Briggate: The Leeds skyscraper that was never built

This is an artist's impression for a skyscraper planned for Briggate.

By Andrew Hutchinson
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 4:45 am

Plans were discussed for a 23 storey landmark city centre skyscraper in March 1938.

The proposal for the development scheme came from Briggate Properties Ltd. Three of the directors were well known in Leeds, Sir Henry Price, Mr. John Lambert and Major J. Milner M.P.

The 3,000 square yard site stretched from Briggate to Trinity Street, between Nelson's Yard and Upton's Yard.

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Pictured left is an artist's impression of the planned skyscraper and on the right a model. PICS: Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net

Part of the proposed site was occupied by the 1911 building of the Rialto cinema, formerly the Picture House. Nowadays, Marks & Spencer in Briggate is located on this site.

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The skyscraper was very ambitious in design with an unbroken elevation of 255', making it 35' higher than the dome of Leeds Town hall and twice the height of the Queens Hotel.

A tower was to be constructed above the flat roof to a height of 55' and mounted on the tower would be a 60' flagstaff. The tower would be illuminated at night.

The skyscraper, built in reinforced concrete within a steel frame and brick, would occupy an 86' frontage on Briggate and a 70' frontage on Trinity Street. And the development was set to attract well known retail stores.

But the project was abandoned due to the onset of World War 2 and so it would be many years before any more skyscrapers were planned for the city centre.

These two images are published courtesy of photographic archive Leodis, which is run by Leeds Library & Information Service. They also run heritage blog The Secret Library Leeds, which provides a behind the scenes look at the Central Library and highlights from its special collections, including rare books hidden away in the stacks.

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