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instruments became “the father of civil engineering”
through his many commissions, including bridges,
waterways and the innovative Eddystone Lighthouse.
Matthew Murray’s Round Foundry – now
home to the city’s “Silicon Shore” – was one of the
frst engineering works in the world – and the source
of early industrialised production of steam engines.
Built in 1797 by engineers and fnanciers, the Foundry
exported textile machinery, steam engines and
locomotives across the planet and indeed the building’s
unique rotunda itself innovated access for machinery.
French inventor Louis Le Prince shot the
world’s frst moving pictures in Leeds: Roundhay
Garden Scene and Leeds Bridge, planting the seeds
for a new medium of cinema.
THE MICROAGE...
Te 1980s saw the rise of personal computing
across the planet along with the nascent UK
videogames scene, largely driven by solitary
bedroom coders. Leeds was home to the emerging
studio structures that began to professionalise the
games industry.
From 1980 to 1987, Micro Power was a
prolifc publisher of numerous games for the ‘8-bit’
platforms of the day - the BBCMicro, Commodore
64 and ZX Spectrum. For many British children,
their frst experiences of videogames were Micro
Power titles.
By 1982,Micro Power was joined by Superior
Software, founded by graduates from the University
of Leeds. Superior focussed on adapting titles from
104–105
vibrant culture, its connectivity to European capitals,
the presence of investors, capital and entrepreneurs
all combine to make Leeds an engine of invention.
Te idea of Leeds has become its most
profound creation; its entangled past, present and
future, the source of its novelty. So who are those
inventors and creators?
THE STEAMPUNKS...
Te industrial revolution saw Leeds at
the heart of the Victorian era’s Silicon Valley, a
constellation of northern ports, mills and mining
towns that powered imperial Britain.
In 1767 Joseph Priestley invented carbonated
water by experimenting with bowls of water
suspended above beer vats at a Leeds based brewery.
Te process was later adopted by the Schweppes
company and – after leaving Leeds – using these
experiments, Priestley went on to discover oxygen,
encouraged by one of the founding fathers of
America, a certain Benjamin Franklin…
Between 1758 and 1792 Leeds born John
Smeaton, a prolifc engineer of mathematical