On arriving at the Leeds City Station pass through the ticket barriers and turn to your left.
Once a convenient car park.
You are now inside the 1938 concourse interior designed by WH Hamlyn, restored in 1999 by Carey Jones Architects.
Atop the station John Poulson’s 1967 City House – now re-clad in the modern manner and badged as Bruntwood owned Platform One.
A reinvention of a Leeds landmark, offering office space for tech and digital businesses of all sizes right at the heart of the city.
The main body of the station was rebuilt 2001-03 by McKellar Architecture to a scheme by ESG Design Architects.
Exiting by the main exit, there is a gentle brick and concrete curve – leading to the side of the Queens Hotel also the work of WH Hamlyn 1938.
A monumental classical facade with discrete Deco detailing.
Nine Bond Court an almost anonymous tower block, leads us into Bond Court, where we find the HSBC by Whitney Son & Austen Hall 1966-69.
Onwards now to 7 Park Row reworked by Box Architects this former Lloyd’s Bank HQ by Abbey Hanson Rowe 1972-77
Park Row is the City’s most sought after business location, benefiting from being perfectly placed centrally between Leeds’ Central Business District and Retail Core. You and your staff will have all that you need to enjoy a work-life balance.
Next door the National Westminster Bank
Replacing George Gilbert Scott’s renowned Beckett’s Bank of 1863-67 demolished in 1965.
Intrigued by the transition of grid and material finish along Park Row.
Up the rise of the Row toward the Henry Moore Institute and City Art Gallery with their modern extensions.
1993 Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones with BDP
1980-82 John Thorp and Neville Conder complete with Moore’s Reclining Woman Elbow of 1980.
Honourable mention to The Light conversion DLG Architects 2002.
Awaiting yet another reimagining – Ian Purser, architect director at BDP said:
This scheme will create a new destination in an area of regeneration, effectively opening up a ‘new front’ to the Merrion Centre while utilising the existing structure and incorporating contemporary food and beverage facilities.
Just along the way Gerry Anderson meets Morrison’s.
Merrion House to the rear.
BDP’s remodelling and extension of Merrion House office block is an exemplar of sustainable refurbishment. Originally completed in 1974 the building was designed to accommodate Leeds City Council’s office based staff.
A “changing the workplace” initiative has been instigated by the council, adapting to changing working patterns. Flexible office environments, created in both the new and refurbished elements of the building, fully support this.
For me one of the City’s finest post-war buildings the Leeds City College – Technology Campus
The college was originally built as the Branch College of Engineering and Science during the late 1950s and 60s.
It was renamed Kitson College in 1967, and later Leeds College of Technology. In 2009 the college merged with Thomas Danby College and Park Lane College to form Leeds City College, becoming the third largest further education college in the UK.
The meeting also heard how the site was also used by rock band Pink Floyd to record their 1967 hit See Emily Play.
Early plans to knock down one of Leeds city centre’s most recognisable buildings were supported by an influential panel of Leeds councillors today.
Developers’ blueprints to replace the former Leeds College of Technology building in Woodhouse Lane with 20-storeys of student accommodation went before a meeting of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel last week.
Commissioned by Leeds City Council as part of the Arena project the Leeds Song Tunnel is the creation of designer Adrian Riley, an alumnus of Leeds College of Art.
Take a peek at the world going on almost underground.
The up to the LeedsArtsUniversity – designed by local practice DLA, the scheme was built by ISG.
Adorned by mosaics re-sited from the Merrion Centre
The magnificent Merrion Centre mosaics created by Eric Taylor 1909-99, artist and former Principal of Leeds College of Art 1956-70, have been installed at Leeds College of Art’s Blenheim Walk building.
More public art in store at the former Polytechnic now University Engineering Buildings – Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall 1955-69.
Curving above the entrance of the Mechanical Engineering building is this glass fibre sculpture. Cast from a clay mould it retains a malleable texture. This is the work of architecture Allan Johnson former student of Leeds College of Art.
Around the corner this delightful sculptural window screen.
Let’s wend our way homewards via Hubert Dalwood’s 1961 Untitled Bas-Relief now see this on the theatre Stage@Leeds, it was originally up at the University’s Bodington Hall of residence.
