Local History


The Kirkstall Valley was an important cradle for industrial development in Leeds. An ingenious water power system was constructed below Kirkstall Abbey between 1760 and 1860, much of which survives today. Many of the remaining buildings have been listed, but an important omission is St Ann's Mills, which is currently under threat from development. St Ann’s Mills was originally acquired by the council around 1970 to provide public open space for a proposed riverside park. The recent history of this site is described in separate pages on the Kirkstall Mills. Despite promising to "restore these buildings to their former glory" in 2006, there is an ever-present risk that the council will dispose of this land to the highest bidder without any restrictions as to its future use.

We applied to English Heritage for several of these buildings listed, or alternatively scheduled as Ancient Monuments. Our listing application number is 166929, and the local case officer is Ms Stella Jackson, English Heritage, 37 Tanner Row, York YO1 6WP telephone: 01904 601893, email: stella.jackson@english-heritage.org.uk

We would be grateful for help with this project from local historians, and also if people could write in support. Click here to download a printable (PDF) version of these pages (1.9MB). Constructive feedback would be much appreciated.

There is no dispute about the historical importance of the site. The problem is that the council's asset management division has not maintained the buildings, and has permitted so much damage over the last 35 years that what remains may be considered "not worth saving". The council has behaved like many other greedy property developers and allowed its historic assets to deteriorate to the point where it can pretend that there is "no alternative" but to knock them down and rebuild.

The buildings that merit preservation are (a) 18th century bridge over the Abbey mill goit, (b) main weir and side weir (probably 18th century) (c) derelict 18th century mill and pumping engine, (d) unit 6 (about 1834) and (e) unit 1 (about 1850). The unit coloured green on the plan appears on the earliest detailed maps and may also have a long history. It is currently occupied by a car repair business and is not in the council's ownership. Sadly the weaving sheds to the west of the building have already been demolished by the council, which has also been responsible for the destruction of all the other weaving sheds in the Kirkstall area.

Despite the many fine words from Leeds City Council about "restoring these buildings to their former glory" we are concerned that the council or a future private owner might clear the site to minimise their domestic rating liability. This could happen before there has been adequate opportunity to investigate these buildings and fit them into their local and national context. We need help from volunteers with historical research, and particularly need assistance with local genealogy. (See "future research" below.) We have discovered a great amount about St Ann’s Mills in the last few months, but these inquiries are still in progress. The position is changing steadily as explained below.

Although not directly relevant to their historic or architectural interest, it should be noted that these riverside buildings are in the highest risk flood plain, that the mills are an established resting place for otters, and are therefore protected under the EC Environment Directive, and that there are high voltage electricity cables above the site. These factors suggest that the land is unlikely to be worth anything like the value that the council has placed upon it. The area has enormous recreational potential for walking, cycling and canoeing, and is a recognised location for birdwatching and similar wildlife pursuits. There is an economically viable community development plan for St Ann's Mills which does not envisage demolition.

The listing (or scheduling) of these buildings and archaeological remains should be in the context of the complete water power system between Kirkstall Abbey and Armley Mills. It should also reflect 250 years of industrial development and the social history of Kirkstall which can be traced in parallel with the built environment.

Millpond at St Ann's Mills

18th century road bridge

Side weir at St Ann's Mills

St Ann's Mill Weirs

None of the structures at St Ann's Mills are currently listed, although many other buildings in the Kirkstall Valley have been protected in this way. This may be because the main weir at St Ann's Mill is not marked on the 1851 Ordnance Survey map, leading perhaps to the erroneous conclusion that both the weirs and their associated features are relatively modern developments.

In fact, many other local weirs were omitted from the 1851 OS map, including Burley Mill weir, which is already listed (27/931) and is of proven antiquity. St Ann's Mill weir is plainly marked in its current location on maps published in 1811, 1822, 1831, 1834 (twice), 1846 and 1892. All of these maps can be downloaded from the table below.

The north eastern revetments of the weir include the foundations of a very early steam pumping engine (see below) that was used to drive the water wheel, supplementing the action of the river. Such survivals are rare. There is an old flood bund on the river island, now overgrown with mature trees, which is clearly linked to the south western weir revetments. This bund is marked on the 1892 Ordnance Survey map and is also shown on Taylor's 1811 map of Bramley. This bund makes no sense unless the weir is also present, leading to the conclusion that the entire group dates from the first decade of the 19th century, or possibly even earlier.

St Ann's Mill weir is a beautiful historic structure set in a fine location, which has survived largely intact. It pre-dates many of the other listed buildings in the Kirkstall Valley. It is the key to the entire water power network below Kirkstall Abbey, which could not operate properly without this feature. The arguments for listing (or scheduling) St Ann's Mill weir are irresistible.

Our present guess is that the council will struggle to sell these assets at the present time, and we hope that it will not demolish any additional buildings while a listing / scheduling application is being processed. Providing this situation continues, we would be content to wait for a decision on the listing application until we have completed more of the historical research.

