A few examples of Leeds industries, with some of their products, which demonstrate the economic diversity of the town at the end of the nineteenth century. As a writer in 'Yorkshire Industries' tells us in 1888, 'The spirit and enterprise of the inhabitants of Leeds and the district are well illustrated in the number and variety of their occupations.'
Pottery and Earthenware
Clay suitable for making pottery and earthenware was available locally, and before 1830 Hartley Green and Co. were making creamware at their pottery in Hunslet.
Burmantofts pottery made terracotta and faience work, which was used to face the front of buildings like the Empire Theatre in Leeds. Clay was also used to make bricks, much in demand to build new houses for the growing population.
As the population grew, so did the demand for foodstuffs. New flour mills were built and firms like Goodall Backhouse and R.S. Brownhills and Sons made all kinds of condiments and sweets. Goodall and Backhouse made the famous 'Yorkshire Relish', and Brownhill's made 'Feculina' a flour for making cakes of different flavours, butterscotch, peppermint rock, lozenges, fruit pastilles, turkish delight and other sweets. Henry Thorne and co. made chicory, cocoa and chocolate at his factory in Lady Lane.
Leeds was a centre of the malt trade. Maltsters supplied malt to local publicans who brewed their own beer. As demand increased wholesale breweries were set up, which produced their own malt; one of these was Sykes brewery in Hunslet, which in 1823 was bought by Joshua Tetley, a maltster from Armley, who founded perhaps the best known brewery in Leeds.
In 1886 there were 33 breweries in Leeds. Black or spruce beer was also produced as was vinegar, by the Cambrian Vinegar Company.
Coopers (Barrel Makers)
William Waide and Sons, made barrels for use in the brewing industry; they also made butter churns for the local market and for export.
Thomas Smith's Steam Crane works in Rodley was established in 1820. By 1888 it had a world-wide reputation for its cranes and lifting machinery.
Before electricity was widely available gas was the chief source of lighting for both domestic and industrial use. George Bray & Co. made all kinds of gas burners, as an advertisement from 1910 shows.
Glass Bottle Manufacturers
Alfred Alexander & co. Glass Bottle Manufacturers at the Hunslet Glass Works made glass bottles for mineral water and spirits and fruit and jam jars.
Stoves and Grates
Mathieson Wilson and Co. Ironfounders and Stove and Grate Manufacturers at the Scotch Foundry, Armley, specialised in making stoves and grates. They patented a smokeless cooking range, 'at once a preventer of smoke and an economiser of fuel'. They also made elegant tiled fireplaces.
Cigar and Tobacco Manufacturers
R & T Hebblethwaite, Exeter Street, Woodhouse Lane made 'every description of tobacco in demand at the present day', and Harrisons of Swinegate made cigars in a large workroom, with a store room above for storing the tobacco leaves.
Watkinson and Co. made 'all descriptions of photographic apparatus.'
Whiley Brothers Wholesale Toy Manufacturers, made toys of all kinds including trains, barrows, carts, cricket bats, battledores and shuttlecocks; they specialized in toy horses.
There were also perambulator makers, lamp makers, piano manufacturers, brush makers, clock makers, organ makers, and many more.
|Click images to enlarge|
Products made by Goodall Backhouse
Thornes, interior of factory
Cambrian Vinegar Company
Butter churn made by William Waide and Son
Steam crane made by Smith's of Rodley
Fireplace made by Mathieson, Wilson and Co.
Cameras made by Watkinson's
Toy horse made by Whiley's