It’s one of the city’s finest landmarks, but you’d be surprised at how many people have never ventured within Leeds Town Hall. Make sure you’re not one of them by taking a tour…
How many times have you walked past Leeds Town Hall? When you live in the city, it’s only normal to get used to the landmarks that, to any tourist, would be camera fodder. But just because you’re a local, doesn’t mean they hold any less wonder – so why not look at one of the city’s finest, from a new angle?
Built between 1853 and 1858, Leeds Town Hall is one of Cuthbert Broderick’s marvellous creations and caused quite the controversy back in the day as budgets over ran. It allowed the city to move its judicial processes from the outgrown courthouse to a much bigger space that combined a police station, courtroom and those famed cells, with workspace and a grand hall complete with the largest three manual organ in Europe.
Nowadays, the holding cells lie empty, the courtroom is used for conferencing rather than judging and the police work from a new home – but rather than hiding away the building’s past, they’re opening it up to the public on the last Saturday and Monday of every month.
You’ll get to see all the nooks and crannies not usually on show, exploring the old courtroom and the Victoria Hall with its impressive decor and legendary organ, before venturing down into the ancient cells that once housed the city’s criminals.
They remain much the same as they were then, even the toilets are still in tact, at least in some of the cells. You’ll no doubt hear a few stories along the way, perhaps of Charlie Peace, the burglar and murderer that was tried and held here before his execution at Armley Prison.
For some, the cells will be the highlight, but if you can bring yourself to tackle the 203 steps that lead up to the clock tower, you’ll likely find yourself with a new favourite, as the views from the top are simply spectacular. As well as looking out on the city below, you can catch a glimpse of the inner workings of the old clock, seeing the cogs that have made it turn for hundreds of years.
Leeds Town Hall Tours run at 4pm on the last Monday of the month and 12pm on the last Saturday of the month. It costs £4.50 per person. Private tours are available for £125.