Floods misery continues as Leeds museums are closed ‘until further notice’

The scene of devastation at Leeds Industrial Museum on Boxing Day.
The scene of devastation at Leeds Industrial Museum on Boxing Day.
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Two much-loved Leeds museums have been forced to close their doors to visitors as the fallout from the Christmas floods continues.

Armley’s Leeds Industrial Museum and Stourton’s Thwaite Mills will be shut “until further notice”, Leeds City Council said today.

It’s obviously been a very difficult time for everyone, but it’s been fantastic to see everyone pulling together.

Water levels rose to around eight feet at Leeds Industrial Museum – triple the previous all-time high, recorded in 1866.

The ground floor of the museum is covered in up to a foot of silt while fences, windows and doors were also damaged.

Thwaite Mills, which sits next to the River Aire and is one of the last remaining examples in Britain of a water-powered mill, also suffered extensive damage.

Conditions were so bad that six canal boats moored at the museum were swept away.

Sarah Barton, keeper at both sites, said: “It’s obviously been a very difficult time for everyone, but it’s been fantastic to see everyone pulling together and working so hard to help each other out.

“We are starting to clear up with lots of help from colleagues across the council and volunteers but we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in the clean-up effort and we will certainly be unveiling a new flood plaque at Armley Mills and inviting all those who have helped to a thank you event once we are fully reopened.

“Both sites will be closed for a couple of weeks at least but any schools or pre-booked groups will be informed if they are affected.

“We are working hard to reopen both sites and we hope everyone will come and pay us a visit when we’re back up and running.”

Both museums are currently experiencing phone and IT issues due to the flooding.

People who need to contact either site are asked to ring 0113 378 2983 and leave a message.

Council leader Coun Judith Blake said: “What has happened at these two historic buildings is yet another example of both the terrible impact of this flooding and the incredible fortitude and togetherness the people of Leeds have shown.

“Whilst it was horrifying to watch the events unfold and to see the number of homes and businesses affected, the response within our local communities in the aftermath has been nothing short of inspiring.

“As we all pull together to help the city get back on its feet, that unity and community spirit will be absolutely vital and I would like to once again personally thank council staff, their families and everyone who went the extra mile over Christmas and who continues to play their part in the clean-up effort.”

Areas of Leeds that were hit hard by Boxing Day’s floods included Kirkstall and Stourton as well as parts of the city centre along the River Aire.

About 1,000 homes in the city were affected along with an as-yet-unconfirmed number of businesses.

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