Building with Egyptian facade based on the Temple of Edfu
Temple Works Counting House with Egyptian facade based on the Temple of Edfu. © Historic England
Temple Works Counting House with Egyptian facade based on the Temple of Edfu. © Historic England

£1 Million Funding Boost For Iconic Leeds Landmark Temple Works

Legendary Leeds landmark Temple Works, famous for its striking Egyptian architecture and stories of sheep grazing on the roof, has been awarded more than £1 million in grants from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund and Historic England.

Temple Works, the Grade I listed former flax spinning mill in Holbeck, will undergo major repairs as part of an exciting new chapter in the regeneration of the building and surrounding area.

Money from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund is intended to open up heritage and the benefits it brings to everyone. This injection of funding supports wider repair work on the Temple Works site, with the potential to create a new home for the British Library in the North.

A £636,000 grant from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of the Culture Recovery Fund, will support repairs to the spinning Mill, once claimed to be the largest indoor space in the world.

One of the first large-scale, single-storey factories, the vast brick-vaulted, top-lit spinning mill was constructed between 1838 and 1840 to the designs of the engineer James Coombe.

Here, the Victorian mill owners hoisted sheep onto the roof to graze on grass grown to maintain humidity in the building, reportedly to stop the flax from breaking, creating a spectacle that drew visitors from far and wide.

Money from the Heritage Stimulus Fund will contribute to work to prop up the interior of the mill, on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2008, until permanent repairs can be undertaken.

A further £400,000 award from Historic England will fund rescue work on the neighbouring Counting House building.

Designed to impress, the Counting House provided office space for the owners of John Marshall and Company’s, as well as board members and clerks. Now as then, visitors are greeted by its towering lotus columns and walls decorated with Egyptian motifs and hieroglyphics.

Historic England’s funding will support crucial repairs to the roof and walls, making the building watertight before the next phase of refurbishment.

A recent report commissioned by Historic England revealed there are over 230 vacant and under-used mills in Yorkshire. Breathing new life into mills, like Temple Works, is part of Historic England’s ambition to improve environmental sustainability and unlock the potential of these historic buildings.

Our Culture Recovery Fund is about safeguarding jobs while also making sure our precious heritage is open to everyone and protected for future generations. I'm delighted to announce new funding to restore Leeds' iconic Temple Works which will rejuvenate this fantastic building and kickstart a new chapter in the area's cultural history.

Nigel Huddleston, Heritage Minister

We are thrilled to provide funding from the Culture Recovery Fund and Historic England towards the repair of Temple Works, an instantly recognisable building which was an important part of Leeds’s industrial past and is set to play a key role in its future. It’s exciting to see the possibilities for Temple Works taking shape, highlighting the amazing potential of historic mills in Yorkshire to drive economic and social benefits for the region.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive Historic England

The grants are fantastic news and will help to kick start the much-needed stabilisation works. We are grateful to Historic England and our other partners for recognising the importance of Temple Works as we seek to protect it and create a cultural gem for the city of Leeds.

David Hodgson, Head of Strategic Development CEG

We are delighted that the Culture Recovery Fund and Historic England are providing vital funding to support urgent repairs to the historic Temple Works mill in Leeds. The British Library has major ambitions to expand and enrich our offering to audiences across the north of England and this funding is not only an important step towards securing the future of Temple Works, but also enables us to further explore the potential for the site as a home for the British Library in Leeds.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive British Library

This is a bold and ambitious project which will repurpose an important part of our city’s heritage and help drive wider regeneration in Leeds’s South Bank area and beyond. This new funding is welcome and will enable progress to be made on the plans at Temple Works, including much-needed repair work to the Counting House. This comes after Leeds City Council last year approved the injection of an initial £5 million worth of funding, secured through the West Yorkshire devolution deal, to support urgent works to stabilise the building.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate

About Temple Works

Temple Works is an important part of the story of Leeds’s industrial past and captures its spirit of energy and innovation.

It marked the high point of John Marshall and Company’s flax business in Leeds, where textile production was a huge driver of economic growth, as well as wealth, for the city’s industrial elite.

Based on the Temple of Edfu, its striking Egyptian styling has been attributed to Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi and the artist, David Roberts. It creates a symbolic link between the Yorkshire building and business and the importance of the flax industry in the ancient world.

Over the years Temple Works was occupied by successive textile and clothing companies, including most recently the Kay & Co mail-order catalogue business. It has now been vacant for years.

New public space for the British Library

The repairs to Temple Works mark the start of an exciting new chapter for the building, part of the exciting vision for the site that sees its owner, property company CEG, collaborating with the British Library and Leeds City Council to create a new home for the British Library in the North of England at Temple Works.

This public space would make the library’s collections and services more accessible to communities across the region and be an anchor point for CEG’s wider development plans for Temple, a new district in the city.

The Counting House repairs and refurbishment are projected to be complete in time for Leeds 2023, the city’s Year of Culture.

It will become a hub for the wider British Library project, providing a physical base to showcase plans and keep local communities up to date.