Commemerative Plaques

With a number of organisations in Leeds keen to tell the story of our engine building heritage, many of the former works sites now have plaques informing passers by of the history of the buildings. Below are details of the plaques that can be found on engine works sites around Leeds, a few works are yet to have such plaques fitted but it is getting so that you could do a guided tour of the sites with the plaques to tell the story.

Hunslet

Many of the local engine building companies were centred on the Hunslet area of the city and the remains of a few works can be seen today. A walking tour of the area can be found here.

Site Location Plaque Texts
Middleton Railway Map No 1, Moor Road, Hunslet

Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque on the front of the Engine House building- "THE MIDDLETON RAILWAY Began nearby in 1758 to carry coal from Middleton Colliery to Leeds by horse-drawn wagon. The world's first commercially successful steam locomotives, designed and built by Matthew Murray and incorporating John Blenkinsop's patent rack wheel, started work here on 24 June 1812."

 

Photo of plaque | More information about Middleton Railway
Hunslet Engine Works Map No 2, Jack Lane, Hunslet

Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque on the surviving works office building- "THE HUNSLET ENGINE COMPANY Was the longest-lived firm in this dynamic area, building over one-third of the 19,000 locomotives produced in Leeds for passenger and freight trains, factories, docks, mines, tunnelling and plantations throughout the world. 1864-1995" 
Photo of plaque | Works History

Midland Engine Works Map No3, Jack Lane, Hunslet

Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque on the surviving pillar of bricks from former works- "MIDLAND ENGINE WORKS J&H McLaren produced steam rollers, traction and ploughing engines on this site until 1938. From 1926 they were Britain's first volume maker of high-speed diesel engines, transfaring to the Airedale Works, Hunslet Road in 1946. Their products were exported worldwide. 1876-1959" 
Photo of plaque | Works History

Steam Plough and Locomotive Works Map No 4, Costco car park, Pearson St

Aluminium plaque on a stone pillar made with stones from the works "On this site stood the Steam Plough Works of John Fowler & Co (Leeds) Ltd Steam and Agricultural Engineers 1861 - 1974" 
Photo of plaque | Works History

Steam Plough and Locomotive Works Map No 4, Costco car park, Pearson St

Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque on the same stone pillar- "JOHN FOWLER The Wiltshire-born Quaker engineer erected his Steam Plough Works here in 1861. Some of its buildings still stand opposite on Leathley Road. He developed the first practial method of mechanical ploughing using a cable system powered by steam engines. This system was exported worldwide. 1826 - 1864" 
Photo of plaque | Works History

Mann's PSC&WCo Map No 5, Pepper Road, Hunslet

Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque on the surviving works office building- "MANN'S PATENT STEAM CART & WAGON COMPANY LTD Steam-powered road vehicles were built here. Previously Mann & Charlesworth Ltd of Dewsbury Road, the company produced unique designs of steam carts, rollers, wagons and tractors. 1899 - 1929" 
Photo of plaque | Works History

Yorkshire PSWCo Map No 6, Pepper Road, Hunslet (behind Mann's)

Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque on the surviving, but somewhat rebuilt, works building "YORKSHIRE PATENT STEAM WAGON COMPANY Steam road wagons featuring Yorkshire's characteristic traverse-mounted boiler were made here from 1902 until 1937. Later part of the Hestair Group, the firm then specialised in diesel-powered tankers, municipal gulley emptiers and road-sweepers. 1900 - 1971" 
Photo of plaque | Works History

Other surviving works buildings without plaques - MW: Manning Wardle, K: Kitson, EBW: E.B.Wilson. Demolished works buildings - HC: Hudswell Clarke, K: Kitson, SUN: Sun Foundry

Leeds City Centre

The local engine making industry began in Holbeck close to textile works along the Hol Beck stream from which the area gets its name.

Site Location Plaque Texts
Round Foundry Map No 10, Water Lane, Holbeck

Brass plaque on wall of works- "Matthew Murray, Born 1765, died 1826, MILLWRIGHT, INVENTOR, PIONEER MECHANICAL ENGINEER, Matthew Murray commenced work with John Marshall of Leeds in 1787 and his many improvements in flax spinning machinery revolutionised the trade. In 1795 he entered work with David Wood and later they were joined by James Fenton and William Lister. Their works the 'Round Foundry' became famous for a high standard of craftsmanship. He was responsible for many important improvements in steam engines including the three-port slide valve. He was a pioneer in the making of machine tools and first introduced the screw feed boring machine. He made the first hydraulic testing machine for loads up to a thousand tons and invented a gauge for such pressures the wide range of his mechanical achievemens justifies the title FATHER OF LEEDS ENGINEERING. Steam locomotives of his design ran on the Blenkinsop rack railway between Leeds and Middleton from 1812 to 1835. The locomotives has two cylinderswith cranks at right angles and they were the first to be successful on any railway" 

Round Foundry Map No 10, Water Lane, Holbeck

Various iron plaques are located around the former works site showing maps of the old works here and providing information about the works 
Works History

Leeds Station Map No 11, Station south entrance

Metal plaque outside Leeds Station south entrance, "Birthplace of Commercial Rail" in the centre and names of key engine makers in the city around the edge. 
Photo of plaque

Smithfield Works Map No 12, North Street, Leeds

Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque on the surviving works office building- "SMITHFIELD IRONWORKS Built as the Smithfield Hotel in the 1860s to serve Leeds Cattle Market opposite, it later became the imposing frontage of Thomas Green & Son Ltd. Green's made steam and motor rollers, traction engines, steam trams, railway locomotives and grass cutting equipment." 
Photo of plaque | Works History

Others around Leeds

Site Location Plaque Texts
Olympia Works, Robert Blackburn Tescos store, Roundhay Road

Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque at the Tescos store on the site of the works "THE OLYMPIA WORKS, Robert Blackburn - aviation pioneer - built aircraft here including over 100 BE2C army and navy biplanes and the famous Kangaroo, Swift and Sopwith Baby planes. He test flew the BE2Cs on Soldiers' Field and frpm there, in 1919, operated passenger flights to London and Amsterdam, 1914 - 1932" 
Photo of plaque | Works History

John Fowler's Place of Death Prospect House, Ackworth

Well out of the Leeds area and not on a former works but worth incluing is this blue plaque on Prospect House in Ackworth marking the place where John Fowler died and briefly describing his achievements. JOHN FOWLER 1826 - 1864, A Wiltshire-born Quaker, who devoted his life to the advancement of agriculture, died here. He developed the first practical method of mechanical cultivation using a cable system powered by steam engines. Founder of the Steam Plough Works in Hunslet, Leeds
Photo of plaque

Check out the Leeds Civic Trust website for more information about its work to "stimulate public interest in and care for the beauty, history and character of the City and locality". If you liked the trail of blue plaques on the former engine works there is a book available detailing all the blue plaques across the city.

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