Historical context

Development of inner north west Leeds over the last 400 years is bound up with the history of the Brudenell and Savile families, who were major landowners. The Saviles were granted land around Kirkstall Abbey by Elizabeth I. They also held considerable areas elsewhere in Yorkshire and played a major part in the development of Leeds. Sir John Savile, Knight, was a royal courtier who became the first Leeds Alderman in 1626. The Brudenells were based at Deene Park in Northamptonshire, and became the Earls of Cardigan after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. These two families were united in 1668 by the marriage of Francis Brudenell and Frances Savile. This marriage brought the Savile lands in Yorkshire within the orbit of the Earls of Cardigan.

Although both families owned considerable areas, both were seriously in debt. Their land was extensively leased or mortgaged, often on complex and convoluted terms. The constant need to service debts and increase yields were one of the driving forces behind industrial development. Sub-letting broke up the great estates and made land accessible to people of lesser means. The intricate legal agreements later become a barrier to further development, since it was no longer clear who owned the land. In 1835 a private Act of Parliament was necessary to resolve these issues.

Development of St Ann's Mill probably started around 1760 when the Vicar of Headingley (Rev. John Moore) leased about 500 acres in Burley and Kirkstall from the Earl of Cardigan. We do not fully understand how the money was raised to finance this venture, and it is possible that the mill was founded as early as 1720. St Ann's seems to have operated initially as a "traditional" scribbling and fulling mill, two easily mechanised processes that could not conveniently be done at home under the domestic system of cloth manufacture.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Gott was developing his partnership with Wormald & Fountaine. Gott was apprenticed to this firm of woollen merchants in 1780, but by 1790 the business had largely passed to him. He was working in partnership with Wormald's eldest son, Harry, who was roughly the same age. In 1792 they embarked on woollen manufacturing and erected their first factory at Bean Ing, now the site of the Yorkshire Post building.

James Graham married the Vicar of Headlingley's daughter, Anne, in 1781 and gradually developed their large estate in Kirkstall. Graham commissioned Stansfeld to construct Burley Mills around 1799 and Gott leased it from him. It was mainly used for blanket manufacture. Gott became Mayor of Leeds in 1799. There is a delightful contemporary account in the Butler diaries from Kirkstall Forge of a major fire at Abbey Mills in 1799, when Gott personally lead the two civic fire engines over the hill at Burley in order to extinguish the blaze.

Gott became a textile millionaire. He purchased and redeveloped Armley Mills in 1805 following a major fire and also acquired the existing mansion in Gott's Park, [see right] parts of which survive today. In 1809 he commissioned the famous landscape architect Humphrey Repton to design a great park incorporating both Armley Mills and the mansion. This extended across the floor of the Kirkstall Valley almost as far as Burley Mills, but much of this was subsequently obliterated by the Kirkstall Power Station. A few of these works survive today along the river banks, where Gott constructed bridges linking to the newly constructed Kirkstall Road, and a pedestrian suspension bridge to facilitate access to Burley Mills.

Gott's Mansion
River bank below St Ann's Mill

The picture [left] shows the southern river bank near Redcote Lane. The stonework almost certainly dates from Repton's scheme. The narrow cast iron gate originally gave access to the pedestrian suspension bridge constructed over the river in the early 19th century which allowed workers from Armley to walk to Burley Mills. The bridge survived into the 1950's when it was destroyed by fire, but the pillars and parts of the cablework remain.

Considerable mystery surrounds the third mill goit and weir to the south west of St Ann's Mills that created the river island. These were constructed around 1820, but there is no trace of any corresponding water mill. It is not certain whether these features were built only as flood relief measures, or whether the falling cost of steam power ultimately made water mills uneconomic.

These developments took place against a background of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the Luddite and Chartist disturbances. Trading conditions were highly variable. At the same time the population was expanding rapidly, new schools and churches were being built, and for all the bad publicity, factory production resulted in a considerable increase in wealth.

Existing grade II listed mill buildings in the Kirkstall Valley

Ref.Brief descriptionMapDateComments


Kirkstall Abbey Kennels Abbey Road LS5



includes sluice gates, cottage & Kirkstall Abbey weir


Abbey Mills Abbey Road including 13 Abbey Road LS5



rebuilt after major fire, includes Abbey Villa


Ford & weir on River Aire, Commercial Road, LS5



part of the third goit, creating the river island


Weir & sluice gates Burley Mills Kirkstall Road, LS4



sluice gates destroyed by Leeds City Council


Weir River Aire Kirkstall Road, LS4



southern end of the third goit


Main range Burley Mills, Kirkstall Road, LS4



(4 entries) now government offices


Weaving shed Burley Mills Kirkstall Road, LS4



demolished with Leeds City Council agreement


Gott's Mansion, Armley Ridge Road, LS12



residential building, not a mill


Armley Mills, Canal Road, LS12



(8 entries) now the Leeds Industrial Museum

The yellow shaded area shows the approximate extent of Gott's land ownership in 1822. He may have owned additional land beyond that identified on this map. The Leeds - Skipton railway and the coal loading berths on the canal did not exist when the park was planned.

