Mark’s History: Kirkstall Viaduct (the best looking in Leeds?)

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Kirkstall Viaduct. Photo: Mark Stevenson

As mills go, Temple Mill in Holbeck has to be one of the best looking in Leeds, writes Mark Stevenson.

Temnple Works in Holbeck. Photo: Mark Stevenson

Its look is said to be based on the temple at Antaeopolis and Temple of Horus at Edfu in Egypt.

It is said that the main building was the largest single room in the world when it was first opened in the 1840s and remained so until Crystal Palace was built for the Great Exhibition 13 years later.

Historic Kirkstall Viaduct. Photo: Mark Stevenson

The mill was owned by the Marshall family. One of them, Henry Cowper Marshall, was chairman of the Leeds and Thirsk Railway company.

When the company announced its intended location for the new Headingley Railway Station he told them along with Christopher Beckett, a director of the company, to think again.

There was no way they were having a railway line at the bottom of their garden. So the station was built in Kirkstall but still called Headingley Station, even though it was a mile or so up the road.

Photo: Mark Stevenson

Just like in the old cowboy films, it is a time of opportunity when the railroad comes to town and, most importantly, a chance for people to get rich or richer.

The feelgood factor did not last long because a viaduct was planned and it was thought people wanting to get away from the city would not wish to live near it. So ‘affordable’ housing and factories were built instead. The viaduct in question is Kirkstall Viaduct (best looking in Leeds) built in 1849.

Spanning the River Aire: Kirkstall Viaduct. Photo: Mark Stevenson

One thing I have always wondered about Viaduct Road is where it gets its name from. Is it from the very obvious Kirkstall Viaduct or is it from the less obvious viaduct underneath the road?


  1. Dear Mr. Stevenson,
    This is a short – but sweet – paragraph to inform you that it was with sheer joy and pleasure that I read your words and devoured the images of Kirkstall Viaduct and the glorious picture of Temple Works. [Please Tell me that it is MORE than a facade – of Temple-Works . Has some friendly and generous group been able to make use of the inside. I am sure you are busy but a short paragraph would suffice to inform me that it has a New Life. [I could – of-course research myself – but – Sydney [Australia] is playing on a very Sticky-Wicket at the moment and my focus does not allow me as much time as I would like. I was a Loiner – Lived at 32 Woodbridge Crescent, Leeds LS6 3LN. I departed – on my Mick Malone to arrive in Sydney 20th October – 1973 – aged 3 months short of my 18th birthday. [The day the Opera House was Opened] . Again – Thank You Very Much. Hope you and all of Your House are all coping and well. John Farndale.


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