Permanent tribute to the godfather of Leeds’s textile trade

Leeds Civic Trust unveils its first ever 'People's Plaque' for the great industrialist, Benjamin Gott.  Pictured Richard Gott, the last living male relative of Benjamin Gott, near the blue plaque situated on the front of Benjamin Gott's former home, now the Club House of Gotts Park Golf Club. PICTURES: James Hardisty
Leeds Civic Trust unveils its first ever 'People's Plaque' for the great industrialist, Benjamin Gott. Pictured Richard Gott, the last living male relative of Benjamin Gott, near the blue plaque situated on the front of Benjamin Gott's former home, now the Club House of Gotts Park Golf Club. PICTURES: James Hardisty
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The city’s first ‘People’s Plaque’ has been unveiled thanks to donations from Leeds residents.

A permanent tribute to the industrialist Benjamin Gott now stands at Gotts Park Golf Club near Armley where his house once was following the ceremony on Saturday.

Jane Taylor, chair of Leeds Civic Trust, next to Richard Gott; Sarah West, fourth great-granddaughter; and Philippa West, fifth great-granddaughter

Jane Taylor, chair of Leeds Civic Trust, next to Richard Gott; Sarah West, fourth great-granddaughter; and Philippa West, fifth great-granddaughter

It has been brought about by Leeds Civic Trust which, since it introduced its ‘Blue Plaque’ scheme in 1987 has installed 167 on places of interest, but this is the first specifically for a person.

Martin Hamilton, director of Leeds Civic Trust said: “The People’s Plaque is our idea and we have wanted to do one for Benjamin Gott for some time and he is someone that we thought should have one.

“This is the first one we are doing and we wanted it to be about some-one that we had already chosen.”

However, unlike the Blue Plaques, usually funded by local businesses or sponsors, the Civic Trust had to raise the £850 needed to pay for the plaque and started fundraising on Civic Day last year by asking Leeds residents to donate £1.

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Gott was born on June 24 in 1762 at Calverley and became one of the leading figures in the industrial revolution and the world of textiles.

His factory at Armley Mills, was once the largest factory in the world and is now home to the Armley Mills Industrial Museum. He died in 1840.

It is hoped that other ‘People’s Plaques’ will follow.

Mr Hamilton added: “This is something that we will do again. The nice thing about it is that many of the plaques we put up are the result of people’s emails and suggestions and while me might not do it every year we will do it periodically.

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FROM FIRE RUINS TO WORLD’S BIGGEST WOOL FACTORY...ALL DUE TO ONE MAN

Armley Mills was fire damaged when industrialist Benjamin Gott bought the ruins in 1804.

He ordered the rebuilding, to include cast iron internal frames and fireproofing measures.

When repairs were completed in 1805, it was the largest wool factory in the world.

Gott introduced innovations such as steam power and power looms and made a large fortune, which he reinvested into improving his mills and buying new ones.

He also founded almshouses in Armley, collected fine art, and presided over the founding of the Leeds Philosophical & Literary Society in 1819.

He became Mayor of Leeds in 1799, and died a millionaire.