It’s a mural we’ve seen many times from the train on the way from London to Leeds. This Christmas we finally got to see the giant mural called ‘True North’ up close. Nestled on the side of an old industrial unit on the side of the tracks. It pays tribute to the mill workers of Leeds.
A collaborative piece between the Nomad Clan and Tankpetrol. We’ve featured the work of all the artists previously here on the blog. Most notably, in recent months we focused on the Nomad Clan’s other huge Leeds mural. This towers over the city station and is currently the country’s tallest.
Mill Workers Mural in Holbeck
This piece, a little further out in the former industrial suburb of Holbeck, is a little smaller but still huge. It pays tribute to the mill workers of the city who would have known this area well. All around there are signs of the areas past. A mixture of beaten old industrial buildings nestled amongst pockets of attempted regeneration.
Depicting the portraits of two men. The section from the Nomad Clan is actually a tribute to one of the artists grandfathers. Known as Jimmy Boy, he was a spinner in Rochdale, just over the Pennines. Starting in the trade when he was just 10 years old. He and others of his generation would have worked in conditions unfathomable to people now. The looming dark mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire were no place for children. They could be brutal working places for anyone working there.
The story is explained in detail over on the Nomad Clan blog. There the artists explain. “We came across an amazing photograph of him whilst hanging out at her sister’s house and immediately knew it needed painting”. Both members of the Nomad Clan have roots going back to mill working. They’ve been known to pay tribute to this period of history before. Another such mural is located in Blackburn and was created as part of the open walls project in that town.
The other part of the mural from the Manchester based Tankpetrol depicts John Marshall. The owner of Temple Mill. It was once the largest flax mill in England. The design of the building was based on the Temple of Horus at Edfu in Egypt. The original facade of that building astonishingly still survives and can be found just around the corner. It’s the only grade I listed building in that area of the city and is quite a sight.
Marshall also had a reputation as a philanthropist. According to the Northern Voice blog he was one of the early champions for workers education and safety. He would support mill workers families by setting up places for children to stay and study whilst the parents worked.
So a lot to learn and see in these giant murals. Nestled in the midst of the former industrial heart of Holbeck. The pieces are a fitting reminder to the areas past as one of the engines of the country. Also to the northern people who struggled in towns and cities all over the area, to make it great.
‘True North’ the mural from the Nomad Clan and Tankpetrol was visited and photographed on 26 December 2017. It can be found in a car park just off Globe Lane in the Holbeck area of the city.
‘True North’ mural gallery
For more Inspiring City articles featuring street art in Leeds have a look at:
For more Inspiring City articles featuring works by Nomad Clan and Tankpetrol have a look at: