Armley Mill Team Defy the Floods

We were very proud to see Armley Mill at Leeds Industrial Museum officially re-opened today by Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council. With ward councillors and other important stakeholders attending, it was a great opportunity for the team at Armley Mills to be acknowledged for the hard work and commitment that they have put into preparing Armley Mills for the public again after the devastating floods of Christmas 2015.

Councillor Judith Blake shows flood level markers on the side of the cotton mill.

There has been a huge impact on local businesses and homes caused by the floods in the area. The community as a whole and volunteers from far and wide have pulled together to embark on the major clean-up of the silt and debris that the floods inflicted on Armley Mills and other areas along the Kirkstall Valley.

A specially made plaque (unveiled by Councillor Blake) had been mounted above the previous plaque from 1866, which shows the level of flooding at the mill in that year. The flood in 2015 exceeded the 1866 flood water level by several feet (as the relative positions of the plaques demonstrate). At some points the water had reached almost 8ft at the mill, which was once the world’s largest woollen mill and has an enormous heritage significance as well as housing some very important artefacts and displays (including our own Behind the Seams exhibition).

The team at Armley, cancelling Christmas leave and holidays, turned out to undertake a mammoth clean-up at Armley. With no power supply and filthy flood water to deal with we are extremely grateful to the team for ensuring that Behind the Seams, our permanent exhibition at the mill, was protected from damage. Luckily, Armley’s wonderful 1930s Hattersley loom escaped damage as it had recently been brought back to life as a Yorkshire Textile Armley Mills project. The iconic textile loom, developed in Keighley by George Hattersley & Sons was a backbone of the textile history of the region and beyond. Armley Mills Weave is now produced using vintage looms using the British Wool 'eco' fleece developed by Laxtons of Guiseley.

Our wonderful donation of fabrics and leathers from Asprey London, used by us for young designer projects, was also protected from damage. At times we are sure that the very dedicated team at Armley would not have been able to imagine the mill returning to a time when the public could be welcomed. We would like to say a special thank you to Sarah Barton the Keeper for both Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley MIlls and Thwaites Mill.

As 14th and 15th May is National Mills Weekend, it was very fitting that Armley Mills was able to re-open officially to participate in the celebration.

Hattersley loom at Armley Mill at Leeds Industrial Museum