Historic building in Leeds is set for healthy new lease of life

The former York Road library.
The former York Road library.

A landmark building in Leeds that suffered years of neglect is on course for a bright and healthy future as a major transformation project enters its closing stages.

Property company Rushbond today announced the completion of its redevelopment work at the former York Road library, which was once also used as a public baths.

The Grade II listed building, in Richmond Hill, is now being fitted out ahead of its reopening later this summer as a state-of-the-art gym.

Spread across 16,000 sq ft and offering fitness suites, weights rooms and studio space, it will be run by gym operator The Gym Group.

Mark Finch, Rushbond’s director of real estate, said: “Finding new and suitable uses for such historic assets is often challenging and particularly when it’s important to remain true to its heritage, but in many respects a gym is an ideal use and the building can once again contribute to the health and well-being of the local community.

“The highly recognisable character features of the building, such as the clock and the ‘Leeds owl’ mosaic in the entrance hall, have all been painstakingly restored.

“Features such as these will really add to the experience of working out and getting fit in a facility operated by one of the country’s leading gym operators.”

Leeds Civic Trust director Martin Hamilton today praised the work, saying: “This building – an important listed heritage asset – could so easily have been lost forever, so we welcome its imaginative reuse and restoration.”

The building originally opened in 1903 but fell into a state of disrepair following the end of its time as a library in the 1970s.

There have been repeated calls over the years for a new use to be found for the site, which was described in 2005 as a “grand testament to the civic pride of Leeds” by architecture experts at The Victorian Society.