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1820-1850

The 1820s were a time of rapid development in Leeds, and this is true of the waterfront area as well as the rest of the city. Fowlers map of 1826 shows us how much the waterfront had changed since the beginning of the century. Leeds Bridge was still the only crossing point from the city centre to south of the river, which meant that people wishing to cross in the western part of the town had to take a ferry over to Holbeck. In 1829 a footbridge was built across the river from the end of Neville Street across to Water Lane. School Close was by this time built up with mills and factories of all kinds.

The Canal Basin.
The Ordnance survey map of 1847 shows us the waterfront area in great detail.  The Canal Basin was now connected to the river at its northwestern end. A lock known as the Monk Pit lock, along with a small section of canal (the Monk Pit branch) was built, to provide access between the Canal Basin and wharves above the Bondman Dam. Later, this became very important in providing coal to the power station at Whitehall Road. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal Office, and the stone bridge over the canal were built in 1841. The bridge provided access from the canal wharves to the mills and factories south of the canal.

The map shows the Waterloo Swimming Baths, built in 1833-34. The building was designed by Chantrell, and according to Parson's was a fine building. 'The interior contains two complete suits of apartments, those in the west wing being appropriated to the ladies, and those in the east to the gentlemen. The water is derived from an excellent spring at a distance of ninety yards from the surface, and the baths consist of cold and shower, and Matlock and Buxton baths, at their respective temperatures'.

East of Leeds Bridge
The Aire and Calder Navigation company also built a huge warehouse, on the north bank of the river in 1827. This was a magnificent 7-storey building. The print from 1829 shows how busy the waterfront was at this time. The atmosphere of the mid-19th century waterfront has been captured in another print made in 1841,looking eastwards from Leeds Bridge, with the Aire and Calder navigation warehouse on the left, and St.Peter's church in the background. The building on the right is the old flax warehouse. The man with his dog is a 'logger', moving floating timbers in the river.

South of the river, The Aire and Calder Navigation Company built the New Dock or Clarence dock around 1840. It opened into the New Cutt, the section of canal by-passing the Leeds dam, and was the largest of the docks built in Leeds. Timber yards, and depots for stone coal, and other goods were built around its wharfs. It was in use until 1990, when it was purchased by Leeds Development Corporation, and became part of the Royal Armouries site.

The Calls
Further east along the river from Leeds Bridge, the Calls was now a narrow street running between mills, warehouses, and wharves. It was no longer a pleasant footpath through fields and gardens, as it had been in Thoresby's day. It was decribed by Heaton in 1835 as 'a gloomy road above the river'. Heaton also describes 'a long flight of steps, dark and ugly, between the houses (the last being into the water), long known by the name of 'Jenny White's Hole''. Legend had it that Jenny White, 'finding marriage vows as false as dicer's oaths' had ended her life here. The steps are not shown on this map, but they were probably just west of Crown Point.

Beyond Crown Point was Bank Mills. There had been a mill building on the site since 1791, when Leeds merchants Markland, Cookson and Fawcett built a cotton mill there. Cotton was spun there until 1797, and after that it was used as a woollen mill. In 1823 the mill was bought by John Hives and Joseph Atkinson, who had been partners of John Marshall of Holbeck. A fire destroyed the mill in 1824, and Hives and Atkinson built a new mill of fireproof construction. The architect was John Clark of Edinburgh. Further buildings were added in 1831-2 and 1832-3. The mill built in 1831-2 had a distinctive round tower to house the staircase and hoist.

Two prints, one from 1826, and one made just over a century earlier in 1715, show just how much the waterfront had changed during that time. Charles Cope's picture of 1826 looking from the east, shows a city shrouded in smoke-filled air from mill chimneys, and the waterfront beyond the weir lined with buildings. To the right of the picture is part of Bank Mills beside the junction of Sheepscar Beck with the river. A barge is shown entering the New Cutt, to unload its goods on the wharves beyond the weir in the centre of the picture. There are already some factory buildings on the south bank of the river.

Contrast this with the earlier print by Place, 'The Prospect of Leeds from the Knostrop Road', drawn in 1715.  The weir, the New Cutt, and Sheepscar Beck, in the middle of the picture, are all there, but except in the centre of the town where the wharves and warehouses were situated, there are fields leading down to the river bank. There are some small water-powered mills, like Nether Mills, shown just to the right of the weir, but the mills and factories of the industrial revolution have yet to be built.



Click images to enlarge
Map of Leeds, 1826
Map of Leeds, 1826
Map of canal basin, 1847
Map of canal basin, 1847
Canal Bridge and Office, 1951
Canal Bridge and Office, 1951
Aire and Calder Navigation Warehouse, 1829
Aire and Calder Navigation Warehouse, 1829
River Wharfs and St. Peter's Church, 1841
River Wharfs and St. Peter's Church, 1841
Waterfront, east, 1847
Waterfront, east, 1847
Waterfront, Leeds Dam, 1847
Waterfront, Leeds Dam, 1847
The Calls, 1909
The Calls, 1909
Bank Mills, 1999
Bank Mills, 1999
Leeds from the west, 1826
Leeds from the west, 1826
Leeds from the Knostrop Road, 1715
Leeds from the Knostrop Road, 1715




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