Leeds Civic Trust

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Benjamin Gott - People's Plaque




Looking through the Trust's 163 Blue Plaques, it is great to see so many familiar and notable people that have contributed to Leeds, however, there are one or two that we would dearly like to see, but due to a variety of reasons, they have eluded us. However, this Civic Day, we hope to address this by launching a special 'People's Plaque' campaign.

As a person who contributed enormously towards the City's growth and its international reputation for cloth making, we would like to honour Benjamin Gott with a Blue Plaque.

How can I sponsor this plaque? 

We have a Just Giving page - donations can start from as little as £2. Click here to donate. 

Who was Benjamin Gott? 

 

 

Born in Calverley into a family of masons and builders and educated at Bingley Grammar School, Gott obtained an apprenticeship to the leading Leeds cloth merchants, Wormald and Fountain. Benjamin Gott's subsequent rise was meteoric, owing as much to good fortune as to hard work. Both senior partners died suddenly, leaving sons too young to join the business, so in 1790, ten years after joining, Benjamin became senior partner.

In 1792 he purchased Bean Ing a small meadow on the western outskirts of Leeds (former Yorkshire Post site) and there proceeded to build Park Mills, the largest woollen factory in the West Riding. He also bought what is now Armley Mills Industrial Museum as well as a smaller factory in Burley. By 1797 he employed 1200 workers and in the years 1800 to 1820 he was thought to be one of the largest employers in England. So vast was his mill's capacity he could supply whole armies with uniforms and the quality of his cloth was beyond reproach and admired by the Prince Regent who visited Leeds in 1805.

In 1790 Benjamin Gott married Elizabeth Rhodes of Wentbridge. To accommodate his family he leased the Armley Estate from Thomas Woolrich and bought it in 1803. The grounds were landscaped by Humphrey Repon and he employed Robert Smirke (1780-1867) a leading country house architect to remodel the house in the Greek Revival style. The house provided excellent accommodation for his family and outstanding collections of paintings and sculpture. The house now serves as the clubhouse for the Gott's Park Golf Club.  

Gott made a large fortune, and he reinvested much of it back into improving his mills and buying new ones. He also founded almshouses in Armley, became Mayor of Leeds in 1799, and presided over the founding of the Leeds Philosophical & Literary Society in 1819.

You can donate towards the plaque by visiting our Civic Day stall in the Merrion Centre, between 11am and 3pm on Saturday 17 June. Donations from a  £1, and those donating will have their names featured on our website and published on the unveiling day. yYou will also be able to donate via our website, following the 17 June launch.