Share your memories of city’s historic flooding

Leeds, Leeds Star

Communities in Leeds are being asked to share their photos and memories of last year’s devastating Boxing Day floods for a new exhibition.

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills is calling on residents to help put the exhibition together, which will focus the impact of the floods as well as the community spirit the city showed during the unprecedented clean-up effort.

The exhibition will launch at the end of the year to mark the first anniversary of the floods and curators are currently looking for pictures and stories from those who were affected and who pitched in to help get the city back on its feet.

The museum itself was one of the sites that felt the full force of the deluge, with parts of the historic former mill submerged under eight feet of water.

The flooding forced the building, once the largest woollen mill in the world, to close for almost three months while staff and volunteers undertook a massive clean-up.

Thwaite Mills in Stourton was also extensively damaged by the floods, with firefighters called to help secure canal boats on the nearby Thwaite moorings.

After both sites had reopened, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at Leeds Industrial Museum in May as a permanent reminder of their remarkable recovery.

Sarah Barton, keeper at both sites, said: “All of us at Leeds Industrial Museum and Thwaite Mills have mixed emotions when we remember the Boxing Day floods.

“On the one hand, seeing the damage the flood waters caused was devastating as both museums are full of so much local history and are part of the fabric of Leeds.

“But on the other, we also have many good memories of the amazing spirit and togetherness staff and volunteers showed as we all pitched in to get the museums up and running again.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how other people in Leeds remember the floods and capturing what they meant to the city.”

Leeds Industrial Museum was also hit by the “Great Flood” of 1866, an event which is already marked by a plaque on the site and through items and images in the museum’s collection.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The Boxing Day floods were an unprecedented event for Leeds and it’s fitting that we commemorate the impact they have had on those living and working in our city.

“Whilst the floods caused a shocking amount of damage and disruption for our businesses and communities, they also showed just how strong, determined and compassionate the people of Leeds are.

“As we reflect on the legacy the floods left behind, it’s important that we recognise just how pivotal that sense of community spirit and resilience was in helping the city to recover.”

Anyone with images or stories they think might be included in the exhibition can contact Chris Sharp, assistant community curator at Thwaite Mills and Armley Mills, by emailing christopher.sharp@leeds.gov.uk