Leeds MPs

BEECROFT, George Skirrow (1809-1869) Conservative. Ironmaster.

He eventually became one of the owners of Kirkstall Forge, but also developed an interest in politics and from 1850 was councillor for Headingley Ward where the forge was located. He strongly supported Robert Hall in the general election of 1857 and helped his Conservative colleague break the monopoly the Liberals had and wrest the seat back. However, Hall died only months later. Beecroft stood in the by-election and squeezed home with a majority of just 6. The 1859 general election was another close call when he beat William Edward Forster by just 22. He belonged to the more Liberal wing of the Tory Party and thus, although a staunch Anglican, he tolerated all religious sects and was a keen supporter of state education. He was active outside Parliament; was a member of the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, a JP, Deputy Lieutenant for the West Riding, president of the Leeds Conservative Association and chairman of the Ebbw Vale Steel Company. His lasting legacy to Leeds is that he turned Abbey House into a family home and markedly improved the site of Kirkstall Abbey. Ill health forced his retirement from Parliament. For further reading see Yorkshire Post, 19 March 1859.