Discovering Leeds Industrial Museum With Kids

Discovering Leeds Industrial Museum with kids on Falcondale Life blog. A mill on the bank of the river Aire.February half term is the ideal time to head indoors to visit a museum or gallery because the weather is likely to be poor on at least one day. I took my tween and teenage daughters to Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mill. It sounds a bit grim and gloomy to visit an industrial museum but we found it interesting and the girls liked it a lot. We went there after a trip to the trampoline park which rounded off a great day out.

Perched on the banks of the Aire just behind the leisure complex at Cardigan Fields, this museum is run by Leeds City Council. It took us about an hour and a quarter to go round. It’s relatively cheap entry; the cost of entry seemed to be a bit lower in reality than what they show on the website.

Machinery and Stories from the Past

We looked around the first display of machinery and tried to work out what they were all for. We found an ornate printing press and some things we couldn’t work out without reading about them. There were some hands-on things for children like buttons to press and drawers to open. In the next room we were lucky enough to see a massive spinning machine in operation. The machine was the size of a tennis court and one man was operating it as it moved back and forth across the entire floor.

Discovering Leeds Industrial Museum with kids on Falcondale Life blog. A yarn weaving machine.

We went on past cloth weaving equipment and soon found ourselves in a reconstruction of a tailor’s shop which the children took over and “ran” for a few minutes. We discovered in one display that the high street shop Burtons was started by an immigrant from Lithuania, Montague Burton. Nearby there were activities for smaller children.

Soon we came to a room with a display we all found sad and poignant, about the industrial disaster at Barnbow where dozens of women were killed in an accident at a munitions factory. Many of them left children or even died with their sisters. We paused for a family hug before moving on.

Discovering Leeds Industrial Museum with kids on Falcondale Life blog. A Zoetrope moving image bowl

Next we attempted to solve a murder. Or was it suicide? Did Louis Le Prince really invent photography and have his invention stolen? Or was he overwhelmed by debt and take his life? We read the theories on display and took a vote; it could have been foul play. Also in the film and photography gallery there was a little spinning tub called a Zoetrope where we could see a rocking horse move as it span. I attempted a video of it. There were a few other gadgets like this and some colouring and stamping for younger children too.

Cinema, Floods and Picnics

Discovering Leeds Industrial Museum with kids on Falcondale Life blog. The Palace Picture House cinemaThe museum has a miniature cinema which is charming and old-fashioned. Apparently you can hire it for parties. It sits about 25 people and on the day of our visit it was showing old films of people at work.

Display rooms further on included a very thorough record of the 2015 Boxing Day floods, when the museum and Kirkstall Road area were all under deep water. Some damage is still visible – and smell-able – at lower levels. Then after a room displaying some history of fashion we were able to see steam engines, some vehicles and many stationery. Some looked quite incredible, like locomotives without wheels. One small engine was pink!

Discovering Leeds Industrial Museum with kids on Falcondale Life blog. A red traction engine

The museum tour finishes outside in a picnic area which can be accessed by footbridge from Cardigan Fields. There is a cafe inside and somehow we missed it. Also we managed to leave without visiting the gift shop, which probably saved me quite a bit of money.

Finding the Museum

A visit to the museum can be done on the same day as a visit to the Cardigan Fields leisure complex which is just a few hundred yards away over a footbridge. There is a cinema, bowling and trampoline park among other things, and also restaurants. However you would almost not know it was there, it’s just out of sight. The museum can also be accessed from the tow-path cycle route along the canal.

The great thing about visiting Armley Mill is that it is quite big with lots of rooms to move through. Even though there is a risk of children getting bored in museums sometimes, I find that if you keep moving onward and discover new rooms, the visit goes well. Of course I’d like to go slower, but it’s an acceptable compromise!

Another day out in Yorkshire: Discover Newby Hall Gardens or take one of our favourite walks around Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs. This blog post is featured on Days Out Now.

Here’s a link to my Places – Travel Wishlist board on Pinterest, why not follow me there?

the Pigeon Pair and Me




  1. 18th October 2017 / 7:59 am

    Wow…It’s looks amazing…Nice Place for kids.

    • 19th October 2017 / 9:39 pm

      Thanks for your comment Steve and I hope you get to visit it soon!

  2. 10th March 2017 / 12:18 pm

    I’ve beento the little cinema here for evening events and screenings a couple of times, but I’ve never actually looked around the museum itself duing the day! I’ll have to call in soon with the youngsters! x

  3. 8th March 2017 / 8:44 am

    I always find the kids love industrial places – they don’t always want clean and new but love discovering about the past.

  4. 5th March 2017 / 11:39 pm

    Wow, it looks such as fab place to visit when in Leeds and very educational. That’s what is so great about travel blogs is finding out these great places to visit which you might never have heard about.

  5. 3rd March 2017 / 10:25 am

    Our children lead such different lives these days, that I think it’s really important to visit places like these. You’d think, with all the modern technology on offer, that things like zoetropes might seem a bit uninteresting to them, but my two were fascinated by one we saw at the Horniman Museum recently. The museum sounds interesting – we’ll try to get to it next time we’re visiting the folks in Harrogate. Thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids!

    • 3rd March 2017 / 11:22 am

      It’s definitely not as glamorous as other museums belonging to Leeds City Council like Temple Newsam, but it really adds on well to a visit to the leisure park over the bridge and makes for a more cultured day out in Leeds.

  6. 3rd March 2017 / 9:35 am

    Leeds really isn’t far from us (I live in Northumberland) but I’ve never taken the kids! I am always reading how many fab things there are to do and must visit soon. The Insustrial Museum has been added to my list 😀

    • 3rd March 2017 / 11:24 am

      I always enjoy a visit to Leeds apart from the cost of parking which is crazy. At least for this museum and the leisure park it is free.

  7. 3rd March 2017 / 9:17 am

    If we ever find ourselves in Leeds, that looks like a great place to visit. Thanks for the review! #culturedkids

  8. 3rd March 2017 / 7:42 am

    Leeds has some great museums. I love abbey house and kirkstall abbey

  9. 1st March 2017 / 8:28 pm

    A museum that you can exit WITHOUT going through the gift shop? This is my kind of place! 😉

    But seriously, this looks like a great museum to visit with the kids – quirky and engaging, with more than enough to satisfy curious little minds. Thanks for the tip! #ThePlacesWeWillGoLinky

    • 3rd March 2017 / 11:34 am

      Yes I know! It’s because the tour finishes outside. But then the loos and café are back inside again ….

  10. Kerry norris
    28th February 2017 / 5:24 pm

    It looks very educational with plenty to learn and explore. The miniature cinema looks cool x

    • 3rd March 2017 / 11:38 am

      It’s such a cute room – and can be hired for parties!

  11. 27th February 2017 / 8:30 pm

    It looks really interesting and educational. My parents always took me to places like this when I was younger for days out x

  12. 26th February 2017 / 9:06 pm

    It’s a great place, isn’t it? We were invited there to a screening at the little cinema at Christmas and it was brilliant! We’ve never been to the museum before so it was great to have a look around while we were there. We’ll definitely be back!

    • 3rd March 2017 / 11:41 am

      It’s nice when they have machinery demonstrations on. I’d love to go to an event at the cinema.

  13. 26th February 2017 / 8:22 pm

    This looks like a really cool and different place to visit.

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