Temple Works, Leeds


Temple Works, Marshall Street, Holbeck, Leeds. Former flax mill and offices built by industrialist John Marshall, 1836-40, in the Egyptian style.

Such a tremendous, ludicrous building. Grade I listed but serving no purpose at present. Hopefully spreading gentrification will eventually embrace it. The details on the front of the office building are impressive:


Lovely capitals:


and fancy – what? cartouches? – below the overhanging cornice:


I should point out that as soon as you go round the side a bit it all becomes plain red brick – this is just a façade.  But what a façade!

The mill itself is less ornate and in worse condition; buddleia is gaining a foothold:


I noticed the derelict building occupying the corner plot next door to Temple Mill and was struck by its restrained brick patterning:


And I took a photo of the Tower Works, a steel pin factory for the textile industry, on my walk back into the centre, as I’ve noticed the Italianate towers (chimneys, actually) from the train a few times. The one on the left is a redbrick version of Giotto’s campanile in Florence – if Giotto had ever thought of designing a dust extraction tower.


Tower Works, Thomas Shaw, 1864-66

I also stepped inside the market hall complex today and was delighted with the interior.  It has been heavily restored, and I hope it continues to bustle as much as today.


Kirkgate market hall, Leeds, this part opened 1904

Very Victorian, even after her death. I thought I may as well compare it with Stuttgart’s ultra-modern Jugendstil market hall, opened in 1914:


Which, visually, brings me back nicely – once again – to my favourite bit of Leeds station from 24 years later:


North concourse, W H Hamlyn, 1938

I do enjoy wandering around like this, looking at buildings and monuments and trying to get a sense of what their builders wanted to “say” about their towns and their lives, trying to decode that mixture of civic pride and individual taste, trying to place them in the context of their time. The two factories above on Marshall Street, for example: divided by 100 years or so, both builders wanted more than just sheds. One opted for something grandiose (and now distinctly Ozymandias) and the other for something contemporary but not dull. I love it.

I don’t mean to imply that the past was all wonderful and uplifting. I probably wouldn’t have cared for it at all! You only have to consider what is no longer there: the rows of slums, the dirty air, the noise, rickets, the long factory hours, stunted bodies and stunted lives, Poulson . . . It’s just that to me these buildings are interesting – particularly in these days of developers’ retail-led schemes, Barratt homes, and the government marking local authorities’ homework on housing allocations for the next 20 years.

I think I shall have to do a turret tour in Leeds next time.

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