Kirkstall Forge to open doors as part of Leeds Heritage Open Days 2021

The history and heritage of Kirkstall Forge is to be celebrated as part of Leeds Heritage Open Days.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 9:12 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 9:14 am
Kirkstall Forge workers. Year unknown.

Kirkstall Forge was one of the oldest most continuously used industrial sites in England until it closed its doors in 2003.

Its history can be traced back to 12th century mill race which helped power a corn mill for the monks of Kirkstall Abbey. Iron production began in the 16th century, making it the oldest forge in England. During the Second World War, production expanded to meet the demand for military vehicles, and the site was camouflaged to reduce the risk of bombing raids.

There are currently plans to build more than 1,000 homes and 300,000 sq ft of commercial office space on the 56-acre plot.

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Kirkstall Forge workers. Year unknown.

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Memories of the Leeds landmark which powered a city

Developers CEG and partners have organised a series of free events at the site as part of Leeds Heritage Open Days which runs from Friday, September 10, until Sunday, September 19.

Abbey House Museum is supporting the line-up of activities and are seeking memories depicting life in Kirkstall.

A display of artefacts from the museum, alongside items loaned by the Butler family who previously owned the Forge, will also be available to view at Kirkstall Forge’s Heritage Open Day on Saturday, September from 10am.

The crane at Kirkstall Forge.

Pat Bourne, assistant community curator of Abbey House Museum said: “I would like to hear about your personal recollections, photographs and objects depicting growing up, working and living in Kirkstall, past or present. The plan is to feature many of these at the ‘Kirkstall Lives’ exhibition at Abbey House Museum next year.

“A memory booth will be open at Kirkstall Forge where you can be recorded or just have a chat and share your local recollections from 10am on Saturday, September 18. We will also have lots of exciting artefacts from Abbey House Museum on display at Kirkstall Forge during the Open Day.”

Over the course of the week, CEG is organising a variety of activities, including:

* Fettered Forge, a traditional blacksmith demonstrating heritage forging techniques,

Hardisty’s fish and chip shop in Kirkstall circa 1920s. PIC:Leeds Museums and Galleries

* Heritage talks, exploring the history and future of this unique site,

* Live music from Music from the Attic.

* Archipelago Theatre Collective will be previewing excerpts from their new theatre production, Mother of the Revolution, based on the life of Betty Beecroft,

* Blood Memory Dance will be staging a special performance of A Journey Through Time,

* There will be fun activities for children of all ages, including a treasure hunt, organised by the Kirkstall Life Team and Kirkstall Valley Development Trust,

* Hookers and clickers will be knitting poppies for charity and sharing their crafting skills,

Lucinda Yeadon, community liaison manager at developer CEG, said: “Because Kirkstall Forge had such an important role to play in the industrial revolution in Leeds and was so influential to its surrounding communities we are keen to share its exciting history.

“It is fantastic to work with some many artists and local community partners and open our doors to free exhibitions, events, music and theatre performances and talks throughout Heritage Week, with lots of the events happening outdoors too. We look forward to welcoming visitors keen to better understand the site and area or to sample Butlers’ café bar’s themed menus!”

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education at Leeds City Council, said: “It’s fantastic to see the diverse range of events on offer across the city as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days and I am delighted that Abbey House Museum is partnering with Kirkstall Forge on September 18.

"It will be a great opportunity to celebrate and learn more about the industrial heritage of the area, while sharing our own memories so they have the opportunity to feature in next year’s Abbey House Museum exhibition.”

For more details on the activities planned at Kirkstall Forge visit: .


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