Download the Historical Evidence

In addition to the visible remains on site, some of the key historical documents are tabulated below. Please click the links on the right or the left to download copies. We are adding these items one by one, trying to achieve an acceptable compromise between file size and image quality. Many of the original scanned documents are much larger than the fragments available here. If anybody would like to receive full size, full-resolution versions, or is aware of additional unlisted papers that are relevant to St Ann's Mills or Abbey Mills, then we would like to hear from you. email: john.illingworth@leeds.gov.uk

dateresourcecopy locationcommentsdownload
1711 map of the Earl of Cardigan's estate Sheepscar archive, Leeds St Ann's mill is not shown 933KB
1771 Jefferys' map of Yorkshire Leeds local history library St Ann's mill first shown at small scale 1.0MB
1781 Tuke's map of Leeds Leeds local history library mill goit survey may be inaccurate 354 KB
1797 Butterworth's map 10 miles near Leeds Leeds local history library Kirkstall Road & Burley mills not yet built 203KB
1799 Butler diary (Kirkstall Forge) Thoresby Society describes the fire at Abbey Mills  
1806 James Graham MP Leeds University Library evidence to Select Committee on the woollen trade 1.05MB
1809 Butterworth's map 10 miles near Leeds Leeds local history library earliest known map showing Kirkstall Road 204KB
1811 Taylor's map of Bramley Leeds local history library earliest known map showing St Ann's Mill weir 185KB
1819 Marriage settlements Wakefield deeds registry? Sandford Graham & Caroline Langston  
1822 Thorp's map Leeds local history library first record of the third goit to the west of the island 466KB
1822 Trade Directory [Baines] Leeds local history library lists mill operators and merchants 967KB
1824 Wm Lindley's notebook Leeds University Library lists all the Leeds steam engines working in 1824 705KB
1825 Brooke & Hargrave's patent 5224 Patent Office improvements in scribbling and carding wool 1.26MB
1825 James Graham's will National Archives leaves most of his estate to Sandford Graham in Kirkstall 1.1MB
1830 Trade Directory [Parson & White] Leeds local history library lists mill operators and merchants 967KB
1831 Thorp's map Leeds local history library shows road development 372KB
1833 Newton's London Journal of Arts and Sciences Google Books Law report: Brooke & Hargrave v. Ripley & Ogle

see left

1834 Headingley / Burley Enclosure Award Sheepscar archive, Leeds accurate map showing land ownership 235KB
1834 Trade Directory [Baines & Newsome] Leeds local history library lists mill operators and merchants 967KB
1834 Baines & Newsome map Leeds local history library shows road development 1.1MB
1834 Parson's Miscellaneous History of Leeds Google Books Rev. John Moore and his daughter Anne

see left

1835 Private Act of Parliament House of Lords Archive this legalised the Graham leases

too large

1837 White's West Riding history & gazetteer Google Books Records the destruction of Abbey Mills by fire in 1827.

see left

1837 George Haward's list of landowners Thoresby Society the corresponding map is lost  
1839 Debrett's Baronetage Google Books Graham family history

see left

1846 Kirkstall Tithe Award Sheepscar archive, Leeds accurate map showing land ownership 417KB
1851 Ordnance Survey Leeds local history library omits various weirs, including St Ann's Mill 65KB
1861 Chancery Case Reports Google Books Law Report: Boughton v. Jervis

see left

1892 Ordnance Survey Leeds local history library shows maximum development at St Ann's Mill 161KB
1931 W.B.Crump: The Leeds Woollen Industry Thoresby Society Major account of industrial development from 1780 to 1820

too large

1960 The Grahams of Kirkstall not yet located brief family history (30 pages)  
1992 WYAS report on St Ann's Mills West Yorks Archaeology one section from an extensive study of the Kirkstall mill goits 2.69MB
2007 Janet Douglas: The Brudenells & Headingley Headingley Community web site History of the Earls of Cardigan in Headingley & Kirkstall

see left

2009 The Long Lease Estate Dr J.L. CruickshankSt Ann's Mills and the Long Lease Estate 165KB

Leeds PhD Theses relevant to St Ann's Mills

See also Daniels, S, (1981) Landscaping for a manufacturer: Humphrey Repton's commission for Benjamin Gott at Armley in 1809-10 Journal of Historical Geography 7(4), 379-396.


The following animation shows the approximate construction sequence for the various Kirkstall mills, roads and water courses. Property conveyances for the mills shared responsibility for maintaining the water power network between the various mill owners, showing that the system was conceived and operated as a single entity.



