Leeds nostalgia: Woodhouse Moor statue on council’s ‘at risk’ list

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One of the buildings on the Leeds City Council ‘at risk’ register is the Henry Marsden Memorial on Holbeck Moor.

Henry Rowland Marsden (1823-1876) was a philanthropist and Liberal Mayor of Leeds for 1873 to 1875, said to be the most popular Victorian mayor of Leeds.

He was born in Holbeck, Leeds in 1823 of poor parents, and began to work in a local mill at the age of 10, becoming an engineering apprentice at 15.

In 1848 he emigrated to the US where he made a successful career in mechanical engineering and returned a wealthy man to Leeds in 1862, setting up a factory for patent stone-crushing machinery to take advantage of the demand at that time for road building.[3] He received numerous medals and honours for this and other inventions, as well as the continuing wealth to enable him to donate both time and money to public life.

His interest in local affairs led him to the Liberal Party and he was elected as local councillor for Holbeck in 1866, becoming an Alderman in 1872 and Mayor in 1873. He also served as Chief Magistrate for six years.

It was said that “from the beginning he conducted the business of the town and of the council without consideration of sect, party or denomination, acting with strict impartiality and goodwill to all”, and that he donated £2000 per year to good causes.

He died suddenly on 19 January 1876, leaving a widow, Mary, two daughters and a son. He is buried in Holbeck Cemetery in Beeston where his grave is marked by a Grade II-listed memorial.