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Industrial Development in South Leeds, 1790-1914

By E.J. Connell

Abstract

The industrial development of South Leeds in the nineteenth\ud century was mainly due to the introduction of factory-based\ud production. From villages dominated by clothiers producing\ud woollen cloth under the 'domestic system', Hunslet and\ud Holbeck grew into suburbs of the City of Leeds, distinguished by the dominance of factories of all kinds intermixed with acres of "working men's cottages" - back-to-back housing mainly.\ud \ud New industries replaced older established trades and new\ud methods were constantly introduced which fostered the further development of industry and a concomitant growth in\ud the work force and its supporting services.\ud \ud At the end of the eighteenth century there were already\ud several recently opened cotton mills south of the river,\ud but it was as a centre of flax-spinning that the area\ud developed during the first half of the nineteenth century.\ud As flax-spinning passed its peak the engineering industry\ud was expanding until by 1914 it was the major employer of\ud male labour in the district, with an international market,\ud for its products. There were other important trades which\ud developed during the century, chemicals, glass bottle\ud making, chromo-lithographic printing and brewing, but the\ud area had become peripheral as far as cloth-finishing,\ud dyeing and textile manufacture were concerned. The pottery\ud industry was dead and the expansion of tanning, with its associated boot and shoe-making, was chiefly to the north\ud of the river.\ud \ud Industrial development was primarily based on the steam\ud engine. In this respect Hunslet and Holbeck were most favourably located, with ample supplies of cheap coal and\ud boiler water, as well as engineering works producing steam\ud engines and boilers. These positive factors were further\ud reinforced by the availability of transport facilities of\ud all kinds and extensive areas of flat land which were\ud essential for the development of heavy engineering works. There was a significant relationship between the different\ud trades which encouraged complementary development. Initially\ud the access to supplies of raw materials and coal, as well as\ud to markets both near and far, was important in attracting\ud industry to the area. Within the area there were few specific factors affecting location except the paths of the\ud water courses and access to the existing transport network.\ud Industrial development in the out-townships did not follow\ud that of Leeds itself in detail, both Hunslet and Holbeck\ud had a character of their own derived from their evolution\ud as manufacturing areas with associated housing. \ud \ud By means of a gazetteer of industrial sites, outlining their\ud history and development during the period under review, the\ud impact of the individual entrepreneur is recognised and the\ud varying fortunes of the different businesses is charted as\ud they moved from one site to another according to their\ud prosperity

Publisher: Leeds University Business School
Year: 1975
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:1062

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