  Kirkstall Road does not exist, and the Earl of Cardigan's map shows only Abbey Mills, Savins Mill and Armley Mills


Jefferys' map shows St Ann's Mills and the Leeds - Liverpool Canal


Tuke's map shows that the future Gott's Mansion has been constructed


Burley Mills and Burley Mill goit have been completed


Kirkstall Road has been completed as far as Bridge Road and Kirkstall Lane


Redcote Lane (first alignment) and the third (western) goit have been completed, creating the river island


Redcote Lane (second alignment) and St Stephens Church have been constructed, Abbey road extended to Horsforth


Original alignment abandoned for Redcote Lane


Kirkstall viaduct has been opened, and railway development is practically complete

Click any of the blue dates to freeze the display, or here to restart the animation.

Detailed History

Abbey Mill goit was constructed in medieval times, but the 1711 map of the Earl of Cardigan's estate shows only Abbey Mills and Savins Mills without any buildings at the St Ann's Mill site, where the goit re-joins the main river. Edward Parson's "Miscellaneous History" of Leeds recorded in 1834 that in the 1760's the Rev. John Moore, Vicar of Headingley, leased about 500 acres of land in Kirkstall from the Earl of Cardigan. This land passed to his daughter, Anne, and would have included the site of St Ann's Mill.

St Ann’s Mill was constructed before 1771 (when it first appears on Jefferys' map) and operated as a "traditional" fulling and scribbling mill serving family weavers working under the domestic system. It passed to James Graham through his marriage to Anne Moore in 1781, but Graham did little to change its function. Graham was the Recorder of Appleby, MP for Cockermouth 1802-5, for Wigton Burghs 1805-6, for Cockermouth again 1807-12 and for Carlisle 1812-25. His family held land and property in Carlisle and London, in addition to the Kirkstall valley.

No less than four James Grahams served in the British parliament around this time, some of them were related to each other, some represented the same constituencies, and there is considerable confusion between them. It is difficult to be certain that secondary sources have not muddled or amalgamated them. Some of the best known James Grahams are tabulated below:

IDfull nameborndiedconstituenciespublic offices
1 Sir James Graham, 1st Baronet (Kirkstall) 1753 1825 Cockermouth (1802-5 & 1807-12)
Carlisle (1812-25)
Recorder of Appleby
2 Sir James Robert George Graham, 2nd Baronet 1792 1861 [Whig] Hull, Carlisle (1826), Cumberland
[Tory] Pembroke, Dorchester
Home Secretary (under Robert Peel)
First Lord of the Admiralty (twice)
3 James Graham, 3rd Duke of Montrose 1755 1836 Richmond, Great Bedwyn Lord Chamberlain and many others
4 James Graham, 4th Duke of Montrose 1799 1874 Cambridge Lord Lieutenant of Stirlingshire
Postmaster General and others
5 James Graham MP 1753 1825 Wigtown Burghs 1805-1806  

We currently believe that (1) and (5) above were the same person.

James Graham from Kirkstall was a national figure who was made a baronet in 1808. He was an important member of the select committee that inquired into the woollen industry in 1806. His evidence to the committee makes it clear that he favoured the domestic system for social reasons and that his construction of Burley Mills around 1798 as a purpose-built factory for Benjamin Gott was not intended to disturb the arrangements for his existing tenants. The legislation that followed the select committee’s report allowed the mechanisation and concentration of the woollen trade, and paved the way for numerous technological improvements during the early part of the 19th century. St Ann’s Mill played a part in this, and some of the evidence is still visible today.

The Pumphouse

Remains of the pumphouse looking NW from the derelict 18C mill.

St Ann's was the site for an early steam pumping engine used to feed a water wheel. Such survivals are quite rare, and in this case it may be possible to identify the owner of the engine. In 1824 Wm Lindley prepared a catalogue of all the steam engines in Leeds, from which the two most likely owners appear to be James Hargreave or John Wood. In their 1992 report, the West Yorkshire Archaeological Service allocated this engine to John Wood. We support this assignment because: (1) trade directories suggest that Wood was operating in Kirkstall when Lindley prepared his list of steam engines, although he later moved to Farsley; (2) Wood’s engine was smaller than Hargreaves engine and would fit more easily into the confined space; and (3) although the spelling is hugely inconsistent, many of the early Kirkstall and Burley references are to Hargraves rather than Hargreaves.

Water levels

Water level view of the wheelbreast from the side weir.

There is an issue about the water levels in the millpond. The arches of the 18th century road bridge are very low in the water, and there is little opportunity to increase the water level, which is also constrained by the heights of the main weir on the main river and the side weir within the mill complex itself. This level is insufficient to overtop the iron wheel breast which is still located in the main water channel, and the rivets on the top of the remaining breast suggest that it was formerly higher than it is today.

There is a slot in the base of the wheelbreast, indicating an undershot design, so why was it necessary to fit a wheelbreast far higher than the maximum achievable water level?

The Wheelbreast

The wheelbreast looking up the main water channel.

It is possible that St Ann’s waterwheel had two independent water supplies, and could operate both as an ordinary undershot wheel fed from below, but could in addition receive a separate high level input, via the pumping engine, above the level of the rising breast. This arrangement could explain the otherwise mysterious "slit" cut into the archway above the side weir, which attracted the attention of the West Yorkshire Archaeology Service in 1992 (WYAS report, page 19). This feature could have been necessary for a high level open water channel between the pumping engine and the water wheel.

