Decade by Decade

These are some of the highlights of some of the aquisitions, trips, and group workthat the Friends of Leeds City Museum have been involved with in the last four decades. For more detailed minutes for each year please see this word document: FLCM history.


  • FLCM started to hold meetings in January of 1971.
  • In 1971, Lady Harewood was offered and accepted the post of President.
  • Membership was stated to be 300 in 1971, a remarkable figure for a newly-formed Society.  It fluctuated between 200 and 300 members during the next ten years. In 1976, it was reported that the maximum would be 300-350. The overall theme for the year was how to increase membership. 
  • A weekend trip to Bath that was fully booked and excellently received, took place in October 1976.
  • In 1977, the Society presented a tankard and goblet to Leeds City Museum to commemorate Jubilee Year; however, there is no indication in the minutes of cost or a description.  The Society was asked to approve a spend of up to £200 at Sotheby’s on items from New Guinea to fill a gap in the Museum’s collection.
  • In 1979, a Chinese gong was purchased for the Museum for £380. 


  • In 1980, a £400 contribution was made towards the purchase of items for Leeds City Museum: a dinosaur egg, some dinosaur droppings (presumably fossilised) and a fossilised dinosaur bone.
  • In 1982, it was agreed to loan £337 to Armley Mills for the purchase of second hand rail track.
  • It was agreed to fund (£200) the cost of a model of Leeds Theatre Royal which had been obtained at auction.
  • The purchase of a 1936 Fowler’s of Leeds locomotive (‘Jack’) was approved; a grant of £375 was made, matched by a grant from the Science Museum.  It was hoped to have it running by the end of June 1984, to be marked by a ‘gala occasion’.
  • The first week-long trip (to the European Parliament and Baden-Baden) took place in 1983.
  • It was agreed to purchase audio equipment for recording an oral history of the Museum for its archives at a cost of ~£700, in 1984.
  • In 1985, A quote (£993-50 from the Friends and £203 from the Steadman Trust) had been received and accepted for the transfer of the Royal Coat of Arms (ex- County Court) to Abbey House Museum, but this was sold in 1987. 
  • It was also agreed in 1985, to purchase railway models from the Steadman Trust collection for Armley Mills: it was suggested that the Science Museum might contribute half the total.
  • In 1988, the National Westminster Bank were asked for and provided sponsorship towards the production of a book: ‘Of curiosities and rare things’, to be produced by the Society for its exhibition, related to Museums Year, 1989.  1,000 copies were produced.


  • The AGM held on 16 May 1990 agreed the change of name of the Society from ‘Friends of Leeds City and Abbey House Museums Society’ to ‘Friends of the Leeds City Museums’.
  • The first newsletter was produced in September 1990, highlighting Museum events and Society activities, visits and lectures.
  • Members regularly gave voluntary help at Abbey House Museum, in the form of care of the costume collection, organising and labelling ‘ephemeral’ material and photography of the mechanical musical instruments and Burmantofts pottery.
  • In 1990, the Friends agreed to contribute to the cost of buying the Marmion Estate collection of Burmantofts and Leeds pottery, which was for sale.  A Committee member, attending the Northern Antique Dealers’ Fair at Harrogate, bought a steel tobacco box, engraved with the name of William Williams, Clothmaker, of Hunslet, 1730.  The cost (£500) was reimbursed by the Friends and the object presented to the City Museum.
  • This was the most significant year so far for the Friends, in terms of donations to Leeds Museums.  In addition to the contribution to the purchase of Burmantofts pottery (see above), a further 5 donations were made, the most significant being contributions to a painting of old Leeds from Beeston Hill  by Fielding of Halifax and to a water colour by Eldridge of an officer in the Leeds volunteers.
  • In 1992, it was agreed to support the purchase of one of two 20th century Greek costumes for display at the City Museum.  A £1,000 grant for the purchase was received from the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Funds were provided for the purchase of an early 20th century Greek Sarakatsani (nomadic shepherd tribe) costume and of a 20th century Nigerian costume, for the City Museum.
  • In 1995, The Friends silver jubilee lunch was held at the Mansion, Roundhay Park.
  • The Friends agreed to donate at least £10,000 to the Abbey House redevelopment fund and members offered to pack exhibits prior to the work starting.  The City Council received £10,000 in later 2000.
  • In 1997, the Committee were shown the 1820 silver tankard, paid for by the Friends.  The tankard is engraved with the portico of the Mixed Cloth Hall and inscribed to the Leeds merchant and writer, J Biscoff Esq.  Funding was allocated to the production of a set of replica Victorian costumes for Armley Mills.
  • In 1999, a number of donations were made to the Museums Service, including the restoration of a harp at Lotherton Hall, the conservation of a wedding dress at Abbey House Museum and the repair of a cinema double love-seat and the water wheel at Armley Mills.  It was also agreed to contribute to a blue plaque to mark the original site of the City Museum.


