Kirkstall Forge heritage week fun day saw Betty Beecroft mural unveiled

A Heritage week fun day at Kirkstall Forge featured the unveiling of a mural in tribute to the woman who helped put the Forge on the map.

By Mark Lavery
Monday, 20th September 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 20th September 2021, 5:44 pm
The Betty Beecroft mural at Kirkstall Forge
The Betty Beecroft mural at Kirkstall Forge

Horsforth-based artist David Griffin painted the Betty Beecroft mural, which was unveiled at the fun day on Saturday (Sept 18).

Kirkstall Forge has been of industrial importance since the 12th Century, contributing significantly to Leeds' reputation.

With close ties to the Monks at Kirkstall Abbey, it was the longest continually used industrial site in the UK until it closed its doors in 2003.

A colouring in activity at the Kirkstall Forge event

Mrs Beecroft - known as Betty - who, along with husband George, took over the running of Kirkstall Forge in 1778.

They sold metal products including buckets, shovels and screws and saw profits rocket from £172 in 1780 to £952 in 1784.

After six years Mrs Beecroft decided to step down, leaving behind a successful business which went on to become a cornerstone of the early industrialisation of Leeds, supplying the iron used for boiler, engine and machine making.

CEG (Commercial Estates Group) teamed up with Abbey House Museum, the Kirkstall Valley Development Trust and the Kirkstall Forge Life team to organise Saturday's event at Kirkstall Forge.

The fun day at Kirkstall Forge

There was a treasure hunt and children’s entertainment and live music from The Attic.

Archipelago Theatre Collective pop up theatre gave performances about the life of Betty Beecroft

Blood Memory Dance performed 'A Journey Through Time' and traditional blacksmith Fettered Forge demonstrated heritage forging techniques.

Lucinda Yeadon, community liaison manager at CEG, said: “The event was fantastic, a huge thank you to all of our partners who helped make the day such a success.

"Hundreds of people came to enjoy the music and theatre performances and to find out more about the history of Kirkstall Forge.

"Many found details about relatives who had worked at the Forge and we now have a lasting memory of the day, thanks to the Betty Beecroft mural by David Griffin which was unveiled at the site.”

In the next few years the Kirkstall Forge site will be transformed, with high quality offices, new homes and a wealth of complementary facilities, creating a genuine and sustainably led community.

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