In 1824, burning coal to pump large volumes of water to a higher level must have been a hideously expensive pastime. A low volume, high level feed could have given the water wheel a greatly improved starting torque, which would rapidly decline as it picked up speed. It was in any case difficult to couple early steam engines directly to machinery because these engines did not revolve at a constant speed. This task became much easier after double acting pistons with a separate condenser were introduced by James Watt, and copied by other manufacturers. Was this elaborate Kirkstall system mainly used for starting, or maybe as a supplementary power source when water levels were low?

Nowadays it is easy to control torque through gearing or electrical means, but this must have been a real headache in the early 19th century, before the invention of the Bessemer process and the arrival of cheap steel. Lifting some of the input water to a higher level may have been a viable "low tech" alternative to a complex power transmission system.

We still do not understand the function of the second much smaller channel (image right, see WYAS report, page 18) running through the 18C water mill.

St Ann’s Mill was a site for technical innovation, evidenced by the patent 5224 granted on 26 July 1825 to J.E. Brooke of Headingley, near Leeds and J. Hargrave, of Kirkstall; for improvements in or additions to machinery used in scribbling and carding wool, or other fibrous substances. It involved the use of steam heaters and a modified "doffer" to align the fibres correctly on the carding machine. Other local manufacturers copied the technique, leading to an action for damages in 1833 by Brooke and Hargrave, clothiers, of Kirkstall near Leeds, as Patentees of an improved machine for scribbling and carding wool, against Ripley and Ogle, of Leeds, clothiers, for using their improved process and imitating their machine for scribbling and carding wool.

Low resolution copy of the drawings for Brooke & Hargraves 1825 patent specification.

We can trace the cashmere business at St Ann’s Mills through the trade directories: 1822 [Baines] J.E. Brooke is listed as a woollen manufacturer based in Kirkstall, and Jas Hargrave is the overlooker at St Ann’s Mills. 1830 [Parson & White] J.E. Brooke & Co. are listed as merchants and Indiana cloth & fine yarn manufacturers, and Jas Hargrave is a merchant, all at St Ann’s Mill. 1834 [Baines & Newsome] James Hargrave and sons are merchants and manufacturers of Indianas, Anglo-Cashmeres, Anglo-Merinos and muslin delaine at St Ann’s Mill.

Sandford Graham (second baronet) married Caroline Langston in 1819 and James Graham died in 1825. Stansfelds (who by this stage were tenants at Burley Mills) went bankrupt during the depression in the mid 1820's. One or other of these events seems to have resulted in the realisation that James Graham MP never had sufficient legal authority to lease his land in Kirkstall, thereby undermining the growing textile industry in the Kirkstall valley, and necessitating a Private Act of the House of Lords in 1835 to regularise the position.

The Private Act separately identifies Brooke and Wood as two of James Graham’s leaseholders in Kirkstall. Brooke appears to have been the older, richer man, and Hargrave was his eventual successor. Trade directories identify Wood as a Kirkstall miller throughout the 1820’s (matching Lindley’s 1824 catalogue of Leeds steam engines) and only later is he listed as operating a mill in Farsley.

The Main Mill Building

The main mill looking west.

The main building (unit 6) at St Ann's Mill appears to date from the 1830's. The fourth storey and roof were destroyed in a fire in 1975 but we have photographs of the building intact. Unit 6 appears on the 1846 tithe map in substantially modern form, but the map for the 1834 enclosure award may show an earlier structure. The survey dates for both these maps are likely to be a few years prior to their publication, and some details may even have been copied from earlier drawings. The precise form of these buildings was not relevant to the map maker, so there was little impetus to maintain accuracy.

A photograph of St Ann's Mill in the 1950's

Unit 6 was designed and built as a steam powered textile mill. There is a three-storey engine room within the southern end of the building, with massive foundations for a substantial beam engine and flywheel. The separate boiler house and chimney have been partly demolished. Unit 6 was built with inside [flush?] toilets on each floor, anticipating the widespread use of this technology. Weaving sheds were added to the west of the building (and are shown on the 1851 maps) but were needlessly demolished about 12 years ago by the council's asset management division.

Unit One

The short goit flows beneath unit one.

We still do not know the function of unit one, or why it was built partially on girders over the goit. There must be a good reason for this, because the Victorian developers had vacant land available which was much less likely to flood. We are constructing a floating remote controlled camera system to photograph the underside of this building from the goit. This may give better clues about its function. We are also arranging for a ground-penetrating radar survey of the area, which could be used to calibrate the older maps. Ongoing research would be severely impeded if any remaining buildings were demolished.

