Aug 2023 - 2024
A creative programme by artists, scientists, engineers, designers and anyone who wants to get playful with engineering! Inspired by the work of Leeds born John Smeaton, the UK's first Civil Engineer.
graphic of cogs satellites and wheels
About the project
smeaton300 graphic

John Smeaton was born in Leeds and his trailblazing Civil Engineering projects continue to shape the world around us today. 

Smeaton300 celebrates his life, legacy and influences all the way up to his 300th birthday in 2024. 

Get playful with engineering at museum events, STEAM activities in schools and interactive workshops in libraries. Hear talks and debates from bright minds in art, culture and science to get us all thinking big about our future. 

Look up to the sky with a visit to Moon Palace. This beautiful mobile observatory inspired by the work of John Smeaton tours the city of Leeds from August.

The Smeaton300 programme starts this summer and continues throughout the year.

Smeaton300 for schools

    Smeaton CREST Awards

    As a part of LEEDS 2023 Signature Project Smeaton300, we’ve partnered up with the CREST Awards to inspire KS2 and KS3 pupils to think and behave like scientists and engineers. Register your interest today and get a voucher code to do the Smeaton CREST Awards for free! 

    View over the River Aire of Leeds city centre
    School trip
    Smeaton300 Industry Sharing Day
    Wed 8 Nov

    As a part of LEEDS 2023 Signature Project  Smeaton300, Leeds Industrial Museum are hosting an opportunity for KS2 and KS3 pupils taking STEM to work alongside industry professionals and design an imaginary new public space in Leeds; Smeaton Park! Register today for an educational and fun day out, and see STEAM in action. 

    happy child
    Teacher's Conference: STEM and the Arts
    Sat 30 Sep

    We’re hosting a conference inspired by John Smeaton for primary and secondary teachers. Focussing on STEAM education, and the importance of cross-curricular teaching and learning across STEM and the arts, it's open to all teachers across Leeds.

    Graphic for Smeaton300 with purple background. The detail is in a light pink and shows outlines of a waterwheel, constellations, windmill and cog.
    Smeaton300 Coding Day with Barclays
    Thu 30 Nov

    We’re inviting Year 6 pupils from across Leeds for a two-hour creative coding workshop to create a game using the basics of coding. In partnership with Barclay's Code Playground.

    graphic of cogs satellites and wheels
    My Learning John Smeaton Resource

    We’ve made some free resources on John Smeaton via My Learning. It’s for KS2 and KS3 students across a variety of subject areas, especially History, Science, Design Technology, and GCSE & BTEC Engineering.

The story so far...

Foxglove have created a brilliant website that celebrates all things John Smeaton. We've selected some blog highlights to give you a taster of Smeaton's life and legacy. View all.

    lego blocks in centre of motif with Everything is Everywhere written around the image
    Engineering Is Everywhere

    Engineering is everywhere, this blog highlights everyday spaces where you can find engineering.

    female engineer on site in hard hat and high vis
    Where are the Women Engineers?

    When Foxglove started digging into the archives it quickly became apparent that there were few women's voices highlighted in the history of engineering, science and astronomy.

    However, if you dig a little deeper you’ll find some amazing women figures from who are finally making it into the history books! Read on for some great stories and achievements by women in engineering, science and astronomy.

    Jane Earnshaw and Abby Dix-Mason (Foxglove) view book in library
    In conversation with Foxglove: the life and work of John Smeaton

    We sat down with the team from Foxglove, a creative partnership between Jane Earnshaw and Abby Dix-Mason to learn more about who John Smeaton was and why this project has been developed to celebrate him.

Interior of moon palace includes a family stargazing and reading books
Interior of Moon Palace photography by Charles Emerson
Moon palace a bus with galactic decoration and a satelite and telescope on the roof the sky is dark above it
Moon Palace photography by Charles Emerson
A family stand around an art kiosk
The East Leeds Project's mobile makerspace, KIOSK, on a recent workshop
Jane Earnshaw and Abby Dix-Mason (Foxglove) view book in library
Jane Earnshaw and Abby Dix-Mason (Foxglove/Leeds City Council) with Smeaton’s book ‘A Narrative […] of the Construction of Edystone [Eddystone] Lighthouse’
Small Bells Ring, 2021. Previous work by Heather Peak and Ivan Morison.
Small Bells Ring, 2021. Previous work by Heather Peak and Ivan Morison.

What people are saying

"Moon Palace was such a lovely and unusual experience, my little one loved it!"
Audience member
Moon Palace tour


Smeaton300 is an original idea developed by Foxglove, enabled by Leeds City Council in partnership with LEEDS 2023. Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Bruntwood, Burberry and Scottish Power Foundation.

Moon Palace is by Heather Peak and Ivan Morison. It is an East Leeds Project and LEEDS 2023 Co-Production and is commissioned by Foxglove and LEEDS 2023 for Smeaton300. The work is based on an original idea of a mobile observatory by East Leeds Project. Developed in collaboration with the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds.

Creative Team

Abby Dix-Mason
Foxglove / Leeds City Council
Jane Earnshaw
Foxglove / Leeds City Council
Kerry Harker
East Leeds Project
Claire Irving
East Leeds Project
Heather Peak
Ivan Morison


Leeds 2023 Logo with Supported by Leeds City Council
east leeds project in a blue circle

Supported by

Made possible with Heritage Fund logo
Supported by ACE
Bruntwood logo
Burberry Logo
Scottish Power Foundation Logo

Discover more behind the scenes stories

    Summer in park with people and booths with tents
    My LEEDS 2023
    All year

    Who better to shine a light on the amazing communities of Leeds and tell their stories than the people themselves? For My LEEDS 2023 our Neighbourhood Hosts representing every ward in Leeds have come together to organise city-wide celebrations all summer long.

    Hidden Stories - two people looking at newspapers in a library
    Hidden Stories
    July onwards

    Heritage is within us all.

    It’s in the stories we tell, the food we make, and the songs we sing. It’s what makes our city so special. Hidden Stories is our year-long co-created programme of special projects with creativity at their core, celebrating the heritage we all share.

    illustration of a child skipping across some  stepping stones in the sky made of books
    Northern Dreaming
    Sept onwards

    LEEDS 2023 and the British Library have come together to gift a collection of stories to babies born in 2023. 

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