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Town Hall

A Grade I Listed Building in City and Hunslet, Leeds

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Latitude: 53.8003 / 53°48'0"N

Longitude: -1.5498 / 1°32'59"W

OS Eastings: 429752

OS Northings: 433866

OS Grid: SE297338

Mapcode National: GBR BHK.PH

Mapcode Global: WHC9D.5R80

Entry Name: Town Hall

Listing Date: 19 October 1951

Last Amended: 11 September 1996

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1255772

English Heritage Legacy ID: 465669

Location: Leeds, LS1

County: Leeds

Electoral Ward/Division: City and Hunslet

Built-Up Area: Leeds

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Leeds St George

Church of England Diocese: Leeds

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Listing Text


714-1/75/415 (North side)
19/10/51 Town Hall
(Formerly Listed as:
Town Hall including forecourt
retaining wall to south and


Town hall. 1853-58, altered 1877. By Cuthbert Brodrick,
sculptures by John Thomas. Alterations 1877 by AW Morant, the
Borough Surveyor. Millstone grit from approx 17 different
quarries including Rawdon Hill (for carvings), Sturdy and
Pool; Darley Dale stone from Derbyshire used in many of the
columns; slate and lead roof. Portland stone lions by William
Day Keyworth of London, 1867.
STYLE: Classical/Baroque
EXTERIOR: 2 storeys over basement which is terraced into the
sloping ground to rear (Great George Street). Rectangular plan
with slightly projecting wings on S, W, and E sides and centre
on N side; a central public hall with court rooms and former
council chamber at the corners, linked by corridors and
offices. Round-arched windows throughout. On each facade the
heavily rusticated base supports a giant Corinthian order of
columns and fluted pilasters; an entablature surmounted by
balustrade with urns runs all round the building.
South front: the principal entrance is reached by a wide
flight of stone steps flanked by 2 plinths with stone lions;
basement entrances to left and right have giant pedimented
lintels and screen wall with paired globe-shaped lamp
standards. 10 giant Corinthian columns form a colonnade across
the recessed entrance which is composed of 3 paired doors with
ornate grilles below a round-arch tympanum with large
sculptured group representing Progress, Art and Commerce.
Set back above the south entrance the clock tower, approx
68.6m high, is composed of a deep plinth with rusticated
panels, scrolled corner brackets, paterae and coat of arms; a
square colonnade of 21 Corinthian columns supports a
pulvinated frieze, dentilled cornice, balustrade and urns;
openwork scrolled corner finials flank clock dials topped by
elongated lead-clad dome with concave sides surmounted by
cupola. 4 ornate ventilation shafts rise above the eaves line:
square in section, moulded panels with corner paterae, frieze
with flowers and swags, segmental pediment and corner urn

Rear (Great George Street): a cast-iron glazed canopy overlies
the central 3-arch entrance (originally to Civil and Criminal
Courts); 9 bays, the outer bays recessed, large keystones
carved with Mythical heads.
Left return (Oxford Place): the central 11-window range has a
round-arched basement entrance bay 2 with 8-panel studded
2-leaf doors and giant masks carved on the keystones; the
5-window flanking bays break forward, with giant fluted
pilasters; area railings with double gates are massive, with
close-set rails and spearhead finials.
Right return (Calverley Street): similar to Oxford Place front
with central entrance, divided steps and a screen wall with
rusticated plinth, cast-iron openwork panel and paired globe
lamp standards.
INTERIOR: ground floor: important surviving features include:
wall lamps with glass orbs flank 3 pairs of bronze glazed
doors to south vestibule, Minton floor tiles, fluted giant
pilasters, marble statue of Queen Victoria by Noble, statue of
Prince Albert.
The Victoria Hall has paired columns in antis, rams' heads and
owls in the capitals, barrel vault with painted and moulded
panels and mottos, ('Industry Overcomes All Things', 'God in
the Highest', etc); organ designed by Smart and William Spark
(organist to St George's church) and built by Messrs Grey and
Davisson, the ornament by Matthews and Crace; orchestra
remodelled 1904 by James Barlow Fraser; the gallery at the S
end originally very small, (a royal box?) and carried on large
console brackets, extended 1877, first as a bowed gallery
filling the rear bay, later a concave gallery front to fill 2
The N vestibule has 3 sets of paired glazed doors with
openwork gilded panels, inner row of round arches to corridor
with moulded vaulted ceiling, cornice, panelled doors and
reveals; statues of Robert Hall MP, 1857 by Dennis Lee, and
Edward Baines MP.
The Calverley Street entrance has double panelled doors with
brass handles, 2 brass wall plaques commemorate the opening of
the building by Queen Victoria on 7 September 1858 and the
status of 'City' conferred 1893.
The Albert Room, former Council Room (SE corner) is richly
detailed, with dado moulding, paired fluted pilasters with
Ionic capitals and owls, frieze of scrolls, rams' head masks,
coved ceiling with glazed top-light in the form of a low dome,
painted glass in blue and yellow; gallery at W end, fittings
The Borough Court, now Court No.3 (SW corner) has pedimented
door cases, Corinthian pilasters, dentilled cornice, coved

