John Deakin Heaton
About the Project
About the Project

The Heaton Map project is a collaboration between the Centre for Culture and the Arts at Leeds Beckett University, the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, and the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield.  The project takes an innovative approach to urban heritage by using modern technology to map the public and private activities of one of Leeds’s most active nineteenth-century citizens across the physical terrain of the modern city.  Its aim is to reconnect modern day citizens of and visitors to Leeds with an important but forgotten figure in the city’s past: one who did a huge amount to shape the institutions and appearance of twenty-first century Leeds.

The project was inspired by the journals of Dr John Deakin Heaton, currently held in the archive of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society.  These consist of seven leather-bound volumes of closely hand-written text.  Most are in Heaton’s own hand, though the final volume was completed by his wife, Fanny, after his death in 1880.  The journals were written up retrospectively: the first volume covered his life up to and beyond 1859, when he started to keep the journal.  Some of the entries, particularly relating to his overseas travels, were written up from a daily diary which does not survive; others were probably put together using newspaper accounts of events in Leeds, and Heaton’s own memory.  All are informed and enlivened by Heaton’s dry humour and his often scathing views on the events and personalities of the day. 

At its heart is a walking tour of ten major sites in Heaton’s public and private life.  These include major public buildings such as the Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Infirmary and Leeds Institute building (now the City Museum).  They also include Claremont, the family home and currently headquarters of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society.  Around this, the project maps other locations from the journals, particularly those where Heaton was active in supporting particular institutions or where he owned property.  Each marker on the map gives access to a brief description of the building or institution it relates to, and Heaton’s connection with it.  There are usually also one or two excerpts from Heaton’s diary in relation to each location.  For those who want further information, the major entries are accompanied by suggestions for further reading and/or links to online information or images.

It is anticipated that the site will keep developing as we discover more information about Heaton’s activities, so do keep checking.

All content on the site is authored by Dr Simon Morgan of Leeds Beckett University, unless otherwise acknowledged.