As the building was passed down through the Main family, social change made its mark. When William Main died, the business was inherited by his son, Leonard. During Leonards tenure the business was interrupted from 1914 to 1918 when the mill was requisitioned by the War Department as bonded warehousing for the Australian Army. The business flourished from 1920 through to 1950, but when Leonards son, Ronald, took over in the 1960s, mechanisation and great changes to farming methods forced the family to diversify into horticulture and by 1984 the decision was taken to close the business.


During the next ten years the building was predominantly out of use and by the end of 1993 it became obvious that major work was required to save it from dereliction. Leonard Main, together with his brother Michael, both the great grandsons of the original founder, produced a plan to revitalise the building, renovating it for its new role as a gallery, and later the same year opened to great acclaim. Michael and Deborah Fox successfully ran the Gallery Cafe alongside and then, in 2005, bought Fisherton Mill from the Main family and developed it into the popular and thriving business it is today as one of the largest and most significant applied arts galleries in the south of England.


The atmospheric Main Gallery is a dedicated space for the display of three dimensional art and wall art and is, until the end of April, host to an exhibition entitled British Landscapes. The Main Gallery is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10am to 5pm and on Saturdays from 9.30am to 5.30pm and entrance is free. For full details of forthcoming exhibitions, together with all other exciting events being held at Fisherton Mill in 2011, visit www.fishertonmill.co.uk.

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