  • Support was agreed for an exhibition at Armley Mills: ‘Building Sights’.  The Friends donated nearly £20,000 to the Museums Service during the year 2000.
  • A number of donations were made to the Museums Service, in 2001, including contributions towards the repair of a pianola at Armley Mills, the production of a plaque to mark the original site of the City Museum, the Going, Going, Gone’ exhibition at Leeds Central Library and the provision of a bench for the ‘streets’ at Abbey House.
  • No lectures were arranged in 2002, as a result of poor attendances the previous year.  After over thirty years of lectures, there were no further ones.  To compensate, the programme of trips was extended.
  • In 2003,  a contribution was made towards the purchase of 2 silver chalices, originally bought for Leeds’ first congregational church.
  • Following a fall in membership to under 300 in 2000, the total had risen to nearly 400, in 2003.
  • Gifts to the Museums service, in 2005, included nearly £1,400 for a display cabinet at Abbey House and a contribution of over £500 towards the purchase of a collection of Leeds creamware, for display at the new Museum.
  • The Head of the Museum service revived the regular meetings with the FLCM to help with the planning of the new City Museum. The chairman met the Head of Leeds Heritage Service to discuss the Leeds Gallery in the City Museum: it was felt that there was too little emphasis on the recent history of Leeds, on heavy industry, transport innovation or on the textile, clothing and locomotive industries and that the whole underplayed the success of the city.
  • It was agreed to support the repair of the locomotive ‘Jack’ at Armley Mills: up to £12,000 was promised.  In the event, over £15,000 was donated, although this was not paid until 2008.
  • The bank balance of the Friends continued to be healthy and the Hon Treasurer commented that not enough money was being spent.  However, over £1,300 was donated for conservation work on items (engravings, prints, posters) to be displayed in the new Museum. 
  • Fears were expressed at the relatively low level of membership of the Friends and the possible effect of this on trips.  There were also, at this stage, 5 vacancies on the Executive Committee.
  • Over £15,000 was provided towards the overdue restoration of the engine ‘Jack’ at Armley Mills, while other donations included the purchase of an oil painting of Briggate (1873-80, signed ‘R Cooke’ and showing a man herding sheep past a horse-drawn tram), the restoration of a Broadwood piano at Temple Newsam and the re-siting of a 3,000 year old cup and ring stone from Temple Newsam to its original site in Horsforth. 
  • The Friends mounted an exhibition of activities to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the new City Museum, in 2009.
  • A grant of over £1,900 was awarded for the conservation of various works on paper (including a view of Leeds; an isometric view of the Royal Agricultural Show, held in Leeds; a western panoramic view of Leeds; a south east prospect of Leeds; a portrait of John Harrison). Further support was given for the restoration of an 18th century silk brocade dress.  More controversial was an award to commission a special hat (by Phillip Treacy), which contained wild bird feathers.  Other grants related to re-framing medals at Lotherton Hall and to providing new signage at Armley Mills.


  • Funds were provided for the purchase of a 1875 men’s dressing jacket to supplement the Museum and Galleries’ collection.  £5,000 was promised as a contribution to the restoration of the music Room at Lotherton Hall.  A similar sum was provided towards the purchase of the exciting Anglo Saxon gold hoard.  Money (well over £4,000) in the Friends’ account relating to the Rita Lila Howard, was transferred to fund an educational exhibition on textiles at Armley Mills.  Funding was also provided towards the conservation of more works on paper at Abbey House and for the purchase at auction of a dress collection by Worth.
  • In 2011, the Friends reached a significant milestone in its history, in passing the £100,000 mark in gifts to the Museums service.  Most of this went on objects and collections; however, other important contributions were made towards conservation and more mundane, yet significant grants were made (amongst others) for signage and a wheelchair
  • A number of grants were made, including £2,500 for Worth couture gowns, over £1,000 for conservation and framing of posters at Abbey House and, perhaps, most significantly, £7,500 towards the restoration of the drawing room at Lotherton Hall and £5,000 towards the purchase of the Saxon hoard of treasure.