Temple Works - Future of architectural Leeds icon to go under spotlight

It's the architectural treasure which has proved a source of intrigue and fascination to the people of Leeds for generations.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 11:30 am
Temple Works. PIC:Tony Johnson
Temple Works. PIC:Tony Johnson

Temple Works was commissioned by flax magnate John Marshall, in a distinctive Egyptian style including 60 roof lights and a grassed roof complete with grazing sheep. It was said to be the largest room in the world at the time - pushing the boundaries of engineering and design and has been a landmark building in Holbeck since its construction in 1836.

Since its closure as a mill, Temple Works has boasted a chequered history with the building featuring on Historic England's 'at risk' register for a number of years.

It was latterly used as a warehouse for Kays Catalogue, mooted as a showroom for Burberry, before being purchased by Commercial Estates Group (CEG) at the end of 2017. Since then, work has been done to stabilise the building.

Inside Temple Works. PIC: James Hardisty

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Last year the Government announced a £25 million grant to investigate the possibility of the British Library creating a new space in Leeds city centre.

The future of this Grade 1 listed icon is now set to go under the spotlight as part of an online presentation and discussion organised by Leeds Civic Trust.

Director of Leeds Civic Trust, Martin Hamilton, said: “Since it was constructed in 1836 , Temple Works has been a source of intrigue and fascination to the people of Leeds. From its unique Egyptian frontage to grass and sheep on the roof, all of these elements make this Grade 1 listed building unique.”

He continued “The structural and engineering challenges posed by this building are huge and bringing it back into use is not at all straightforward, but the potential for the British Library to become the occupiers of the building is one that excites us. This is why we have organised this event so that the people of Leeds can find out about this exciting proposal"

Jamie Andrews, British Library’s Head of Culture and Learning, said: “The British Library has had a major site at Boston Spa near Leeds since 1961, employing 600 people. In the past few years we’ve been developing our business, research, culture and learning offer for audiences across Leeds, working with entrepreneurs, schools, families and programming large-scale public events."

He added: "We’re currently exploring the possibilities for a British Library presence in Leeds city centre, and Temple Works is the kind of iconic location that really captures people’s imaginations.”

David Hodgson is head of strategic development at Commercial Estates Group (CEG) who own the building.

He said: “We have been working hard to stabilise and better understand the history, condition, challenges and opportunities Temple Works offers. In the coming months, we are planning a multimillion-pound package of works to continue to protect this building as part of the first phases of its refurbishment. We are working closely with Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Historic England and other stakeholders to deliver this.

“We look forward to the Leeds Civic Trust event where we will share more about the work we are doing to deliver a shared long-term sustainable solution for this iconic building.”

* Temple Works: The Future of an Icon Tickets is being held on Thursday, March 11, 2021, at 7pm. For more information and to register your interest CLICK HERE.


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