Leeds began life as a small market town, which gradually became an important centre for the manufacture and marketing of wool and flax, weaving, tailoring and commerce. This heritage includes The White Cloth Hall in Kirkgate, opened in 1711 as the first covered market for the sale of undyed cloth by merchants from the surrounding areas. To the south of the city centre, the area around the Hol-beck, Globe Road and Water Lane, housed various mills and ancillary textile businesses, including imposing Marshall’s Mill. The impressive Temple Works sits at the heart of this area.
It was another flax mill built and operated by John Marshall, but unlike any that preceded it. Designed to enable all parts of the process to happen contiguously on one huge single floor-plate, Temple Works has a striking façade built in the Egyptian revivalist style and is the only Grade I listed building in Holbeck.
The role of Leeds in the clothing industry developed well into the twentieth century, as the base for Burton’s, providing high quality made-to-measure suits at a reasonable price in the 1950s and 1960s. The city also developed innovative financial skills to enable credit for post-war suit buying, which have helped the city become a major financial centre, home to many major banks and building societies.