Often, when people write about Yorkshire, their articles are illustrated by photographs of sheep. There are lots of sheep in Yorkshire and the county was, at one time, at the forefront of the woollen industry. But this is a bit of a strange one…
Many years ago, every day on my way to work I used to drive past Temple Works in Holbeck, Leeds. I was quite amazed by the Victorian building – it was so Egyptian in style – but I’d heard that during that era, sheep (yes, sheep!) used to graze on the flat roof. Actually it was true.
These days the building is derelict and its future is uncertain but for the moment, you can still see it. And if you’re visiting Leeds – or indeed, Yorkshire – then Temple Works is well worth visiting.
Let’s get the sheep out of the way first. The building was erected as a factory to product flax. (Hence its Egyptian feel – flax was a product of ancient Egypt). It was revolutionary for its day, being built in the middle of the nineteenth century. One reason was the fact that the working area was lit by a series of glass domes on the roof – yes, solar power.
In order to keep the flax moist, an essential evidently, it was decided that the roof should be grassed and in order to mow it and keep it respectable, sheep were grazed there. This is true! Also true (according to Wikipedia) is the fact that sheep ‘are not able to use stairs’ so a hydraulic lift was installed to transport them to the roof.
I honestly don’t blame you if you think that I am a) dreadfully drunk and b) completely inventing this, but I assure you that it’s absolutely true.
Several industrialists in Yorkshire created working environments that benefitted their workers (such as Saltaire) and Temple Works was no exception. The cellars beneath the factory area housed amenities for workers to enjoy.
Leeds is a fantastic place and I recommend it for hundreds of reasons – now you have another 🙂
HOW TO FIND TEMPLE WORKS
Leeds LS11 9YJ,
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.