Jimi’s legacy helps usher in a new era for former Leeds fire station

Julie Heselden, Jackie Foster, Linda Gunby, Beverley Heselden and Sally-Anne Greenfield at today's reopening ceremony.
Julie Heselden, Jackie Foster, Linda Gunby, Beverley Heselden and Sally-Anne Greenfield at today's reopening ceremony.

It served the community as a fire station for nearly 80 years.

Now the former Gipton Fire Station building is embarking on a new era – but one that will still see it playing an important part in the lives of people in east Leeds.

The landmark building on Gipton Approach was the oldest operational fire station in the city prior to its closure in 2015.

It has since been purchased and renovated in a project led by the Leeds Community Foundation charity with the help of a grant from a fund set up in memory of the late Leeds businessman and philanthropist Jimi Heselden.

Aptly renamed The Old Fire Station, the site will now be home to six third sector organisations with additional space that charities, businesses and individuals can hire for meetings and events.

And today members of Mr Heselden’s family were on hand at a ceremony that marked the official reopening of the building.

Leeds Community Foundation chief executive Sally-Anne Greenfield said: “This has been one of the most significant projects the Foundation has undertaken.

“We are so proud that we have been able to take the contribution of the incredibly generous Jimi Heselden and put it into such a worthwhile project that will make a significant difference to so many people.

“We have been working tirelessly to keep the character of this fantastic building, whilst finding ways to create something new and exciting to support the local community.”

Five third sector tenants – GIPSIL, Healthwatch, Zest, Space 2 and People in Action – have already moved into the site.

The SLATE charity will be operating the building’s community café, working with people with learning difficulties.

Leeds Community Foundation headed up the renovation with project manager Aspect 4, architects Brewster Bye and construction firm Simpson of York.

Gipton Fire Station opened in 1937 and was originally known as ‘The Eastern’.

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