Leeds nostalgia: Two-tier thinking leads to Grade II listing

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News broke last week that Bank House, the former Bank of England building on King Street in the city centre, has been listed as a Grade II building.

It was part of the ‘brutalist’ style of buildings which were constructed during the 1960s and 1970s. It’s angular concrete blocks remind one of the former international swimming pool on the ring road (now demolished), the former Yorkshire Evening Post building on Wellington Street (also now demolished) and the Edward Boyle Library at the University of Leeds, which shares some of its architectural themes.

The building has a raised pedestrian walkway, which can still be seen if you look up when walking past. The publication of the Buchanan Report in November 1963 discussed traffic in city centres and Leeds was used as an example. It recommended a two-tier system with cars on the ground and pedestrians above. Plans were even drawn up to run a motorway right past the Town Hall - that scheme was called The Leeds Approach.

On the subject of brutalist buildings, Dr Kevin Grady, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said previously: “It could be that in 20 or 30 years time, we look back and think, why did we pull all those concrete buildings down?

“I think there was an argument to have saved the former Leeds International Swimming Pool.”

In its report, English Heritage celebrated the building as a “boldly designed and executed office building” with “architectural finesse and historic interest.”


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