A visit to ‘Kirkstall Forge’ – an exhibition at Armley Mills

The physical exhibits are eclectic. Here a satchel with brass plates showing ownership by a succession of the Butler family. Then a letter dated 1824 mixing business and family matters. Then a hub cap from the axel of a horse drawn cart - staple production of the forge at the time. Photo: Ivor Hughes

By Ivor Hughes

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills plugs itself as being a museum of 1,000 trades.

One of those trades, iron forging, is the subject of a small though well researched exhibition – Hammer Heart: Seven Centuries of Kirkstall Forgerunning until 8 October.

The exhibition acknowledges the creation of a forge in the thirteenth century by the Cistercian monks at Kirkstall Abbey.

What a curious item! Ambrose Butler and Isabella Holgate exchanged love letters between 1837 and their marriage in 1841. Their son Hugh collated them and published this book privately in 1939. Original copies are available from online sellers for between £30 and £60. Photo: Ivor Hughes

Though it focuses mainly on the post-industrial incarnation under the ownership and innovation of six generations of the Butler family in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The exhibition was facilitated by Aleks Fagelman (museum staff) and is being co-curated by local volunteers.

Open Tuesday to Friday and Bank Holiday Mondays 10am-5pm, weekends 12pm-5pm.


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