Flood-hit Leeds museum ready to reopen

Betty Wilson pictured at the Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. Picture by James Hardisty.
Betty Wilson pictured at the Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. Picture by James Hardisty.
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A historic Leeds museum that was left devastated by the Boxing Day floods will reopen to the public next Tuesday. (March 22)

Parts of Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills were submerged under eight feet of water in December, causing extensive damage to the ground floor, picnic area, fences, windows and doors.

Steam Punk Market at Leeds Industrial Museum. Picture by James Hardisty.

Steam Punk Market at Leeds Industrial Museum. Picture by James Hardisty.

The museum was forced to close but a mammoth clean-up effort at what was once the world’s largest woollen mill has left it ready to reopen.

Sarah Barton, keeper at Leeds Industrial Museum, said: “We’re very excited to be welcoming visitors back to the museum and we’ve really missed being open to the public.

“It was heartbreaking to see the site flooded and to have to close, so it’s obviously been a tough couple of months for everyone who knows and loves the museum.

“But we’ve also been genuinely touched and humbled by the support we’ve had and it’s really helped motivate us to get back up and running, so we’d like to once again say thank you to everyone who has pitched in.”

A host of Easter activities are planned at the site including crafts, cinema and creative writing, while the Armley Mills a Colourful Past exhibition has been extended until July 31.

The first recorded mention of Armley Mills was in the middle of the 16th Century, when local clothier Richard Booth leased ‘Armley Millnes’ from Henry Saville.

By 1788, when it was purchased by Colonel Thomas Lloyd, a prosperous Leeds cloth merchant, it had grown into the largest woollen mill in the world.

It continued to operate commercially until the 1970s, when it finally closed as a business. The site was bought by Leeds City Council, reopening in 1982 as Leeds Industrial Museum.

Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “It was a devastating blow to see the damage caused by flooding at Leeds Industrial Museum, a place that has been such an integral part of the city’s industrial heritage for centuries.

“But in typical Leeds style, staff rolled up their sleeves straight away and have worked tirelessly over the weeks and months to get the site back up and running.

“It’s a response that really typifies the way the city has reacted to the floods- with unity, resilience and community spirit.”

Thwaite Mills, in Stourton, which was also closed by the floods, also recently reopened.

Visit leeds.gov.uk/armleymills for information.

Cori Braham.

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