In 1852 Sir Sandford Graham was succeeded by his son (also called Sandford Graham) who seems to have squandered much of the family fortune on horse racing. Sandford junior borrowed money at 10% interest to feed his addiction, leading to a case in the Chancery Division in 1861, where other parties unsuccessfully tried to argue that this loan was usurious. Sandford junior died in 1875 aged 54. He was succeeded by the 4th Baronet Sir Lumley Graham, and a 5th Baronet Sir Cyril Clerke Graham, but the title died out in 1895.

Much of the area south of St Ann's Mills was changed beyond recognition by the Kirkstall Power Station development, but this painting from Armley Park ca. 1850 shows Redcote Farm, the river island and St Ann's Mills after the construction of the Leeds – Skipton railway.

Future research

So far we have only been able to scratch the surface of this fascinating site. It is clear from exposed foundations and historic maps that there is much more below ground. We have located only a fraction of the written records, and have yet to do any work on the 1834 Enclosure Award, insurance records or the Wakefield Deeds Registry. We know there was dyeing, silk and cotton as well as woollen manufacture at St Ann’s Mills. Kirkstall in the 1820’s was a hotbed for technical innovation, with an expanding population, new companies established and shifting alliances between the various players as the industrial revolution got under way.

In addition to defining the sequence of events, it is important to understand the patterns of development. Dr Cruickshank has suggested that many of the key players were related, either through descent or marriage. Mapping out these relationships could shed light on what took place. Property normally passed to the eldest son, but other family members clearly had an interest in keeping the estate together, and actively cooperated to achieve this end. It would be interesting to establish how many of the loans and mortgages were extended family transactions, and how many involved total strangers. We guess this latter group will prove to be quite small.

It is interesting that these families managed to finance significant development although they were already in debt. The Saviles appear to have lost money during the Civil War, and were obliged to lease much of their land, while retaining titular ownership. James Graham was a rich but landless lawyer who married into the tenants of this "long lease estate". He may have paid off existing mortgages (by selling land in Armley) before financing new development.

The Brudenells were a Catholic family until the 1715 rebellion, who suffered massive fines for recusancy (failing to attend Church of England services) but nevertheless amassed a huge estate. They enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in Northamptonshire and London. Growing debts forced the sale of the Yorkshire property between 1884 - 1893, providing much of the residential building land in Headingley, Burley and Kirkstall.

Mill owners suffered significant losses, not all of which were covered by insurance. Abbey Mills housed an explosive combination of flour dust, woollen fleeces and linseed oil, and burned down at least twice in 1799 and 1827, while Armley Mills, Burley Mills and St Ann's Mills also suffered major fires. These industries were prone to cycles of "boom and bust". Stansfelds (who seem to have done much of the construction work) were bankrupt in 1825. The disruption and loss of income attendant on these events must have been a considerable burden.

Attempts to protect the family estates by complex leasehold settlements plainly backfired during the 1820's when uncertainty about the validity of the Graham leases eventually required a private Act of Parliament for its resolution in 1835. This may well have delayed development at St Ann's Mills, and might explain the seemingly pointless construction of the third mill goit without any corresponding water mill. Alternatively, this channel may have been a flood relief measure. Contemporary accounts are full of references to floods, and water mills are unable to work when the tailrace is under water.

We know from Rogerson (a Bramley mill owner, whose diary was transcribed by W.B. Crump and published by the Thoresby Society) that local mills were often short of water. Modern dry weather flows include the considerable output from upstream sewage works, but during 18th century summers the river may have dwindled to a trickle. The steam pumping engine may have been fitted to remedy this problem by recirculating water after its passage through the mill. At present we do not know the locations of either the inlet or the outlet from this pump. These should be discoverable, if further demolition can be prevented.

Kirkstall Chronology in a wider context

Date National / International events Local events in Leeds & Yorkshire



Charles I granted 1st Charter of Incorporation to the Borough of Leeds,
Sir John Savile, Knight, was the first "Alderman" (Mayor)


Galileo Galilei: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems



(1) English Civil War (1642-1651)
(2) Rembrandt: The Night Watch



The Brudenells were created Earls of Cardigan by Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660

Charles II granted 2nd Charter of Incorporation to the Borough of Leeds,
Thomas Danby was the new Mayor


Great Fire of London



Molière: The Miser

Francis Brudenell married Lady Frances Savile, thereby adding the Savile land in Yorkshire to the Brudenell estates


Isaac Newton: Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica



Glorious Revolution - James II replaced by William & Mary




Opening of the Aire & Calder Navigation


Abraham Darby successfully using coke to smelt iron

John Dickenson mapped the Brudenell estates in Leeds


Newcomen steam engine invented



First Jacobite rebellion



Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons




Daniel Defoe described the Leeds cloth market


(1) Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations
(2) George Frideric Handel: Messiah



Second Jacobite rebellion




James Graham was born [presumably in Cumberland?]


