Leeds nostalgia: Town Hall steps back in time...

BLEND: David Clay

BLEND: David Clay

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Looking like a ghostly apparition, the people pictured sitting in front of Leeds Town Hall may be separated by just a few steps but in time they are 113 years adrift.

The black and white picture was taken in 1902, while the modern picture dates from just a few weeks ago. Seen together it is apparent just how much the city architecture around the town hall has changed, while the building itself has altered very little, at least from the outside.

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Leeds Town Hall on The Headrow was built between 1853 and 1858 at a time when the city was undergoing great change, both in terms of its increasing wealth and the challenges facing society.

It was said to be the most magnificent town hall in the whole of England outside London and cost £122,000. It was opened by Queen Victoria herself, during a royal visit to the city in 1858. The clock tower was not an original feature but rather was added later, mostly in a bid to out-do neighbouring Bradfordians, who were also building their town hall at the same time.

It was built by Cuthbert Brodrick, the same man who designed the Corn Exchange.

This ‘municipal palace’ boasted a public and concert hall for as many as 8,000 people, a mayoral suite, council chambers, courtrooms and the police department, along with all the various offices each facility required. The imposing building was made even more so by its row of ten Corinthian columns at the main entrance; pavilions at either side with pilasters and more columns and an ornamented balustrade, not to mention the clock tower, which was so heavy that extra support columns had to be added to the already cramped entrance hall to accommodate it. Leeds Town Hall is one of the great town halls of England, and was influential in the planning of others.

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