Seconds from this theatre Barbara Hepworth’s 1965 Dual Form.
Finally casting our eyes skyward toward William Chattaway’s 1958 Spirit of Enterprise/Hermes.
Originally on the wall of the Midland Bank building in London before the building was was sold in the early eighties. It was saved from potentially being sold for scrap and the four and a half ton sculpture has been flying high on campus since 1983.
A feature of note is the hose drying tower – not a ladder practice tower – that rises to a height of 115ft and a reminder that in the day the canvas hoses used had to be dried out after use. There is a local story that the tower was deliberately of such a height to architecturally compliment the adjacent Catholic Church, completed some 10 years earlier and with an amazing dome but no tower!
Designed by the Borough Surveyor S H Morgan and his Assistant S G Eldred the station was formally opened by Alderman J Rodley JP on 3 May 1933, with the Mayor, Councillor J W Dutton JP present.
Down the hill and across the way the delightfully traditional Sixties Italian Coffee Bar the legendary San Remo.
Though way out of our period – one cannot ignore the looming presence of Rochdale Town Hall.
Widely recognised as being one of the finest municipal buildings in the country – built in the Gothic Revival style at a cost of £160,000 in 1871. The architect, William Henry Crossland, was the winner of a competition held in 1864 to design a new Town Hall. It had a 240 foot clock tower topped by a wooden spire with a gilded statue of Saint George and the Dragon, both of which were destroyed by fire on 10 April 1883, leaving the building without a spire for four years. A new 190 foot stone clock tower and spire in the style of Manchester Town Hall was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and erected in 1887.
The adjoining Police Station – also by Booth, has recently undergone refurbishment.
Let’s bob on to see the Seven Sisters – towering majestically above the town.
Building contractors were Wimpey and the flats were designed by Rochdale’s Borough Surveyor, Mr W H G Mercer and Mr E V Collins who worked with George Wimpey and Company’s chief architect D. Broadbent.
On Friday October 1 1965 the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Richard Crossman, officially opened the first of the College Bank flats – Underwood.
Charles Donald Taylor – The Construction of College Bank Flats
Of note is the one remaining example of ceramic entrance murals, the work of George and Joan Stephenson 1966 – lecturers at the Rochdale College of Art.
All six murals survived until around 1995, when the residents were asked to vote on whether or not to keep them, five out of six blocks voted to have them removed.
As of November 2109 – the College Bank Support Group is working with a group of architects to draw up alternative plans. RBH has said it will consider them if they are feasible and sustainable, as well as safe and genuinely affordable for tenants and residents.
A striking and effective design from the early 1960s by Desmond Williams & Associates. The robust interior is well-lit and serves its purpose effectively, but the church does not contain furnishings and artworks of particular note.
I have admired the work of Bernhard and Hilla Becher ever since seeing their photographs in the one and only Tate at the time, in old London town.
An early example, possibly twelve small black and white prints of pit head winding gear, assembled in a three by four grid.
I became intrigued by the notion of serial art and typology, later in the seventies working as a Systems printmaker.
Very much in the tradition of Max Bill and Richard Paul Lohse.
In more recent years I have worked as a documentary photographer, at time paying homage to Bernhard and Hilla.
By placing several cooling towers side by side something happened, something like tonal music; you don’t see what makes the objects different until you bring them together, so subtle are their differences.
So on hearing of their exhibition at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, I excitedly booked my train ticket from Manchester.
Saturday 29th February 2020 – an auspicious Leap Year – knowingly taking a leap into the known unknown.
Braving the imminent threat of Storm Jorge.
I was given the warmest of welcomes by the gallery staff, spending a good while chatting to James, a fellow enthusiast.
My first surprise was the Bechers’ drawings, painting and notebooks.
Then onwards into two large, light spaces, with the work – actual Becher archive prints, displayed with the reverence that they deserve.
Given space to breath, in a calm contemplative area.
With a quiet attentive audience.
So here that are in situ – worth the wait, worth the train ticket, worth the two way seven hour rail trip. Seeing the prints close up reading the exposure, the thrill of the dodge and burn, a lifetime’s ambition realised.