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  • Rachael Unsworth

Exploring the Cradle of Innovation

Updated: Jun 17, 2019


Explaining what we can see from the balcony of the Skylounge at Doubletree by Hilton, Granary Wharf

When we published ‘Leeds: Cradle of Innovation’ in June 2018, it was blazing hot weather. Not so on the first anniversary – as you see from the clothes and the sky. This is the tour of parts of Holbeck and Hunslet, where so many industrial innovations happened. From the 13th floor of the hotel at Granary Wharf, we can see Matthew Murray’s foundry, John Marshall’s mills and right across to the former loco-building area. Past the Tetley site and Citu’s ‘Climate Innovation District’ is Vickers Oils. Just behind me is Peter Vickers, current head of the firm that started back in the 1820s.


🌍 A picture's worth a thousand words, and maps are especially powerful images. 🌍 Left of frame is an innovator featured in 'Leeds: Cradle of Innovation', Jonathan Straight, who pioneered green recycling bins.

We started by looking at the vividly detailed 1815 map that captured Leeds in the early industrial period. It contrasts so strikingly with the one from only 60 years later: the whole of what we now call South Bank was completely covered with mills, foundries, malthouses, dye works, timber yards and houses – rows and rows of back-to-backs all in amongst the industrial sites. During the walk we really get a feel for the scale of industrial Leeds. And now? Well that’s another story – covered in ‘South Bank reinvented’ and ‘Reflections on the waterfront’.

All the participants were very much engaged with the topics covered during our 3-mile walk and many extra snippets and stories came out, sparked by the sites we passed. I learned loads too.

Picture credits: Steve Carver. Logo by Digitronix.

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