So it’s great news that these landmarks are to pass to the City, in perpetuity.-along with the Engine House and Little Chimney, also at Tower works, Globe Road.
These buildings are an iconic part of Leeds’ past. The Works were built in the 1860s by the Harding family, who were manufacturers of steel pins for carding and combing machines in the textile industry. The towers – built over a period stretching into the 1920s – were originally chimneys and filter systems. They deliberately copied Italian models – Giotto’s great bell-tower in Florence, Verona’s thirteenth-century Lamberti bell tower, and, finally, the towers of San Gimignano – a town which retains the towers once common in all medieval Italian cities.
These towers reflected a civic pride built on industries like textiles – one which united nineteenth-century northern towns like Leeds and their medieval Italian counterparts. The Giotto tower is decorated with Burmantofts tiles, from the famous local pottery works. And the Engine room’s tiled interior has portraits of heroes of the textile past – inventors of textile machinery like Arkwright, Cartwright, and the Hardings themselves. It seems very appropriate that EU regional Development money contributed to the preservation of these Italianate buildings.
Thanks to a decision taken last week, these buildings will pass to the Council by the end of March. The Homes and Communities Agency currently own them. They will now be placed in a trust, to maintain them in perpetuity. And they’ll come complete with a dowry to provide for their upkeep. They will form a fitting centre piece of the redeveloped Holbeck Urban Village.
The Towers and Works are a central part of Leeds’ – and so of all of our – heritage.
The Council is to be congratulated on its decision to secure public control of them on our behalf.