As a racket player of repute, and with a further reputation for the repair of polo sticks, he decided to set himself up in business. Where better than the home of the Army and mainstay of polo in Britain – Aldershot?
In 1884, 23 High Street, Aldershot had become James Salter’s base and the shop sign still bears the name J. Salter and Sons.
Over twenty years, Salter created a business that became famous throughout the world for high standards and dependability. Leading players would use only Salter equipment and, if repair was required, Salter craftsmen had to be involved.
One reason for Salter’s success was his insistence on only the best materials
for sticks and his experiments with shape, size and weight in order to produce the
ideal stick. Each was hand-
His sixth child, Sydney, born in 1888, worked alongside him. On his father’s retirement, ‘Mr Sydney’ as he was known to staff, took over the reins at 23 High Street and business continued to flourish.
He became renowned throughout the world for high quality polo equipment. All of which was made and repaired on the premises.
As time passed his clientele grew to high ranking military personnel, Dukes, Maharajas, Princes and Kings. He found his equipment being first choice of many of the world’s leading polo players and his polo balls being struck at many an international tournament.
The retail shop was on the ground floor and sold a full range of sporting goods. Above was Salter’s ‘engine room’ – the polo workshop where Sydney could be found at work, repairing and making sticks with his young apprentice, Raymond Turner who joined the company on leaving school.
On the second floor was the paint shop, and above, the attic stored sacks for packing export material. Finally in the basement the crates were made in which Salter polo sticks were sent around the world.
Although retired, James Salter would frequently visit the shop to offer advice and assistance. Remembered by older residents in Aldershot as a kindly man – a keen churchman who lived up to his high ideals and a passionate gardener and philanthropist.
In 1923 he built almshouses for the elderly, ‘in thanks for the blessings received
throughout his life’. The houses are still occupied today – there is a bust of Salter
above the front entrance – and have been described as ‘an antique gem in a modern
setting, an old-
A feature of each almshouse was the drawer of solid oak containing the original Bible and Book of Common Prayer. The drawer is accessible from both the bedroom and drawing room having been constructed in the dividing wall.
James Salter died on April 16, 1931 at the age of eighty-
Under Sydney Salter’s guidance, Raymond Turner developed into as skilled a craftsman as his employer. For many years president of the Aldershot Football Club, Salter did not marry until he was seventy. As a result there were no Salters to continue the business, but Raymond Turner was a natural successor and by 1973 had purchased the freehold of 23 High Street retaining the name above the door.