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.
All | Hunslet | Leeds City Centre | Other locations near to the city
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.
|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 cylinders with 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
|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.
|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."
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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Page last modified: 20 June 2021
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