Thursday, 8 April 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Benjamin Gott (1762-1840)

Yesterday we showed the mill, today the man responsible for it.

Born in Calverley, son of an engineer & county surveyor, he was apprenticed to Wormald & Fountaine, woollen merchants, in 1780. In 1792 he built Bean Ings, the first proper woollen factory in Leeds, which seven years later was seriously damaged by fire. Armley Mills was also damaged by fire when he was tenant so the rebuilding, carried out by Charles Bage, was of fire-proof construction, one of the earliest in England and the oldest surviving in Yorkshire.

Gott made a large fortune, ploughing much back of it into his mills but also founding almshouses in Armley, collecting art works and presiding over the founding of the Leeds Philosophical & Literary Society in 1819. He was Mayor of Leeds in 1799.

In 1803 Gott bought the estate now known as Gott's Park and rebuilt the present mansion on the site of a much older building. From 1904 to 1924 the house and grounds were used as a sanatorium, first by Leeds Association for the Prevention and Cure of Tuberculosis and afterwards by the City Council's Health Committee. The estate was later bought by the trustees of Wade's Charity which bought and presented several open spaces to Leeds corporation for use as parks. On the opening day Sir Arthur Copson Peake, Chairman of the Trustees, handed over the estate to the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Alderman George Ratcliffe. The house is now a golf clubhouse.

Courtesy of the internet there are many websites showing that his ancestors are alive and well and researching the family tree.

Betty Laycock hand stitched the piece in 21 hours.

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