Leeds is blessed with stunning architecture, from the work of Cuthbert Brodrick to lesser known gems that brighten up our streets. But many of the city’s most interesting buildings aren’t even in use – and some of them are suffering for it.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen some of the city’s most historic buildings restored to their former glory, The Griffin and The Majestic among them (although the latter was savaged by fire this week). But there are still some iconic buildings in Leeds that remain empty and they’re suffering from it. The Civic Trust is on the case, working to preserve the architecture of our city’s past, but wouldn’t you like to see these forgotten treasures back in use?
Though it’s bare on the insides – suggestive of the lack of care in recent years – Hunslet Mill is a towering example of Leeds’ industrial and architectural heritage. The largest flax mill in the city, the west portion of the building was demolished in the eighties. The main structure remains however, all seven stories of it, and with remnants of the classical-influenced plasterwork still remaining on the inside, as well as its connection to Leeds’ heritage, it’s a wonder no one has taken the plunge to renovate it.
York Road Library & Baths
Celebrating its 110th year in 2014, York Road Library and Baths are a prime example of Leeds architecture that’s been left to rot. Since the Library Headquarters left in 1985, and the Bindary department followed in the nineties, it hasn’t been up to much. But with features like the large clock that projects from the tower on the left of the building and the cupola above, as well as the floor mosaic and shields bearing the names of the likes of Shakespeare and Chaucer, surely it deserves to be brought back into use?
There aren’t many buildings that last for over 250 years, but Thorpe Hall has – just. It reaches its fiftieth anniversary of being Grade II listed in 2014 too, but you’d have trouble recognising why. Broken windows and general disuse have seen a once grand example of Georgian architecture rendered useless. Its classical doorway and symmetrical windows are eye-catching enough, but it’s about time it connects with its history and becomes impressive once more.
Roundhay Carriage House
The distinctive nature of Ashlar buildings can be seen throughout Leeds. The once yellow, but now weathered structures are synonymous with certain areas, and Roundhay’s Carriage House is no different. Built as a stables and a storage area for carriages, unsurprisingly, the building has been in the hands of Leeds City Council for a while, who have tried to lease and sell the it without success. With features such as the elliptical carriage arches and central clock tower still so prominent, it’s a wonder that it’s been left in such a state.
Marshall Mill School
There are few remaining examples of mill schools, yet Leeds is home to one of the finest in the form of Marshall Mill. There were over five hundred children under thirteen who worked at the mill of the same name by 1840, to give you an idea of the scale of the two storey structure. Built in 1822, it’s packed with subtle features of the period, such as rubbed brick arches, and a hipped slate roof. Perhaps, inspiration can be taken from the surrounding Holbeck Urban Village to give the building a second chance.
Image of Roundhay Carriage House copyright Matt Edgar All other images copyright Jenna Richardson of Leeds Civic Trust.