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.

Temple Works

Temple Works

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 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.

St Mary’s Church

Mount St Mary's Church

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Katie Nicole

St Mary’s is one of the oldest churches in Leeds. This Grade II*-listed treasure in Richmond Hill opened in 1851, but has been left to rot since 1989. Now, recently revealed plans for 175 one, two and three bed apartments will make sure it’s protected for years to come.

Leeds-based architects Brewster Bye have worked with Historic England, Civic Trust and Leeds City Council’s conservation department to make sure they keep as much of the original church as possible. The chancel, transept areas and altars will be retained and restored, while the nave and aisles will be removed to make way for a new extension that will house 62 flats. The old presbytery next-door will be knocked down too and replaced with a new build of 113 apartments.

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.