They may now be home to the big developments of the city’s future, but there’s a story or two behind the modern facade…
Once important to the city for very different reasons, these three sites are intwined with the history of Leeds – but now they have been, or soon will be, repurposed to be just as vital today. From industrial hubs to early railways, we’ve delved into the past of three of Leeds’ big developments.
In the last few years alone, it’s been Clarence Dock, New Dock and Leeds Dock, but the space where the leisure and residential site now stands was once a thriving part of the city’s industrial prowess. It was used by boats taking the River Aire or Leeds and Liverpool Canal as they shipped goods to and from the city centre, with coal going from Yorkshire collieries to the mills and factories of the South Bank.
The 20th century, however, saw a noticeable decline in the area’s productivity with businesses closing down as production and trade moved out of town. As a result the Dock was left in ruins until the Royal Armouries was built in 1996, followed a decade later by an extensive residential, office and leisure development. They’ve hit a more than a few hurdles along the way, most recently the Boxing Day Floods, but there’s no doubt that it’s in a better state now than it was 30 years ago.
The site of the current Wellington Place development has played a huge role in the city’s history. For more than a century it was home to Leeds’ old Central Station, the city’s main railway exchange on Wellington Street, but after opening in 1854, it saw its final departure on 1 May 1967, as rail services were consolidated into the more modern and feasible Leeds City Station.
After the track was detonated, part of the site became what is now the Tower Square development, while the rest of it has seen one of the biggest office and leisure developments in Leeds, with more still to come. You can still see a sliver of Leeds’ history though, in the form of the old Lifting Tower, which still stands today.
An iconic Leeds building and a renowned British brand are set to become one in the coming years. Built in 1836, the Grade I listed Temple Works in Holbeck was originally a flax mill, and was once home to the largest single room anywhere in the world – they’re also famed for having sheep grazing on the rooftop to retain the humidity in inside. It played a huge role in Leeds’ industrial growth, with John Marshall’s businesses leading the way, but as with many buildings on the South Bank, it fell out of use in the mid 19th century.
Now plans are afoot to give Temple Works the care and attention it deserves as Burberry set about moving production of their famed trench coats to Leeds. They’ve committed to invest £50 million in a new state of the art manufacturing centre in the South Bank due to be completed by 2019, followed by the long overdue regeneration of the Grade I listed Temple Works.