Armley is a district in the west of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It starts less than from Leeds city centre. Like much of Leeds, Armley grew in the industrial revolution and had several mills, one of which is now the Armley Mills museum. Armley is predominantly and historically a largely working class area of the city, still retains many smaller industrial businesses, and has many rows of back-to-back terrace houses. Armley became part of Leeds in 1835.
Armley is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book reference to: "Ristone, Ermelai". At the time there were eight villagers in Ristone (now east Armley) and Ermelai (now west Armley). The actual population is indeterminable as this only accounts for the 'head of household'.
Armley Mills, now the Armley Mills Industrial Museum, was the world's largest woollen mill when it was built in 1788. In the 18th and 19th centuries Armley was, through its mills, a major contributor to the economy of the city of Leeds. Many of the buildings standing in and around Armley were built in the 1800s, including many of the churches, schools, shops and houses. Ledgard Way is named after the entrepreneur, Samuel Ledgard. Armley also has picturesque views over the rest of Leeds from certain vantage points. William Tetley started his business of malters in Armley in 1700, from this Joshua Tetley formed the Tetley's brewery in 1822.
Damage caused by a raid in the Leeds Blitz in March 1941 and later slum clearance schemes brought about the redevelopment of much of Armley in a programme beginning in the 1950s and finishing in the early 1970s.
From the 1870s until 1956, Armley was home to the J W Roberts asbestos mattress and boiler lining factory. This facility exposed residents to asbestos fibres and resulted in a mesothelioma cancer cluster which persists to this day. One of the victims June Hancock launched a court action against Turner & Newall, the company that owned the J W Roberts' factory in 1993. Although the court case was successful, corporate restructuring had, as of 2005, avoided the case being settled. Hancock's story was the subject of a play, Dust, by Kenneth F. Yates, performed in Armley and at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in July 2009.
The parish church, St Bartholomew's, is home to one of the finest pipe organs in the UK, built by the German organbuilder, Edmund Schulze. Originally built for Meanwood Towers in 1866-9, it was opened by S.S. Wesley. It was moved to St Bartholomew's in 1879. Schulze's work, and this organ in particular, had enormous influence on the development of British organ building in the 19th century. Both church and organ have been restored.
Legend has it that a pedlar called Charlie used to rest and water his pony and trap in Whingate Park in the 19th century. He apparently sold spicy shortbread to the citizens of Upper Armley for 1d a piece. Today the triangular-shaped park is known as Charlie or Charley Cake Park. According to Armley Through the Camera, written in 1901, the park was "within memory of many present residents of Armley, a patch of wasteland. Some of them regularly played cricket on its turf"