Leeds nostalgia: Changing face of City Square

Have your say

This week’s ‘then and now’ blended picture shows us a glimpse of what City Square looked like in the early 1900s, with cobbled streets and a distinct lack of high-rise buildings, which today dominate the area.

The original black and white picture shows City Square looking up towards Mill Hill Chapel, which was built in 1848 and was where Joseph Priestley preached for a time. Priestley Hall, which has long since been demolished, can be seen to the left of the chapel.

A woman can be seen crossing the cobbled street and along one side of the square are two horse and carts.

The statue of the Black Prince dominates, as it does today, although it is in a slightly different position. The Black Prince has been moved into all sorts of different orientations since it first became a feature of the square.

Unveiled in 1903, the statue of the Black Prince was commissioned by one Colonel Harding, who said the hero of Crecy and Poitiers was “the flower of English chivalry, the upholder of the liberties of the English people and an emblem of manly and unselfish virtues.”

Its existence in the picture means it must have been taken at some point after that but the exact date is unknown but judging by the dress, the lack of traffic, cobbled streets and the presence of horses and carts, it would seem to be early 20th Century. Indeed, City Square itself was not created until 1899, after a patch of land in front of the Post Office was purchased by Leeds Corporation with a view to improving the general area. City Square itself has had many designs over the years. The building on the corner of Boar Lane is the Old Exchange Building, which opened in 1875 was was designed by the architects T H and F Healey, of Bradford. The building was replaced by a multi-storey office block in 1966.