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Colour Me Kirkstall book mixes art and history for young and old

Review and photographs by Paul Abraham of

Introducing and encouraging art and local history to children can be a challenge for parents and teachers alike, however a new publication commissioned by the Kirkstall Valley Development Trust aims to change all that.

The “Colour Me Kirkstall” colouring book, written and illustrated by Kirkstall-based artist Holly Mills, has now been published and is sure to inspire both children and adults, as Holly has used her artistic mind and skills to help make local history more entertaining and fun instead of just being about facts and figures.

Holly Mills at Kirkstall Abbey.

The project was a collective of long-time residents of Kirkstall, the children of Kirkstall who helped explore local history through fun-filled activities on the Kirkstall Valley Farm and the Abbey House Museum to enable the book to appeal to people who may not normally participate in art or the reading of local history.

The book is superbly illustrated by Holly with information and stories being told in an easy going and entertaining way.  

Although the idea of “Colour Me Kirkstall” was to introduce and inspire children to art and local history, the book is by no means confined to young minds.  

As someone who has lived all his life within a fifteen minute walk from Kirkstall Abbey there were a number of things that I had not read or heard about before reading this publication.  

For example did you know that Kirkstall Forge was founded by the monks who built Kirkstall Abbey? And that Elizabeth “Betty” Beecroft was the determined and successful manager of the Forge from 1778-1785 which was completely unheard of for a woman in the 1700s, or that jam jars were accepted as entrance fees at the Abbey Picture House!

The book is a brilliant and unique way to become interested in both local history via the text and art through colouring the illustrations and is sure to be welcomed by art teachers especially ones looking to spark the interest in the young children of Kirkstall and beyond!

w colouring book

Kirkstall Valley Development Trust have donated a class set to each of the primary schools in the Kirkstall Ward including Hawksworth Wood Primary School, St Stephen’s Primary School, Beecroft Primary School, Sacred Heart Primary School, Kirkstall Valley Priary School and Burley St Matthias Primary School and the initial feedback has been very positive from the schools some of whom have made requests for further copies.

Adele Rae, CEO at KVDT, said:

“We were absolutely delighted to receive the Coop Community Funding which has enabled us to produce this history resource and colouring book.

“Kirkstall Valley Development Trust is committed to promoting the Kirkstall Valley and supporting and empowering its people so this project has ticked a lot of boxes. We are thrilled with what Holly who researched, wrote and illustrated it has achieved.

“Holly has been one of our committed volunteers for some time so it was fabulous to be able to give her this opportunity to help her to launch her new career as a Community Artist.”

The project was made possible by the Co-op Local Community Fund.

More information can be found via the KVDT website and its Facebook page.


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