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British Industrial History

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Benjamin Gott

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Benjamin Gott (1762-1840).

of Benjamin Gott and Sons

Benjamin Gott (24 June 1762 -14 February 1840) was one of the leading figures in the industrial revolution, in the field of textiles. His factory at Armley Mills, Armley, Leeds, was once the largest factory in the world and is now home to the Armley Mills Industrial Museum.

Gott was born in Calverley, Pudsey in West Yorkshire, the fifth of the six children of John Gott (1720–1793), an engineer / surveyor of bridges for the West Riding of Yorkshire, and his second wife, Susanna Jackson of Bradford

Benjamin was sent to Bingley Grammar School until he was 17.

When he finished school in 1780, his father apprenticed him to Wormald and Fountaine, wool merchants.

1785 At the end of his apprenticeship, Gott became a junior partner in the firm when his father invested £3,660, giving his son a one-eleventh share of the company. Shortly after John Wormald died, leaving his share to his three teenage sons.

1790 November 30th. Married Elizabeth Rhodes (1768-1857) and they had four sons and six daughters

c1791 Joseph Fountaine died and his daughter sold her large interest in the business and Gott, not yet thirty, had become the senior partner in one of the West Riding's principal merchant houses.

Gott's most notable contribution to the industrial revolution happened at Armley Mills, which he leased in 1804. The mill had been badly damaged by fire when he bought the ruins and ordered that the rebuilding include cast iron internal frames and other fireproofing measures. When the repairs were completed in 1805, the new factory was the largest wool factory in the world.

Gott experimented with new ways of making wool cloth, introducing innovations such as using steam power and power looms. 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, collected fine art, and presided over the founding of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society in 1819.

Gott became Mayor of Leeds in 1799, and, by the time he died in 1841, he was a millionaire. His house and grounds designed by Humphrey Repton overlooked the Kirkstall Valley and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from the Armley side.

1830 Chairman of the Leeds and Selby Railway company

1840 February 14th. Died at Armley House, Leeds

In 1928 Gott's house and grounds were leased by Leeds City Council to create a municipal golf course and Armley Park.


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