Buildings at Risk: The night the Lord Mayor saved Kirkstall’s Abbey Mills

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Abbey Mills. Photo: Mark Stevenson

Abbey Mills in Kirkstall is the latest building to be featured in Mark Stevenson’s ongoing series shining the spotlight on heritage at risk in West Leeds.

The plight of Abbey Mills has been well documented in The West Leeds Dispatch and I cannot help thinking that we need a Lord Mayor to take charge and save the Mills from ruin as was the case on the night of November 3rd 1799, writes Mark Stevenson.

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Threatened: Abbey Mills. Photo: Mark Stevenson

Upon hearing that there was a fire at Abbey Mills the Lord Mayor took charge of the fire engines and ‘made haste’ to the Mills.

Once there, the Mayor led from the front. His spirit and bravery were contagious, driving the men in their efforts to save the Mills (or the Mayor, who kept putting himself in harm’s way to save Abbey Mills).

History: Abbey Mills in Kirkstall. Phoito: Mark Stevenson

I’m not saying our current Lord Mayor should risk his life for Abbey Mills!

Just take a leaf out of the book of the Lord Mayor of Leeds who helped to save the Mills from fire his name – you may already have heard of – Benjamin Gott.


  1. Wow, reading of the Mills brings back memories when myself and my brother used to go and explore as kids. Many weekends and summer holidays we used to explore the cotton mill in Armley. We used to try and dodge the guy with his dog who lived in the house on the moors next to the mill.
    There was two floors plus a basement from what I remember, we wanted to venture down to the basement when we was kids but couldn’t as it was pitch black and was flooded with water at the time.
    Those times were fun, but sad to say that nothing is left of it now as it was vandalised and burnt down to the ground. You can’t even see that it was there. The grass has now grown over it, it looks pritty strange not to see what was anymore.
    Like where my family had moved to the places we used to venture to when we was kids have changed a lot since we have grown up. Armley especially, metal fencing around the flats, the old pop factory turned to an housing estate. Places have been flattened around my other grandparents houses. I often wonder if Leeds Council ever did find the house my brother and I had found it once back in the 70s before it was flattened. Shame such a shame as all our history is going, it only ever lives on paper now. I will never forget the day we found the house with tiger rug, living room looking immaculate and the straight through kitchen that the back garden was vertually not there. Just a door that swung back and forth in the wind, and a big drop down the hill. We should of looked upstairs but we dairnt as we didn’t know if the stairs would hold us.
    It’s nice to go back in time sometimes, but it’s never the same when you re visit a place.


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