The history of Leeds: What every geek should know – part 2

Spinning! I work in Marshall’s Mill, which was a flax spinning mill. John Marshall employed Matthew Murray, who didn’t have much education, but did have a knack for fixing and improving machines. Murray was so much in demand that he set up on his own.

Murray built the Round Foundry. It was one of the world’s first engineering works. No one knows why it was round, but the fact that later ones weren’t suggests Murray was experimenting with the form, and round didn’t work so well after all.

Murray built the engine for the world’s first commercial steam railway at Middleton Colliery in South Leeds. Murray’s rival was James Watt of Birmingham, who even bought land next to the Round Foundry to stop Murray expanding his business.

Back to our flax spinner John Marshall. He built Temple Works, a huge single storey factory modelled on the Egyptian Temple of Horus at Edfu. This is an aerial view showing the circular roof lights. When it was built it was the biggest room in he world.

Unfortunately, the roof currently looks like this, because Temple Works has been neglected, and few months ago, part of the roof and Egyptian façade collapsed. This makes me very angry. We should look after our industrial heritage.

back to part 1   onward to part 3 >

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