Middleton railway [in Leeds] first modern railway



John Smeaton: An Experimental Enquiry Concerning the Natural Powers of Water and Wind to Turn Mills and Other Machines Depending on Circular Motion




Benjamin Gott was born



Rev Moore in Headingley leased 500 acres from the Earl of Cardigan (approximate date)


Matthew Boulton's Soho Manufactory completed in Birmingham



James Watt patented separate condensers for steam engines



(1) Leeds - Liverpool Canal Act.
(2) James Hargreaves attempted to patent the "Spinning Jenny"



Arkwright began the first cotton spinning mill at Cromford

Thomas Jefferys' map of Yorkshire shows St Ann’s Mill for the first time


Captain Cook's second voyage to Australia




Major flooding on the River Aire


American Declaration of Independence



Leeds - Liverpool Canal opened as far as Gargrave



First iron bridge constructed at Ironbridge



Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier working on oxygen, nitrogen, chemical nomenclature and the conservation of mass

(1) Marriage of Anne Moore & James Graham.
(2) John Tuke published a dubious map showing the Kirkstall goits


Pierre-Simon Laplace: first publication on Laplace transforms



Montgolfier brothers: first balloon flights



William Withering: Medical uses of the Foxglove



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Marriage of Figaro



Boulton & Watt: first centrifugal governor

Sandford Graham 1st born


French Revolution: storming of the Bastille

Richard Oastler born



River Aire flooded


(1) Thomas Paine: The Rights of Man
(2) Robert Burns: Tam o’Shanter




Construction of Bean Ing Mill by Benjamin Gott



Armley Inclosure Act


Joseph Haydn: Symphony 104

River Aire flooded – three men drowned in Leeds dam.


Edward Jenner experimented with smallpox vaccination




Butterworth map of Leeds and its environs


Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Ludwig von Beethoven: Pathetique Sonata

James Graham started work on Burley Mills, but was delayed by flooding. The completed mill building was subsequently leased by Benjamin Gott



(1) Armley Inclosure Award.
(2) Bramley Enclosure Award.
(3) Major fire at Abbey Mills.
(4) River Aire flooded.


(1) Alessandro Volta invented the first electric battery
(2) Boulton & Watt steam engine patent expired



Philip James de Loutherbourg: Coalbrookdale by Night



Battle of Trafalgar

Armley Mills destroyed by fire, redeveloped by Benjamin Gott


Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to consider the state of woollen manufacturing in England in 1806.

(1) Kirkstall Road was constructed as a new turnpike road.
(2) River Aire flooded



River Aire flooded


James Graham was made a baronet

William Thompson's mill first imported Australian merino wool



(1) Butterworth map of Leeds shows the new Kirkstall Road turnpike.
(2) Benjamin Gott commissioned Humphrey Repton to design the landscape in Armley and the Kirkstall Valley.


Armedo Avogadro: Essai d'une manière de déterminer les masses relatives des molécules élémentaires des corps, et les proportions selon lesquelles elles entrent dans ces combinaisons.

Taylor maps of Bramley show St Ann’s Mill weir in its current position, with a flood bund and washland to the south west, but no sign yet of the third mill goit which created the river island.


(1) Anglo-American war (1812 - 1815)
(2) First commercial gas works in London

(1) First Mathew Murray steam locomotive.
(2) Luddite riots in Leeds.


Jane Austen: Pride & Prejudice



Battle of Waterloo



(1) Gioachino Rossini: The Barber of Seville
(2) Widespread crop failures and famine after the Tambora eruption in 1815

(1) Practical completion of the Leeds - Liverpool Canal.
(2) River Aire flooded



Wellington Bridge constructed in Leeds


Peterloo massacre

Sandford Graham married Caroline Langston. The marriage settlement included leases in Kirkstall of 32 acres to Benjamin Gott for £1,383 per year (Burley Mills), 13 acres to J and C Brooke for £1,300 per year (probably St Ann’s Mills) and 13 acres to J and C Wood for £1,320 per year (unidentified mills in Kirkstall).



Sandford Graham 2nd born


Franz Schubert: "Wanderer" Fantasia

(1) Thorpe map of the West Riding shows the completion of the third goit, creating a river island below St Ann’s Mills.
(2) Baines Directory of the County of York lists Jas Hargrave as an "overlooker" at St Ann’s Mills and J.E. Brook and Co as woollen manufacturers.
(3) Foundation of St Stephen's School, Kirkstall
(4) River Aire flooded.


(1) Ludwig van Beethoven: Ninth Symphony
(2) Joseph Aspdin patented Portland cement in Leeds.
(3) Sadi Carnot: Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres à développer cette puissance.

(1) Wm Lindley catalogued all the steam engines in Leeds, and listed John Wood and Sons using a 20hp engine built by Hird Dawson [based at Low Moor Iron Works in Bradford from 1791] for woollen cloth manufacture
(2) JMW Turner: Kirkstall Abbey
(3) River Aire flooded


Opening of the Stockton - Darlington railway.

(1) Major slump throughout Leeds caused financial problems in Kirkstall.
(2) Patent number 5224 granted on 26 July 1825 to J.E. Brooke of Headingley, near Leeds and J. Hargrave, of Kirkstall; for improvements in or additions to machinery used in scribbling and carding wool, or other fibrous substances.
(3) James Graham died.


