Monday, 10 August 2015

Wild Leeds

On Saturday, we went for a wander around part of Holbeck, the area of Leeds just south of the railway station. Our main objective was to see the Temple Mill, a 19th century flax mill built to look like an ancient Egyptian temple.  It's an amazing place.

The office building (above) appears to be in good repair and is currently occupied, I think.  The main mill building next door is not.   From the outside, it appears to be mainly held up by scaffolding, but there are occasional open days when you can go inside, so it must be in a better state than it looks. (See here.)

The plaque on the office building.
Originally, the main mill building was designed to have grass growing on the roof (a green roof in 1838!), grazed by sheep, and there are large conical roof lights at intervals.  So perhaps it's not too worrying that there are plants growing on the roof now.  And it's perfectly OK that you can see through the roof from the outside of the building - that's just one of the roof lights.

Behind Temple Mill, there is a large area than evidently was once covered by buildings (and probably will be again).  Meanwhile, the buildings have been demolished, and plants have taken over.  It was sometimes a bit surreal - for instance, the parking sign saying "Pay here at machine. Display ticket." next to a stretch of cobbled road that was completely inaccessible by car. (Just as well, as the ticket machine had been removed.)

Parking sign and cobbled road

Round the corner, it was like walking along a country lane - no traffic, no buildings, hedges at the side of the road.   But in fact, the 'hedges' were chain-link fences covered in rampant bindweed, and the shrubs were mostly buddleia -  typical of urban scrub.

There is a tangle of railway lines in that area, running into Leeds City Square station.  here's two of the lines, at different levels, crossing each other, with a train on the lower level, and what looks almost like a wild-flower meadow in the foreground.

And all this was just a few minutes' walk from the centre of Leeds.  We walked back along the canal towpath - the Leeds-Liverpool canal runs into the River Aire near the railway station.  The canal runs parallel to the river for a stretch, with the towpath between the two, and giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam and rosebay willow-herb growing on the river bank.      

The area around the junction of the river and the canal has been redeveloped over the past few years, and is perhaps what the rest of Holbeck will look like in a few years - a mixture of new buildings and renovated old buildings.  And on a fine sunny Saturday, it was full of people sitting outside the cafes and bars, enjoying themselves.


  1. Did you see the Thubron: ?

    1. No didn't see it - but plan to go back soonish anyway. John wanted to see the truck lift (for railway trucks - near the station) but my knees had had enough by then. I looked at your post - I like the International Pool Car Park with no vestige of pool. The link to the catalogue of post-war murals no longer works, but I got it via the Wayback Machine.

  2. What an interesting walk - I love wild areas of cities.

    1. Thanks - I especially like the thought that we could have followed the canal the other way, and walked through the Yorkshire Dales, all the way to Liverpool (in theory).


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