LEEDS ENGINES OF EMPIRE

‘Leeds Engines of Empire’, with John McGoldrick is the fifth talk in the Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Series on ‘Railways across the Commonwealth’ (Autumn 2023).

The city of Leeds is perhaps not as well-known as it should be as an industrial powerhouse. A major engine of the city’s prosperity was the railway locomotive building sector. Exports to former British and other colonies filled company order books as domestic markets became increasingly saturated. Leeds products fuelled Empire building projects in the areas of docks and harbours, extraction of natural resources and the movements of military forces. The talk will highlight how colonial orders helped shape the communities and urban fabric of the colonial metropolis. The talk will also examine the areas of specialisation covered by individual companies and chart the journeys of specific locomotives, including the return to the UK from India of the John Fowler locomotive ‘Cheetal’. The talk addresses case studies evidencing the human aspects of Leeds’ railway connections with former colonial territories.

John is Curator of Industrial History at Leeds Museum and Galleries. A major engine of Leeds’ prosperity was the railway locomotive building sector and exports to former British and other colonies filled company order books. John’s talk will chart the journeys of specific locomotives, evidencing the human aspects of Leeds’ railway connections with former colonial territories.

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