Are these the toughest cleaning jobs in Leeds?

Spring has officially sprung in Leeds and that means it’s time to get stuck into some much-needed cleaning.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 11:30 am
Are these the toughest cleaning jobs in Leeds? PIC: Leeds Museums and Galleries
Are these the toughest cleaning jobs in Leeds? PIC: Leeds Museums and Galleries

That’s the same for the staff at the city’s museums and galleries, where as well as taking on their regular cleaning, the teams have also been undertaking the mammoth task of sprucing up the sites ready for reopening.

Here we take a look at some of the toughest and most unusual spring cleaning jobs in Leeds


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Specialist cleaner Steve Hartley cleans one the Busts in the Tiled Hall cafe at Leeds Art Gallery. PIC: Simon Hulme

First opened in 1884, the gallery’s beautiful Tiled Hall café but originally it served as the Leeds public library’s reading room.

In order to clean its stunning ceiling, specialist cleaners need to ascend scaffolding and meticulously polish hundreds of mosaic tiles.

Covered in mosaic, the hall’s vaulted ceiling also features original golden bosses, part of the Victorian ventilation system, which still works today. The tiled walls feature portraits of the great writers including Homer, Milton, Burns, Scott, Dante, Macaulay and Goethe.


Conservator Emma Bowron wraps up the bed in Lady Isabella Hertford’s former quarters at Temple Newsam. PIC: Tony Johnson

It may once have been one of nature’s most fearsome predators, but these days Leeds City Museum’s huge Bengal tiger needs some careful TLC.

Taking care of stuffed animals needs careful conservation and monitoring to protect the historic exhibits from potential damage by common pests.

If any bugs are picked up, specimens like the 170 year-old tiger are taken to Leeds Discovery Centre where they’re placed in special deep freeze to kills any parasites and eggs so they can be carefully removed.


John McGoldrick, curator of Industrial History for Leeds Museums and Galleries, looking at De Laval Steam Turbine Engine from Greenwood & Batley Ltd. PIC: James Hardisty

Cleaning the bedroom of an aristocrat once hailed the most beautiful woman in England is certainly no small task.

The careful conservation of Lady Isabella Hertford’s former quarters at Temple Newsam involves wrapping and covering precious objects and heirlooms to keep them safe from dust, light and insects.

The centrepiece of the room is Lady Hertford’s ostentatious bed believed to have been gifted to the former resident by the Prince of Wales at the beginning of the 1800s. The spectacular white and gold bed is lined with finest crimson silk.


Keeping treasured pieces of the city’s industrial heritage in tip top condition falls to the team at Leeds Industrial Museum.

Their collection includes a range of impressive engines and turbines which once powered machines in factories and on production lines across the city.

The museum’s Powerhouse gallery features the mighty Leeds-made De Laval Impulse Steam turbine and a large hydraulic pump made by Berry of Leeds for the Columbia Gramophone Co. who used it for powering a record pressing machine.

Also part of the display is a Hattersley Pickard Fan, once used in the traditional Russian steam rooms at Leeds landmark Bramley Baths.

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Grand and elegant, the drawing room at Lotherton is known for always looking its absolutely best.

Upkeep of the room incudes polishing it’s beautiful floors and taking care of its incredible pair of pianos and stunning Erard harp.

One of a pianos is more than 170 years old and was originally made for the famous Salt family of Saltaire.

The instrument was originally acquired as a piece of furniture before specialists fully restored it to playing condition.

The harp dates from the 1840s Erard instruments were widely considered some of the finest in the world.


The Picture Gallery is one of Temple Newsam’s most eye-catching rooms and its enormous polished floors need a lot of care and attention.

The room also features a suite of floral furniture which is so delicate that it needs to be protected from the sun’s rays which flood into the room.

The collection of chairs and sofas was supplied to Temple Newsam House in 1746, originally as the decorative border of a lavish “indoor garden”.

The historic suite of furniture was commissioned for the picture gallery more than 300 years ago and supplied by James Pascall, a noted guilder, carver and frame maker.

Each of the chairs and sofas, as well as a lavish daybed, is upholstered with a distinctive pattern, which helped them play a key role in the picture gallery’s original indoor garden theme by creating a border of flowers around the room.


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