Matthew Murray’s Beam Engine

On 27th December 2015, along with many nearby homes and business, Leeds Industrial Museum suffered its worst flood since records began. As part of the clearing up process it became increasingly clear that one of the badly affected ground floor storage areas at the Museum held an object with some question marks hanging over its identity. Following…

Quest for Information on a Shoemaker’s Last

    The fairytale ending to my brief time at Abbey House Museum Holly Roberts, work placement student, pictured at Leeds Discovery Centre As a placement student I have had a chance to experience a brilliant range of aspects of heritage and curatorial work. But one thing which has consistently impressed me (and no, despite his…

The Leeds tailors who dressed the 1966 England football team

Football fever has once again taken over the country (or so the media would have us believe anyway). Three of the home nations have been competing in Euro 2016 and next month we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of arguably one of the greatest moments in English football: winning the 1966 World Cup. One of the key…

Treasures of the Leeds Industrial Museum Store

Model Hunslet Engine Company The store at Leeds Industrial Museum is packed with intriguing artefacts. Our Industrial History curators are still investigating many of the stories behind them. Last week, I had a behind the scenes tour with Curator John McGoldrick. Enclosed inside a secure cage, is a huge space filled with shelving, drawers and…

Leeds Gas Riots

  This photograph was taken for Leeds Museums and Galleries and is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA This anonymous drawing is titled the “Leeds Gas Riots” and shows events around New Wortley Railway Bridge, Wellington Road, in July 1890.   This eruption of violence came in the wake of a bitter Gasworkers’ strike…

Leeds, Locomotives and the Swedish Nightingale

The current popularity of all things Scandinavian in our cultural life, from IKEA to ‘Borgen’ and ‘The Bridge’, may seem like a relatively recent trend, but as early as 1848 the people of Leeds were in thrall to one particular Swedish talent.  A news cutting from the Leeds Times of 9th December from our collections…

A Tale of 1,001 Fabrics – the Hepworths Collection

Gentlemen of a certain age (OK, then, over 50) are more than likely to have owned a suit which was made in Leeds, once the capital of the British clothing industry. Leeds boasted many clothing manufacturers, large and small, including the likes of Sumrie, Browns, Berwin & Berwin, John Collier, the Fifty Shilling Tailor, Burtons…

The Memoria exhibition at Armley Mills

Jan delves into the history of Armley Mills I was packing envelopes in the dining area at Armley Mills. The place was empty except for a family sitting 5 tables away, snacking and chatting. “You should tell them.” “Why would anyone be interested? I only lasted half a day. I couldn’t take the noise.” I…

Miss Bradley’s tea set – a tale of factory work and marriage

Trawling through the industrial collection’s accession registers this morning, I have managed to unearth the hidden story behind one of the many unprovenanced decorative Victorian tea services we have in our stores. The story highlights the fact that although women and girls may have formed a good percentage of the workforce in many industrial mills and factories, they…

Make Do and Mend

Or make do on rations In 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, fashion critics were returning from Paris with exclaims that ‘Paris has decreed a new women’ who would be ‘veiled and gloved and corseted’. It seemed that tight-lacing was about to return to the world of fashion, replacing the tubular and…

The Full Monty

Less about taking your clothes off, as actually putting them on! There are various origins of the famous phrase ‘The Full Monty’, but one version is that it came from the ‘demob suits’ given for free to all demobilised servicemen after WWII. These were full three-piece suits (a jacket, waistcoat and trousers) – in comparison…

A tale of two cisterns

My colleagues at Temple Newsam may be rejoicing at the successful purchase of a splendid silver wine cistern once used by Lord Raby. However, in my humble opinion, the cistern acquired yesterday into the Leeds history collections is just as important in its own way. Evidence that Leeds really was a city of “a thousand…