Thwaite Mills

Thwaite Mills is an industrial museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It is a fully restored working water-powered mill built in 1823-25, harnessing the power of the River Aire, and claims to be "one of the best last remaining examples of a water-powered mill in Britain."[1] It is administered by Leeds City Council. The mill, the manager's house, and three associated buildings are all grade II listed buildings.

Thwaite mills
Thwaite Mills


The first known mill on the site was a fulling mill built in 1641, as part of the local industry of manufacturing woollen cloth.[2] In 1823–25 the Aire and Calder Navigation company acquired the mill and redeveloped the site. Two new large waterwheels were built, and the site comprised the mill building, the manager's house, stables, workshop, warehouse and workers' cottages. The cottages were demolished in 1968, but the other buildings remain intact today.[2]

The mill was used for a range of purposes. The firm of W and E Joy used it to crush seeds for lubricating and lighting oil, imported woods were crushed for the dyeing industry, and the Horn family, who took over the mill in 1872, used it to crush flint and china stone for the pottery industry and to grind chalk to make "whiting" for industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to whitewash, then barytes for the paint industry, and until 1975 for the production of putty.[3]

Set on an island between the River Aire and the Aire and Calder Navigation, the mill was as self-sufficient as its owners could make it: there were workshops, orchards, arable land and pasture, and the mill did not get an electricity supply until 1986,[4] instead generating their own power from the two water wheels and a Marshall engine which was purchased to power the Raymond Mill in the 1930s.


In January 1975 the weir burst and the waterwheels stopped turning. The Thwaite Mills Society was formed by volunteers in 1976 to preserve and restore this important site, and received financial support from the then West Yorkshire County Council. The river weir was rebuilt, and the museum opened in 1990.[4] It is now run by Leeds City Council in partnership with Yorkshire Water.[5]

As well as the functioning waterwheels, the mill contains a collection of machinery used at various times. Visitors are led on guided tours of the mill building. The manager's house has been restored to reflect life there in the 1940s, before electricity was installed, and is visited self-guided. The museum site includes a steam crane from 1946, and wildlife areas. A variety of special events are held at the museum.[6]


  1. ^ Leeds City Council. "Welcome to Thwaite Mills". Thwaite Mills. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  2. ^ a b Leeds City Council. "The Early Days". Thwaite Mills. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  3. ^ Leeds City Council. "Thwaite Industry". Thwaite Mills. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Thwaite Mills Leeds". VR Leeds. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  5. ^ Leeds City Council. "A mill museum". Thwaite Mills. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  6. ^ Leeds City Council. "Riverside Thwaite". Thwaite Mills. Retrieved 30 October 2009.

External links

Coordinates: 53°46′34″N 1°30′14″W / 53.7762°N 1.5040°W

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Colour Experience

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Educational workshops are provided for school groups.

Designation Scheme

The Designation Scheme is an English system that awards "Designated status" to museum, library and archive collections of national and international importance. The Scheme is administered by Arts Council England (ACE). As of 2018, 148 collections are officially designated, with 140 recognized as 'outstanding'. National museums are not eligible for Designated status.

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Ilkley Toy Museum

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Leeds University Boat Club

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List of museums in West Yorkshire

This list of museums in West Yorkshire, England contains museums which are defined for this context as institutions (including nonprofit organisations, government entities, and private businesses) that collect and care for objects of cultural, artistic, scientific, or historical interest and make their collections or related exhibits available for public viewing. Also included are non-profit art galleries and university art galleries. Museums that exist only in cyberspace (i.e., virtual museums) are not included.

To use the sortable table, click on the icons at the top of each column to sort that column in alphabetical order; click again for reverse alphabetical order.

Museum of Rail Travel

The Museum of Rail Travel at Ingrow, England is operated by the Vintage Carriages Trust (VCT), a charity based just north of Ingrow (West) railway station on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in West Yorkshire. Founded in 1965, it became a registered charity in 1981 and opened in 1990.

The Trust has provided railway carriages for over 70 films and television programmes.

Two of the steam locomotives owned by VCT - "Sir Berkeley" and "Bellerophon" have visited railways in the Netherlands. "Bellerophon" has also visited Belgium. "Sir Berkeley" is on loan to the Middleton Railway, Leeds. A third locomotive, Lord Mayor, an 0-4-0 saddle tank steam locomotive is on static display in the museum.

National Coal Mining Museum for England

The National Coal Mining Museum for England is based at the site of Caphouse Colliery in Overton, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. It opened in 1988 as the Yorkshire Mining Museum and was granted national status in 1995.

Otley Museum

Otley Museum is in the town of Otley, near Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. It holds a collection of objects, artefacts and documentary material relating to the development of Otley and the surrounding District since the prehistoric period. These include prehistoric stone tools and artefacts; an archaeological collection from the excavations of the Palace of the Archbishop of York at Otley; The Otley Printers' Engineers Collection; The Urban Development Archive, and an archive representing the Social History of Otley from the 18th Century onwards. The Otley Museum is independent, and managed and run entirely by volunteers.

Through early 2010, two rooms in the Otley Civic Centre housed the museum's eclectic collection of objects depicting the history of Otley and its surrounding District from prehistoric times through Anglo Saxon and Viking era, into the medieval period, and documenting its development from a rural community to a Victorian industrial town, and into the 20th century. When the museum had to vacate those rooms, these artefacts were placed in secure storage.The museum's documentary and photographic collection is now housed at

Otley Museum

Wellcroft House

Otley Cycle Club

Crow Lane


LS21 1TZ

Telephone 01943 468181

This documentary and photographic archive is open at the times published on the museum's website, which can be accessed from the external links section, below. Those who wish to view the archive are advised to phone or email with any enquiries.

Pontefract Museum

Pontefract Museum is a local museum in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England. The collections cover archaeology, archives, decorative and applied art, fine art, photographs and social history.

Royal Armouries Museum

The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, is a national museum which displays the National Collection of Arms and Armour. It is part of the Royal Armouries family of museums, the other sites being the Tower of London, its traditional home, Fort Nelson, Hampshire, for the display of its National Collection of Artillery, and permanent galleries within the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. The Royal Armouries is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.The Royal Armouries Museum is a £42.5 million purpose-built museum located in Leeds Dock that opened in 1996. Its collection was previously on display or in storage at the Tower of London where the Royal Armouries still maintains a presence and displays in the White Tower.As at all UK National Museums, entry is free, though certain extra attractions are charged for.

Rugby League Heritage Centre

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Shibden Hall

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One of its most notable residents was Anne Lister who inherited the hall from a relative. Lister has been described as being the first modern lesbian due to her many affairs with women in the 19th century.

Tourism in Leeds

Leeds in West Yorkshire, England is a tourist destination. It has received several accolades in the field of tourism; including being voted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine Readers' Awards as the "UK's favourite city" in 2004, "Best English city to visit outside London" in 2005, "Visitor city of the year" by The Good Britain Guide in 2005 and was described as a great place to visit by Rough Guide in 2008.

In the 2017 Condé Nast Traveler survey of readers, Leeds rated 6th among The 15 Best Cities in the UK for visitors. Lonely Planet named Leeds as one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2017.


Transperience was a short-lived museum of passenger transport located at Low Moor, in the south of Bradford in West Yorkshire, Northern England. It opened in July 1995, but closed only 2 years later in October 1997, with debts of over £1 million.

City of Bradford museums
Calderdale museums
Kirklees museums
City of Leeds museums
City of Wakefield museums

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