Leeds video nostalgia: Town Hall time travel trip

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The cars might have changed but the weather hasn’t, as our blended picture of Leeds Town Hall shows.

The original black and white shot of The Headrow was taken on September 5, 1947, while the new image was taken just a few weeks ago.

PIC BLEND: David Clay

PIC BLEND: David Clay

Leeds Town Hall has long been a symbol of the city’s aspirations and latterly its prosperity but its existence is in part thanks to neighbouring Bradfordians, who back in the 1850s had pretentions of building one of the country’s finest town halls.

Not to be outdone, the people of Leeds, stirred by a sense of civic rivalry, decided they would build their own, much bigger and more majestic town hall. That decision was taken in 1851, the site chosen on Park Lane between Calverly Street and Oxford Place. It replaced Park House, the residence of one Dr Richard Hobson.

A competition was launched to come up with a ‘noble magnificent place’ to vie with ‘the best town halls of the Continent’.

The winner of that competition was, of cource, Cuthbert Broderick, the builder being Samuel Atack. The original design of the town hall did not have a tower - this was added later, at much cost and resulted in the design of the building, especially its entrance hall, being significantly altered to accommodate the structure.

An archive shot from  1947 showing cars travelling down The Headrow towards Leeds Town Hall.

An archive shot from 1947 showing cars travelling down The Headrow towards Leeds Town Hall.

When the building was completed in 1858 the original cost had increased to £122,000, far exceeding the £35,000 which the council put up for the building at the outset.

However, soaring rooflines and costs aside, it all came good in the end when Queen Victoria herself visited and officially opened the classically styled building. Still, even then, it would be another two years before the building was finally completed with the hanging of the bell. The town hall lions were added in 1867.