• More than one million pounds has been awarded by Historic England in two grants to support urgent repairs at the iconic Grade I listed Temple Works in Leeds.
  • Famous for its striking Egyptian architecture and stories of sheep grazing on the roof, the Victorian textile site has been given a £636,000 grant from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of the Culture Recovery Fund, for work to secure the roof of the former spinning mill.
  • A further £400,000 grant from Historic England’s Yorkshire region will fund urgent repairs to the Counting House, with its grand Egyptian temple façade, which will then showcase plans to turn the site into a new home for the British Library in the North of England.
  • Both grants will support wider repair work on the Temple Works site, part of an exciting new chapter for the area and the vision of developer CEG, Leeds City Council and the British Library.
  • The funding supports ambitious plans to re-develop Temple Works, including the vision of establishing it as a permanent new public space for the British Library in Leeds, with significant benefit to the local economy.
  • To download high res images and drone film footage click here

Legendary Leeds landmark Temple Works – famous for its striking Egyptian architecture and stories of sheep grazing on the roof – has been awarded more than £1 million in two grants from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund and Historic England.

Temple Works, the Grade I listed former flax spinning mill in Holbeck, will undergo major repairs as part of an exciting new chapter in the regeneration of the building and surrounding area.

Money from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund is intended to open-up heritage and the benefits it brings to everyone – with this injection of funding supporting wider repair work on the Temple Works site, creating a new home for the British Library in the North.

A £636,000 grant from the Heritage Stimulus Fund – part of the Culture Recovery Fund and administered by Historic England – will support repairs to the spinning Mill, once claimed to be the largest indoor space in the world.

One of the first, large-scale single-storey factories, the vast brick-vaulted, top-lit, spinning mill was constructed in 1838-40 to the designs of the engineer James Coombe.

Here, the Victorian mill owners hoisted sheep onto the roof to graze on grass grown to maintain humidity in the building – reportedly to stop the flax from breaking – creating a spectacle that drew visitors from far and wide.

Money from the Heritage Stimulus Fund will contribute to work to prop up the interior of the mill, on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2008, until permanent repairs can be undertaken.

A further £400,000 award from Historic England’s Yorkshire region will fund rescue work on the neighbouring Counting House building.

Designed to impress, the Counting House provided office space for the owners of John Marshall and Company’s, as well as board members and clerks. Now as then, visitors are greeted by its towering lotus columns and walls decorated with Egyptian motifs and hieroglyphics.

Historic England’s funding will support crucial repairs to the roof and walls, making the building watertight before the next phase of refurbishment.

A recent report commissioned by Historic England revealed there are over 230 vacant and under-used mills in Yorkshire. Breathing new life into mills, like Temple Works, is part of Historic England’s ambition to improve environmental sustainability and unlock the potential of these historic buildings.

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Our Culture Recovery Fund is about safeguarding jobs while also making sure our precious heritage is open to everyone and protected for future generations. I’m delighted to announce new funding to restore Leeds’ iconic Temple Works which will rejuvenate this fantastic building and kickstart a new chapter in the area’s cultural history.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, said: “We are thrilled to provide funding from the Culture Recovery Fund and Historic England towards the repair of Temple Works, an instantly recognisable building which was an important part of Leeds’s industrial past and is set to play a key role in its future. It’s exciting to see the possibilities for Temple Works taking shape, highlighting the amazing potential of historic mills in Yorkshire to drive economic and social benefits for the region.”

David Hodgson, Head of Strategic Development at CEG, said: “The grants are fantastic news and will help to kick start the much-needed stabilisation works. We are grateful to Historic England and our other partners for recognising the importance of Temple Works as we seek to protect it and create a cultural gem for the city of Leeds.”

Roly Keating, British Library Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that the Culture Recovery Fund and Historic England are providing vital funding to support urgent repairs to the historic Temple Works mill in Leeds. The British Library has major ambitions to expand and enrich our offering to audiences across the north of England and this funding is not only an important step towards securing the future of Temple Works, but also enables us to further explore the potential for the site as a home for the British Library in Leeds.”

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate, said: “This is a bold and ambitious project which will repurpose an important part of our city’s heritage and help drive wider regeneration in Leeds’s South Bank area and beyond. This new funding is welcome and will enable progress to be made on the plans at Temple Works, including much-needed repair work to the Counting House. This comes after Leeds City Council last year approved the injection of an initial £5m worth of funding, secured through the West Yorkshire devolution deal, to support urgent works to stabilise the building.”


Temple Works is an important part of the story of Leeds’s industrial past and captures its spirit of energy and innovation.

It marked the high point of John Marshall and Company’s flax business in Leeds, where textile production was a huge driver of economic growth, as well as wealth, for the city’s industrial elite.

Based on the Temple of Edfu, its striking Egyptian styling has been attributed to Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi and the artist, David Roberts. It creates a symbolic link between the Yorkshire building and business and the importance of the flax industry in the ancient world.

Over the years Temple Works was occupied by successive textile and clothing companies, including most recently the Kay & Co mail order catalogue business. It has now been vacant for years.

The repairs to Temple Works mark the start of an exciting new chapter for the building, part of the exciting vision for the site which sees its owner, property company CEG, collaborating with the British Library and Leeds City Council to create a new home for the British Library in the North of England at Temple Works.

This public space would make the library’s collections and services more accessible to communities across the region and be an anchor point for CEG’s wider development plans for Temple, a new district in the city.

The Counting House repairs and refurbishment are projected to be complete in time for Leeds 2023, the city’s Year of Culture.

It will become a hub for the wider British Library project – providing a physical base to showcase plans and keep local communities up to date.

For further information, contact: Julia Haran, Historic England, Public Engagement Manager for the North East & Yorkshire, at or mobile 07776 160774.

• To download high res images and drone footage click here

Click on the “I” in the top right-hand corner of each image for the caption.

About the Culture Recovery Fund

● The government’s record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest ever one-off cash injection into UK culture. Since the start of the pandemic, grant have helped tackle the crisis facing the country’s most loved arts organisations and heritage sites.
● The Heritage Stimulus Fund is part of the Culture Recovery Fund and is administered by Historic England on behalf of the government.

About Historic England

● We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

About Leeds City Council

● Leeds City Council, as the economic development regeneration agency for Leeds, is working with CEG to facilitate the restoration of Temple Works in line with the city’s ambitions. The council is a principal grant funder, local planning authority and local highways authority for the scheme and is also an adjoining landowner of eight acres of land at Temple Works.

● The new announcement follows Leeds City Council’s approval last year of £5m worth of funding – secured through the West Yorkshire devolution deal – for the programme of temporary stabilisation at Temple Works.

● The council, in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, is supporting the delivery of this work, which aims to ensure the building is structurally ready for a full restoration. The plan for the site forms part of a longer-term regeneration strategy for both Temple Works and Leeds’s wider South Bank area.

About the British Library

● We are the national library of the UK and we are here for everyone. Our shelves hold over 170 million items – a living collection that gets bigger every day. Although our roots extend back centuries, we aim to collect everything published in the UK today, tomorrow and far into the future. Our trusted experts care for this collection and open it up for everyone to spark new discoveries, ideas and to help people do incredible things.

● We have millions of books, and much more besides. Our London and Yorkshire sites hold collections ranging from newspapers and maps to sound recordings, patents, academic journals, as well as a copy of every UK domain website and blog. Our public spaces provide a place to research, to meet friends, to start up a new business or simply to get inspired by visiting our galleries and events. We work with partners and libraries across the UK and the world to make sure that as many people as possible have the chance to use and explore our collections, events and expertise. And we’re always open online, along with more and more of our digitised collection.



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