ceiling, top light with central glazed panel and ventilator
pendant; the canopy over the judge's bench has egg-and-dart
moulding, the dock and wooden fittings appear original;
gallery with cast-iron balustrade (flower motifs, wooden
handrail) and moulded tiles on rear wall.
The former Civil Court, now No.2 Court (NE corner), fitted up
1863, has an inserted ceiling but paired pilasters and roll
mouldings visible in office above; panelled partitions in well
of court appear original, the bowed gallery front has moulded
balusters, flower and leaf motifs, moulded wooden handrail,
stepped bench seating.
The former Criminal Court, (?Crown Court) now Court No.1 (NW
corner): damaged by fire 1991, it has a fine carving of the
royal arms over the E entrance; interior not inspected.
Corridors lined with decorative tiles added 1877; cantilevered
stone staircases at the N and S ends of the W corridor and the
N end of the E corridor have cast-iron balustrade with moulded
wood handrails and elaborate cast-iron paired security gates
mid-way up. A staircase down to the basement on the E side of
the Hall is of 2 flights, with cast-iron openwork scrolled
panels and wooden handrail.
The remaining ground-floor rooms retain original features
including marble fireplaces, panelled window reveals,
plasterwork. A concealed spiral stair E of the S vestibule
rises through the full height of the building and has plain
square-section balusters; it is oval in plan.
Basement: the large room beneath the Victoria Hall has
cast-iron columns supporting the floor above, inserted
ceiling; the W side of the plan occupied by bridewell,
original cell partition walls at N end removed, steps up to
court room intact; centre: corridor original, rooms
partitioned; S end: some small cells remain under the entrance
colonnade area; they have substantial board doors and probably
date from the 1867 alterations to the front after the decision
was made to move the West Riding Court of Assize to Leeds. The
E side of the building is occupied by kitchens.
Main roof: innovative use of laminated wood beams, 12 each of
9" x 1 1/2" held by wrought-iron bolts, spanning the approx
22m width; thought to be the first example in wood, taken from
the designs of the Crystal Palace (Paxton 1850-51) and Kings
Cross station (Cubitt 1851-54).
HISTORICAL NOTE: a competition judged by Sir Charles Barry
gave the 1st prize to Brodrick, to design a Town Hall with
public hall, corporate offices and courts of justice; the cost
to be »35,000. Foundations laid 17 August 1855, the exact use
for all parts of the building still not clear; the contractor
was Samuel Atack. Problems arose from the architect's
determination to see the scheme through 'whatever the cost'

while Atack was unable to find an adequate margin of resources
and went bankrupt in March 1857. Contractors for the tower and
interior work were Addy and Nicholls. The Council made
alterations to the layout of rooms throughout the work. The
tower was added in 1856 after a suggestion by Barry, and in
1858 the clock was installed. The ventilator towers followed
extensive discussion and study and were copied elsewhere;
Barry, Hardwick and Paxton all visited the site while work was
in progress. The organ was installed in 1858 and was regarded
as the 'crowning glory'; town halls elsewhere followed suit.
The coal cellars were made in 1863 and painting and cleaning
throughout, including the Hall, took place in 1864. In 1867
Brodrick suggested that a larger skylight be put in each of
the courts. The final cost of the building was »125,000.
The arrangement of rooms reflects the 4 main uses to which the
Town Hall was put: i) police cells and offices in basement
area, S and W sides; ii) ground-floor court rooms for the
borough, criminal and civil courts in the SW, NW, and NE
corners with court rooms, jury rooms and other offices on
ground and 1st-floor corridors between; iii) the ground-floor
council room in the SE corner, with town clerk's offices,
mayoral and committee rooms on the east side ground and 1st
floors; iv) the central public hall, approx 49m x 22m and 23m
high with S gallery and N stage with apsidal recess housing
the organ.
The basement also housed the kitchens, (E side) and a public
meeting/refreshment room beneath the central hall, together
with boiler rooms and organ blowers. The south entrance with
elaborate vestibule was ceremonial while the north entrance
was for more official use.
(Cunningham, CJK (Leeds University): A study of Town Halls of
the C18 and C19 (PhD thesis): Leeds Univ PhD: 1974-; Linstrum,
D: West Yorkshire Architects and Architecture: London: 1978-:
376-77, 382).

Listing NGR: SE2975233866

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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