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What Will Happen To Temple Works?
If you know your way around Leeds you’re sure to have spotted the beautiful façade of Temple Works, a Grade I-listed flax mill in the city that has a factory floor spanning an impressive two acres… and which was once the biggest room in the entire world!
But although the building began life auspiciously, it seems as though its fortunes have reversed somewhat, with the Guardian reporting that the owners of the building have left it to its own devices for more than ten years and have now put it up for auction for just a single pound.
The Barclay family – which owns the Telegraph media group – have owned the building since 2004 but it was listed as one of the top ten most endangered buildings by the Victorian Society six years ago. It has been in a sorry state since it partially collapsed back in 2008 and it’s due to go under the hammer on December 7th after Burberry backed out on plans to use it as a factory/showroom.
It was once described as a “stately home for a pharaoh” by the Yorkshire Post, having been modelled on the Temple of Horus at Edfu when it was built in 1836. Historic England notes that it represents the peak of the Marshall Mills flax business in the city and in just a few years after construction it earned itself a legendary reputation.
Whoever ends up buying the site will have to do an awful lot of refurbishment work and a lot of repairs. The masonry roof is apparently only being held up by rotting hollow pipes so there is much to be done to bring it back to life.
Director of Leeds Civic Trust Martin Hamilton told the news source: “There is now a real risk that a naive investor will purchase the building without the resources to spend on refurbishment – possibly upwards of £20 million, leading to more years of neglect, planning and legal wrangles and quite possibly the final nail in the coffin for this building.
“We would appeal to the owners to withdraw the building from the auction and to work with Leeds city council and other interested parties to identify a buyer with the necessary resources to turn the building round, and a use that would be a focus for the wider regeneration of this part of Leeds city centre.”
Until last year, the building was used as a cultural hub, with those involved carrying out a massive archival, heritage and education project for free and without any funding in place, making money from location hire and the bar. Despite these challenges, over the last few years Temple.Works.Leeds attracted more than 100,000 visitors of all ages and backgrounds so it’s sad to hear that the building may well never be revitalised and brought back to its former glory.
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