It was once the jewel of industrial Leeds – but now the crumbling Temple Works is heading to the auction block with a price tag of just £1.
The Grade I-listed former flax mill was built in 1836 for industrialist and keen Egyptologist John Marshall. He enlisted brothers Joseph and Ignatius Bonomi the younger, and engineer James Combe to design a ‘temple’ of industry, modelled on the Typhonium at Dendera and Temple of Horus at Edfu in Egypt.
Temple Works’ elaborate design includes a 2-acre factory floor, once the ‘largest room in the world’, as well as ornate columns and façades decked in hieroglyphics.
Telegraph media group owners, the Barclay family, acquired the structure in 2004. It suffered a partial collapse in 2008 and featured on the Victorian Society’s endangered list in 2011, with restoration estimates spiralling past £20m.
In 2015 Burberry announced it would redevelop the colossal 117,843 sq ft structure as part of its new £50m UK manufacturing facility. But the fashion brand paused, then abandoned these ambitious plans earlier this summer, letting the option lapse amid Brexit uncertainty.
Temple Works will now go under the hammer on 7 December with no reserve – a move that is drawing criticism from Heritage campaigners.
Martin Hamilton, director of Leeds Civic Trust said: ‘There is now a real risk that a naive investor will purchase the building without the resources to spend on refurbishment – possibly upwards of £20m, leading to more years of neglect, planning and legal wrangles and quite possibly the final nail in the coffin for this building.’