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5 Neglected Leeds Landmarks That Are Being Brought Back to Life

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

History meets present day.

First White Cloth Hall

These five historic buildings are being resurrected in a myriad of cool and interesting ways.

The developments that drum up the most interest are the ones that take something old and make it new again. That’s certainly the case with these projects. They’re going to take five neglected landmarks and give them a new purpose. From old cinemas to iconic mills, find out how the city’s most prominent buildings will be brought back to life in the coming years.

The Majestic

The Majestic

The Majestic is a Leeds icon. As a cinema and a club, it was at the heart of the city’s entertainment scene throughout the 20th century. But after standing empty for much of the 2000s and suffering a devastating fire in 2014, it’s future looked bleak. But not for much longer.

The £40 million redevelopment by Rushbond will see the facade restored and the old domed roof replaced by a 7-storey glass structure, complete with a 3-storey atrium. There will be 65,000 square foot of office space, much of which will be taken over by Channel 4, with oodles of room on the ground floor for food, drink and leisure units the public can use. The Majestic is due to reopen at the end of 2020.

Temple Works

Temple Works

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Ali Turner

In its heyday, Temple Works was a thriving hub of industry. The Egyptian-inspired complex was originally a Victorian flax mill owned by industrialist John Marshall and it had the biggest single room in the world when it was built. Later, it became the Northern headquarters for Kay’s, but when they moved out in 1981, things started to go downhill.

After years of false dawns and temporary uses, the Grade-I listed landmark may finally have secured its future. It’s the preferred location for the new British Library of the North and will form its Northern hub. The timeline for completion has not been laid out yet, but thanks to the devolution deal for West Yorkshire, the government will contribute £25 million to make it happen.

First White Cloth Hall

First White Cloth Hall

Built in 1711 for the sale of undyed cloth by local merchants, First White Cloth Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Leeds. It’s suffered decades of neglect since it was vacated in the mid 20th century, but the £2 million project to bring it back to its former glory is due to be completed by the end of 2020.

They’re rebuilding the northern elevation facing Kirkgate and replacing the lost southern elevation with a cube-like layout that will lead to the Corn Exchange. The central courtyard will be enclosed by a new glass structure and the original assembly room is being faithfully recreated. Once complete, we’ll be able to enjoy the First White Cloth Hall as close to its original purpose as possible, as a food, drink and retail hub.

Midland Mills

Midland Mills

One of the most important industrial heritage sites in South Leeds, Midland Mills is comprised of a series of Grade-II listed buildings, the oldest of which dates back to 1802. They were originally built as flax mills and continued to be textile factories until the closure of Platts in 1981. Since then, they’ve been used by a series of light industry businesses.

Most of the site has been left to deteriorate over the years, so the latest plans to bring it back to life are welcome. The existing Victoria Mills building will be refurbished to create 22 flats and 4,750 square foot of commercial space. That will be complemented by the regeneration of the smaller buildings nearby and the addition of a 32-storey skyscraper. The complex will have 284 flats, alongside a communal gym, lounge and cinema.

The Old Leeds Dispensary

Centenary House, Old Leeds Dispensary

This Grade-II listed treasure on North Street was built in 1904. It was used as an early accident and emergency hospital until 1971 when it became the home of the Leeds Deaf and Blind Society, but it’s been empty for nearly a decade as various plans for the building failed to materialise.

But the latest plans have made it through planning and work is now well underway to transform the old hospital into 79 apartments. The existing three-storey building is being completely renovated, but the true extent of the project is huge because it will be given a new-build roof extension and a six-storey book-end extension on the western flank of the building. There will also be space on the ground floor for retail and leisure units.