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Joseph Watson and Sons, Whitehall Soap Works.
Founded in 1830 by Joseph Watson, the firm moved in 1861 to a site west of the Canal Basin, between Whitehall Road and the river. This was one of the largest soap works in England, employing around 750 people, and manufacturing six hundred tons of soap a week in 1893. They made brands such as 'Watson's Matchless Cleanser', and 'Venus Soap',and the firm was known as 'Soapy Joe's'.

The firm imported oil, resin and tallow, some of which was stored in the Dark Arches causing a disastrous fire there in 1892. They also made glycerine for dynamite manufacture, and dealt in hides and skins. Watson's was sold to Lever's in 1917, and became Elida Gibbs in 1971, although it was still known as 'Soapy Joe's'. It closed in 1987, when the company moved to a new site at Seacroft.

Tower Works
This was situated south of the canal just west of the Canal Basin, and was so-called because of its two towers built in the style of Italian campaniles. The smaller tower built in 1864, and designed by Thomas Shaw, is a copy of the 12th century campanile of the Palazo del Comune in Verona, and was built as a chimney. The larger tower, built by William Blackwell in 1899 to ressemble Giotto’s campanile of 1334 in Florence, was built to extract the fine metal dust produced during the manufacturing process. the picture shows the factory in 1892, before the second larger tower was built.

The firm was founded by T R Harding in 1829, and moved to this site in the early 1860s. They made steel pins for use in the textile industry, and the Harding gauge was the recognised standard classification system for pin sizes.  As well as making pins, the factory also made measuring instruments. The 'Ideal Counter' could count the number of items a machine produced, or could record production, for example of textiles or paper, in units of length. Harding tachometers, or speed indicators, were used on all types of marine and stationary engines, and also in manufacturing to measure the number of units made in a given time.

Colonel T.W Harding the son of the founder of the firm, made a considerable contribution to the cultural life of Leeds. He was a founder of the City Art Gallery, to which he gave several paintings, and he presented the statues which now stand in City Square. He owned Abbey House, which he refurbished.  The firm became Harding Rhodes & Co. in 1895, and continued operating until 1981.

Goodall Backhouse& Co.
The picture shows the waterside factory in 1888. Founded in 1853, by Mr. R Goodall, there were two factories in Leeds, one on White Horse Street, and the other on the waterfront, situated just to the east of Victoria Bridge. They were, in the words of a description written in 1893, makers of 'famous domestic specialities and culinary preparations’ such as the famous Yorkshire Relish, egg powder, baking powder, custard and blancmange powders and jelly.They also made stove black – 'Goodall's Brunswick Black' – and medicines like Goodall's Quinine Wine.  The firm carried on trading until 1995.

Tetley's Brewery
In 1746 William Tetley was a maltster in Armley. His son William expanded the business, which passed to his son Joshua.  In 1822, Joshua Tetley leased a brewery in Salem Place, Hunslet from William Sykes. He was taking a risk, as the brewing industry was going through a bad time. But despite losses in his first year, his determination and emphasis on quality meant that the business prospered. Joshua died in 1859, leaving the business to his son Francis William, who took on a partner, Charles Ryder.  By 1864 Joshua Tetley and Son were able to buy the old Sykes Brewery, and embark on an ambitious building scheme. They engaged the architect George Corson to design and build new maltings, cellars, hop store and fermenting room. In 1890 the firm opened their first public house, the Duke William, and in 1892 the brewery began supplying bottled beer. In 1897 Tetley's became a public limited company. The business continued to thrive throughout the twentieth century, and in 1961 became a member of Allied Breweries, (now Allied Lyons). A new packaging plant was opened in 1986, and in 1989, a new brewhouse costing £10million was built.

Wright Bros. Corn Millers, The Calls
Founded in 1828, moved to the Calls in 1887. They manufactured flour and corn meal. Boats were loaded and unloaded directly from the mill, which fronted onto the river. The picture shows a crane on the wharf unloading grain from barges moored in the river. In 1991 the mill was converted into a luxury hotel, '42, The Calls'.

Fox and Atkinson, Kirk Ings, The Calls
Founded in 1846, by J T Pearson the firm made artificial manures, and animal feeds, and sold agricultural seeds. The factory was housed in a five story warehouse in the Calls, with a wharf at the back for loading and unloading of goods from barges on the river. In 1988 the Design and Innovation Centre was built on this site.

Boyes and Leach and David Speight & Sons

Boyes and Leach were stone merchants with premises on the southern bank of the canal opposite the Canal Basin. Their advertisement appears in early 20th century trade directories, and shows the busy wharf, and a barge laden with large slabs of stone. The canal office of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company and part of the Leeds lock are shown on the extreme right of the advertisement.


Click images to enlarge
Whitehall Soap Works, 1893
Whitehall Soap Works, 1893
Advertisement for Venus soap, 1892
Advertisement for Venus soap, 1892
Tower Works,1892
Tower Works,1892
Harding, Rhodes and Co., products, 1926
Harding, Rhodes and Co., products, 1926
Tower Works, 1999
Tower Works, 1999
Goodall, Backhouse and Co., 1888
Goodall, Backhouse and Co., 1888
Tetley's Brewery, 1893
Tetley's Brewery, 1893
Wright Bros, Corn Millers, 1888
Wright Bros, Corn Millers, 1888
Fox and Atkinson, 1893
Fox and Atkinson, 1893
Boyes and Leach, 1912
Boyes and Leach, 1912




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