New life for historic Leeds drying house

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AN historic property in Leeds which features 18th century wooden beams from Royal Navy warships has been restored to its former glory.

The Drying House, a Grade II listed building on Kirkstall Road, has been refurbished by Ilkley-based property developer Andrew Clark.

He bought it for £325,000 in 2012 and spent more than £400,000 renovating the building.

It now comprises nearly 8,000 sq ft of office space and the top floor of the two-storey building has been let to Merison Retail UK Ltd, one of the largest independent suppliers of kitchen, table and outdoor products in Europe, which has taken a ten year lease.

Mr Clark said: “This has been my first foray into property development and has been a real challenge and a labour of love.

“The building has a rich history, as its name suggests, and it was desperately sad to see the pitiful state of disrepair into which it had fallen.

“It has taken two and a half years of my life but I am proud to say the building has now been restored to its former glory.

“In its heyday the building, which overlooks the River Aire, was used as a drying house for leather goods, with the steam coming from water from the river.

“It was a hive of industry and part of Leeds’ rich history. It would have been a travesty had the building been demolished as was once planned.”

Eamon Fox, partner and head of office agency at the Leeds office of property consultancy Knight Frank, said: “Andrew has done a superb job, creating first class open plan office space within an historic setting. The internal ambience of the building is wonderful.

“The letting to Merison, before the building was actually completed, underlines its quality.”