New Briggate: Culturally-rich corner of Leeds city centre in focus

The fascinating history of one of the city centre's best-loved streets is set to go under the spotlight as part of a new pop-up exhibition.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 10:59 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 11:00 am
An undated photo of New Briggate that features in the exhibition. PIC: Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net
An undated photo of New Briggate that features in the exhibition. PIC: Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net

The exhibition will use old photographs, maps and illustrated stories to tell the tale of New Briggate and the surrounding area, providing an insight into the experiences of some of those who have lived and worked there over the years.

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People attending the free event - taking place at St John’s Church on New Briggate from 11am to 3pm on Saturday, September 11 – will be encouraged to share their own memories and explain what this vibrant and culturally-rich corner of the city centre means to them.

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New Briggate in 2021, with an entrance to St John's Church on the left.

The exhibition will be open to all and is being staged as part of the New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) project, a partnership between Leeds City Council and Historic England. It also forms part of this year’s nationwide Heritage Open Days celebrations.

Hyde Park Picture House will be lending its support at the event with screenings of cinematic gems from the Yorkshire Film Archive. There will also be an opportunity to find out more about Hiding in Plain Sight, a Hyde Park Picture House project dedicated to the lost cinemas of Leeds.

READ MORE: Fascinating stories from 16 Leeds city centre cinemas brought to life .

St John’s is being specially opened for the exhibition. Built in 1632 and managed today by the Churches Conservation Trust, it is the oldest surviving place of worship in Leeds.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council's executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Leeds is filled with history and it is good to see events like this showcasing the achievements of times past and recognising their role in making the city what it is today.

“I’m sure everyone heading to the exhibition will enjoy stepping back in time and learning more about the story of New Briggate. The team is also looking forward to hearing personal stories and memories from those attending. All in all, it promises to be a real day to remember.”

The HAZ project will deliver heritage-led regeneration of New Briggate using government-funded grants for repair work to buildings and public spaces. The council is also working with East Street Arts and other organisations such as Leeds Heritage Theatres, Opera North, North Bar, Age UK, Leeds Civic Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust on a tie-in programme of community engagement and cultural events that will celebrate the history of New Briggate. Stories shared by people attending the pop-up exhibition will feed into this wider work.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: “The New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone is a hugely-exciting project and we’re delighted to be leading it alongside Historic England.

“The regeneration work taking place on New Briggate will help ensure a bright future for one of the most historic parts of our city centre, with improvements to buildings and public spaces that are woven into the fabric of Leeds. This exhibition is a great way of highlighting our ambitions for the area while also giving people an opportunity to make a personal connection with its proud past.”

Bryan Davies, from Historic England, said: “We are really pleased to be supporting this exhibition through the New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone. I am particularly excited about the prospect of hearing the memories and stories from local people about this historic part of Leeds.”

There will be a further chance to learn about the past, present and future of New Briggate and the Grand Quarter Conservation Area during a one-hour walking tour which is taking place on Tuesday, September 14, and will be led by council officers Kate Newell and Claire Easton. For more details, visit the www.heritageopendays.org.uk website. The same website includes information about a self-guided New Briggate walking trail that has been put together by Leeds City Council and the Council for British Archaeology.

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