Completion of the suspension bridge designed by Thomas Telford across the Menai Straits

(1) Parson’s Leeds Directory lists James Hargreave as "manager" of St Ann’s Mills, Baines Leeds Directory lists Jas Hargreave as "superintendent" and John Wood as a scribbling and fulling miller
(2) Stansfelds [now tenants at Burley Mills] were made bankrupt.



(1) Leeds Market Hall constructed.
(2) Abbey Mills destroyed by fire (again!)


(1) Metropolitan Police Act.
(2) first recorded use of Portland cement

Consecration of St Stephen's Church, Kirkstall (2.25 acres donated by the Earl of Cardigan; £500 gift from Sir Sandford Graham)


Charles Lyell: Principles of Geology

Jas Hargrave described as a "merchant" at St Ann’s Mill (Parson & White, Clothing District Directory, which also lists John Edward Brooke and Co as "merchants and Indiana cloths & fine yarn manufacturers, St Ann’s Mill and Hunslet Lane")


(1) Voyage of the Beagle with Charles Darwin (1831 – 1836),
(2) Michael Faraday began work on electromagnetic induction

Thorpe map of the West Riding


Parliamentary Reform

Cholera epidemic in Leeds


(1) Abolition of Slavery Act
(2) Factory Act.

Law Report from The London Journal of Arts and Sciences Published by Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1833 page 35 Court of Exchequer, Westminster. Brooke and Hargrave v. Ripley and Ogle. (Before the Chief Baron Lyndhurst.) This was an action for damages brought by Brooke and Hargrave, clothiers, of Kirkstall near Leeds, as Patentees of an improved machine for scribbling and carding wool, against Ripley and Ogle, of Leeds, clothiers, for using their improved process and imitating their machine for scribbling and carding wool.



(1) Leeds - Selby railway opened.
(2) Enclosure Award for Headingley cum Burley with map.
(3) Hargrave James & Sons described as "merchants & manufacturers of Indianas, Anglo Cashmeres, Anglo Merinos, and muslin delaine, St Ann’s mill" (Baines & Newsome, Leeds Directory)
(4) Parson’s "…Miscellaneous History of Leeds…" was published.


Municipal Corporations Act

A Private Act of Parliament (5 & 6 William IV c. 17) confirmed the leases granted by James Graham in Kirkstall


(1) Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist (serial publication)
(2) Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne No. 10 in A flat major, Op. 32, No. 2
(3) Gaetano Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor

(1) History, Directory and Gazetteer of the West Riding published in Leeds by William White.
(2) Book of reference to a Map of Headingley cum Burley by George Hayward listed local land owners, but the map is lost.


Coronation of Queen Victoria

Construction work started on Temple Mill in Holbeck


(1) Leeds - Manchester railway completed.
(2) first large scale use of Portland cement in Bristol



early photographic processes

Richard Oastler imprisoned for debt


Joseph Whitworth - first screw thread standard

Benjamin Gott died


Giuseppe Verdi: Nabucco

Chartist insurrection in Leeds


Isambard Kingdom Brunel: SS Great Britain



(1) Samuel Morse: Electric telegraph
(2) Factory Act

Richard Oastler released from debtors prison.


Felix Mendelssohn: Violin concerto
Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto



(1) potato famine in Ireland and elsewhere
(2) nitroglycerine & nitrocellulose invented
(3) repeal of the Corn Laws

(1) Leeds central station opened.
(2) Tithe redemption map of Kirkstall shows that James Hargreave & Son are tenants of Sir Sandford Graham at St Ann’s Mill and also shows St Ann’s Mill unit 6 in a recognisably "modern" form.


(1) Anesthesia with chloroform and ether
(2) Bronte sisters published their first novels
(3) rotary printing press invented.
(4) "Ten Hour Act" regulated factory work



Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: Communist Manifesto

Cholera epidemic in Leeds


improved cement manufacture 1842-8

Kirkstall railway viaduct opened


Great Exhibition in London



Joule - Thomson effect discovered

Sandford Graham 1st died


Crimean War (1853 – 1856) James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan led the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854



Dr John Snow first identified the source of a cholera epidemic by removing the handle from the Broad Street pump



(1) Perkin synthesised mauveine - first synthetic dye
(2) Bessemer converter - cheap steel




Leeds Town Hall opened by Queen Victoria


(1) Charles Darwin: Origin of Species
(2) John Stuart Mill: On Liberty
(3) First oil well in Pennsylvania



American Civil War (1861 – 1865)
Gettysburg 1863

(1) Richard Oastler died
(2) Boughton v. Jervis in the High Court of Chancery – creditors caught up with Sir Sandford Graham 2nd


James Clerk Maxwell: Electromagnetic theory of light

Hunslet Engine Company founded


Gregor Mendel: Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden

The 'Great Flood of Leeds', November 1866 resulted in twenty deaths – this was the worst recorded flood until December 2015

Last updated 11 April 2017 at 00:51. Back to the top

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