What Does The Future Hold For Temple Works?

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Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E. info@burflex.co.uk

What Does The Future Hold For Temple Works?

What Does The Future Hold For Temple Works?

Temple Works, the beautiful Grade I-listed building in Leeds, has a very interesting history behind it – and, hopefully, a very interesting future ahead of it, as well.

Built by John Marshall between 1838 and 1840, it originally served as a flax mill in Holbeck. It was designed by Joseph Bonomi, based on the Temple of Horus at Edfu in Egypt. Mr Marshall was very involved with the Leeds Philosophical Society, which had recently acquired an Egyptian mummy – and his inspiration for the design of the building was based on his interest in Egyptology.

Originally, the building featured a chimney that had been designed in the style of an obelisk but after this cracked, it was replaced by a conventional Victorian stack. The ceiling was held up by cast iron columns, which also served as drain pipes, while the ceiling had 67  large skylights to maximise the amount of natural light that came flooding into the space.

The roof was insulated with a layer of plaster covered with pitch to make sure that the humidity was right for spinning flax. Earth was then layered on top to stop the pitch from cracking, with grass seeded in to hold the earth together.

This grass was kept in good condition by a flock of sheep that lived on the roof! And, fun fact, when the structure was first built, it was believed to be the largest single room in the world.

John Marshall was, at one point in the 1800s, the biggest flax producer in England, employing thousands of people. But the industry collapsed in the late 1800s because of competition from overseas and production at the site ground to a halt in 1886, with the company relocating to the US.

Looking to the present, the building has fallen into dilapidation but respite could soon be on the horizon thanks to British Library North and £25 million in central funding that the local council hopes to use to transform Temple Works into a learning hub.

According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, exploratory work has been ongoing at the site over the last 12 months to improve safety and security.

Judith Blake, Leeds City Council leader, welcomed the development, saying how wonderful it would be to have the British Library based at Temple Works, going on to add that the planned HS2 station and the existing one would also open up the site to the rest of the UK and bring even more people to Leeds.

“We will continue to work extremely hard with the owners of Temple Works, the CEG Group, and the British Library to both investigate the potential of this incredible building and achieve the extra funding needed for this exciting new scheme to be realised,” she went on to say.

We’ll certainly be keeping our ears to the ground for more news on this particular development and hope that Temple Works will be back in the land of the living very soon.

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