Leeds & Bradford’s Industrial Heritage

A fascinating day around Leeds and Bradford where we bring to life bye gone days of Leeds and Bradford when they really were big powers in the wool & textile industry.

From the early 18th century Leeds became an important trading centre for woollen cloth from the West Riding. The Aire and Calder Navigation had just opened allowing cloth to be more easily transported to the River Ouse then River Humber where it could be exported abroad. By 1770s one-third of England’s exports were woollen cloth. One-sixth of these were handled by Leeds merchants.

Leeds had four cloth halls by the end of the 18th century and we will be able to visit one of the remaining buildings as well as see Briggate where the rich merchants lived and based their warehouses.

Purchased cloth was often finished in Leeds in the finishing shops behind the houses of merchants – this process accounted for two-thirds of the cloth’s value.

In the 19th century with the growth of the railways and its rapidly growing worsted industry, Bradford became an important raw wool trading centre. Its Wool Exchange was built in the 1860s. Wool is still traded in the city today by the British Wool Marketing Board which has its headquarters in Bradford. Large players in the 19th century Bradford textile industry included mill owners Sir Titus Salt and Samuel Lister.

We will visit Bradford and see the Wool Exchange one of the grandest buildings in Yorkshire and take a stroll around the once vibrant area of Little Germany where foreign merchants built their warehouses and competed over whose was the grandest.

From here we will head to Bradford Industrial Museum, an old mill with exhibitions on spinning and weaving with actual steam powered machinery.

Finally, we will end the tour at Saltaire to see Salts Mill, once the largest factory in the world with its model village built for its employees. Now home to independent shops and a David Hockney art gallery.

This is an action-packed day, but we are completely flexible if you want to miss out a stop or spend more time in one location.