Industrial History


The industrial collections have been Designated as of national and international significance. The collections represent the industries of Leeds through the companies, products and personalities involved.  The collections also aim to reflect the working life of Leeds people through their jobs and working environments.
19th century Leeds was sometimes described as the “City of 1000 Trades” and the collections reflect the diversity of different industries which flourished in the area.

The most significant collecting areas are:

- Textile machinery
- The Leeds printing industry
- Engineering, including locomotive and railway collections of international significance.

The museum holds material from John Fowler & Co., Vickers PLC, A. Kershaw & Sons, Benjamin Gott, Burtons, Kirkstall Forge and the Hunslet Engine Co. and a wealth of other firms.

The collections comprise tools, machinery, industrial products, archive ephemera, photographs and other personal records, but do not include substantial company archives.

The aim over the next five years is to get as much of the collection accessible and working as possible, rather than adding significantly to our holdings. This will include improvements in storage and documentation of the stored collections and a programme of conservation and cleaning of objects for display.  The collection also needs further research and evaluation to assess the importance and relevance of the stored collections to the Leeds industrial story. Where appropriate the museum will work in partnership with other organisations and volunteer groups to achieve this.  Contact us if you would like to help.

Priority areas include:

• Getting the looms, wheel and finishing machines operating
• Restoration of significant locomotives
• Mining displays
• Textiles
• Optics
• Improving the storage of engineering plans and drawings

We will continue to collect Leeds-related industrial material to reflect the “City of 1000 Trades”, including building up contemporary collections to reflect modern industry and manufacturing in the area in partnership with Leeds firms.