Site Home
 



Topic Home


Benjamin Gott

Benjamin Gott was born in 1762, the son of John Gott, a civil engineer, who lived at Calverley. He was educated at Bingley Grammar School, and at the age of eighteen was apprenticed to the Leeds woollen cloth merchants, Joseph Fountaine and John Wormald, for a fee of 400. In 1785 Gott became a junior partner in the firm. Shortly afterwards, the other partners died; John Wormald's eldest son was too young to join the firm, which left Gott in effective control.

In 1792 Gott purchased 16 acres of land, part of the Drony Laith Estate, alongside the River Aire at Bean Ing to the west of the city. There he built his factory, later known as Park Mills; the factory had its own gasometer. Gott changed the way woollen cloth manufacture was organised, although the technology remained much the same. Although the preparation of the wool, and the finishing processes were mechanised, the spinning and weaving of the cloth was carried out by hand, as they were in the cottages of the clothiers. The factory workers however, worked under close supervision, for the hours dictated by their masters.

England was at war with France, and by 1797 Gott was employing a workforce of 1200, producing blankets, and cloth for army uniforms. As well as running his factories, Gott continued to act as a merchant, buying cloth in the cloth halls and bringing them for finishing to his factory. Park Mills was a huge enterprise, the biggest woollen cloth factory in Yorkshire, at a time when there were only about 20 factories of all kinds in Leeds.

In 1790 Benjamin Gott married Elizabeth Rhodes of Badsworth, and they lived in a house in Park Lane. He became a member of Leeds Corporation in 1791, and Mayor in 1799. He bought Armley House and its 70-acre park in 1803.  He entertained many distinguished guests, including two royal princes who visited his factory in 1806. He was one of the founders of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, and of the Leeds Mechanics Institute, and was a patron of the arts. He was generous with his wealth, and was known as a liberal and kind master. Benjamin Gott died in 1840, aged seventy-eight.
Click images to enlarge
Benjamin Gott
Benjamin Gott
Gott's factory at Bean Ing
Gott's factory at Bean Ing
Gasometer
Gasometer
Bean Ing Mills from Wellington Street
Bean Ing Mills from Wellington Street
Old workroom
Old workroom
Armley House
Armley House




Site Map

© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003