LEEDS TOWN HALL & CITY

Grid Ref: SE 296 338
Date: 27 July 2011.

These photographs were taken on a visit made by an Adult Education group from a course on 'Civic Pride' at Alston Hall College near Preston. The party was led by local historian David Brazendale in July 2011. Some additional pictures were taken on 17 January 2012. The Alston Hall group visited Rochdale, Bolton, Liverpool and Rochdale Town Halls and St. George's Hall in Liverpool. Such was the impression created by Leeds Town Hall that "even the ranks of Lancashire could scarce forebear to cheer" at the achivement of their Yorkshire rivals.(note1)

As Wikipedia tells us, Leeds Town Hall was planned to include law courts, a council chamber, offices, a public hall, and a suite of ceremonial rooms, it was built between 1853 and 1858 to a design by the architect Cuthbert Brodrick. With the building of the Civic Hall in 1933, some of these functions were relocated, and after the construction of the Leeds Crown Court in 1993, the Town Hall now serves mainly as a concert, conference and wedding venue, its offices still used by some council departments. It was designated a Grade I listed building in 1951. The Town Hall was conceived to demonstrate the power and success of Victorian Leeds, and opened by Queen Victoria in a lavish ceremony in 1858, it is one of the largest town halls in the United Kingdom. With a height of 225 feet (68.6 m) it was the tallest building in Leeds for 108 years from 1858 until 1966. The distinctive baroque clock tower, which serves as a landmark and a symbol of Leeds, was not part of the initial design but was added by Brodrick in 1856 as the civic leaders sought to make an even grander statement.

This is the story of many of the great town halls of the Victorian era including St. George's Hall in Liverpool. They served several purposes. One was to act as the centre of justice with courtrooms above and a jail below. There were chambers for council meetings and halls for receptions, balls and entertainment. In the 20th century, new courts and prisons were needed and more extensive office space for council staff, with improved facilities, leaving the Town Hall with limited uses.

Leeds Town Hall
Town Hall

 

Main Entrance   Side Entrance
Main Entrance   Side Entrance
Lamp   Carving
Ornate Lamp   Carving and railings
Ceiling   Ceiling
Ceiling of entrance hall outside Victoria Hall   Part of ceiling of entrance hall
Ceiling   Floor Tiles
Another part of the entrance hall ceiling   Floor in Minton Tiles
Organ   Ceiling
Organ in Victoria Hall   Ceiling decoration in Victoria Hall
Balcony   Victoria Hal
Balcony and columns   Improving mottoes around the walls of Victoria Hall
ceiling of Victoria Hall   The Circle
Barrel Vaulted Ceiling of Victoria Hall   The Circle

 

General View
Leeds Civic Hall on 17 Jan 2012

The images below were taken of some other prominent buildings in Leeds city centre.

Golden Owl   Library
Leeds City Emblem   Gothic Decoration in Leeds City Library
Thornton Arcade   Library
Thornton Arcade   In the cafe of the library
County Arcade   County Arcade
County Arcade   Upper Levels, County Arcade
Corn Exchange   Corn Exchange
Corn Exchange by Cuthbert Brodrick   Ceiling in Corn Exchange

Note 1. "Even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forebear to cheer" is a quotation from Thomas Babington Macauley's poem Horatius, one of is Lays of Ancient Rome, published in 1842

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