WATCH: New memorial at flood-hit Leeds museum typifies city’s defiant spirit

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A commemorative plaque has been unveiled at Leeds Industrial Museum in recognition of the site’s inspiring recovery from the record Boxing Day floods.

The devastating December flooding forced the museum, which was once the world’s largest woollen mill, to close for almost three months while staff and council officers all pitched in for a massive clean-up operation.

A commemorative plaque was unveiled at Leeds Industrial Museum in recognition of the sites inspiring recovery from the record Boxing Day floods. Pictured is leader of Leeds City Council Coun Judith Blake.
13th May 2016.
Pictures : Jonathan Gawthorpe

A commemorative plaque was unveiled at Leeds Industrial Museum in recognition of the sites inspiring recovery from the record Boxing Day floods. Pictured is leader of Leeds City Council Coun Judith Blake. 13th May 2016. Pictures : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Now, after a successful re-opening, a plaque, designed, made and donated by I.D. Howitt Ltd, has been placed on the outside of the building at the exact height the flood waters reached.

The plaque was unveiled earlier today by councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, during a ceremony to coincide with the beginning of National Mills Weekend, which runs on May 14 and 15.

Councillor Blake said: “The way that Leeds Industrial Museum has been able to bounce back from the impact of December’s flooding typifies the spirit and determination that the whole city showed during one of the most challenging times in recent memory.

“It’s fitting that the floods, which had such a devastating effect on so many people, families, homes and businesses across Leeds, will be commemorated at a site that has been such an important part of our history and heritage for hundreds of years.”

The teams from Armley Mills and Thwaite Mills museums.

The teams from Armley Mills and Thwaite Mills museums.

December’s flooding saw parts of Armley’s historic former mill submerged under eight feet of water.

The flood waters reached levels three times higher than previous catastrophic flooding in 1866, an event which is also commemorated with a plaque at the site.

The unveiling of the new plaque yesterday kicked National Mills Weekend, which will see activities taking place at Leeds Industrial Museum and Stourton’s Thwaite Mills.

Thwaite Mills was also hit by December’s floods when the nearby river burst into the Aire and Calder Navigation close to the site.

Three-year-old Michael Walker from Moortown looks up at the plaque at Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley, placed at the water level of the 2015 disaster. Below it is a plaque remembering the 1866 flood at the museum.

Three-year-old Michael Walker from Moortown looks up at the plaque at Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley, placed at the water level of the 2015 disaster. Below it is a plaque remembering the 1866 flood at the museum.

The flooding caused extensive damage to Thwaite Mills and the rest of the island on which it sits and firefighters were also called to help secure canal boats on the nearby Thwaite moorings.

On Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 5pm, visitors will have the chance to explore both sites and learn more about this year’s National Mills Weekend theme, which is vintage power.

And for this weekend only, tickets for Leeds Industrial Museum can also be used for entry to Thwaite Mills, which is one of one of the last remaining examples of a water-powered mill in Britain.

Anyone wanting to attend Friday’s ceremony at Armley should rsvp to armley.mills@leeds.gov.uk

For more information about National Mills Weekend, visit: leeds.gov.uk/Nationalmillsweekend

8 March 2016 .......       Environment Agency flood recovery team members by the new flood defences along the river in Dock Street. Kate Bullock, project co-ordinator for Leeds City Council, Anthony Myatt, project advisor for the Enviroment Agency and Andy Vipas BMMJV city centre project manager. Picture Tony Johnson

Work on Leeds flood defence masterplan part two could start next summer