Exported across the globe, they were the extraordinary engines which helped power Leeds to the summit of industrial excellence.

But their unrivalled efficiency was also harnessed to support the growth of huge mining, railway and forced labour operations in hundreds of colonial territories.

Now, thanks to an innovative partnership project at Leeds Industrial Museum, new light is being shed on the complex legacy of the city’s world famous machines.

Through a fascinating collection of archive material and images, curators at the Armley Museum and historians at Heritage Corner are working together to re-examine the many different ways Leeds-made locomotives and engines were used.

Exporting engineering and railway products had enabled Leeds companies to amass vast fortunes over hundreds of years, which in turn boosted the growth and success of the city as an industrial hub.

John McGoldrick, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of Industrial History, said: “Leeds quite rightly has a long and proud history as an industrial trailblazer and a city which led the way in invention and innovation.

“By using the knowledge and resources we have today and working with organisations like Heritage Corner, we can acknowledge the different and contrasting aspects of our city’s heritage and present a more balanced and complete picture to our visitors.”

Already housed at the museum is Leeds locomotive Aldwyth, twinned with another Manning Wardle locomotive Nellie which was built for the Sierra Leone Government Railway in 1915. The museum has previously worked with Heritage Corner to explore those links and the historic African presence in Yorkshire.

Each Leeds Museums and Galleries site has social distancing and hygiene measures in place and booking in advance at some sites is essential. New visitor routes are also in place and some venues have limited access to some areas ensure visitor safety.

Booking is not required at Leeds Industrial Museum and entry is just a pound for those with an LS12 postcode, available with proof of address such as a recent utility bill, passport or driver’s license.

More details of arrangements at individual sites, advice for visitors and details about how to book can be found at: https://museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk/reopening-information/

Main picture shows Fowler Traction Engine used during the Boer War

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