Yorkshire Photos 1: Leeds

Leeds is, to put it politely, not the most beautiful city you’ll ever see. There are some nice Victorian buildings in the city centre (I saw hardly anything that predated the 19th century), but the city suffered badly from a combination of war damage and postwar building boom (more on that later). The sad results of the postwar building boom are now gradually being torn down and while the replacements look somewhat better, they are still highrises.

And now a bunch of photos behind the cut:

Leeds City Square

Leeds City Square. The building in the background is the former central post office, which now houses a (very good) restaurant.

Black Prince Statue in Leeds City Square

This statue in Leeds City Square depicts Edward, the Black Prince, though the local pigeons mistake it for a resting and landing place and toilet. The building in the background is the art deco Queens Hotel.

Art Noveau statue in Leeds City Sqaure

Art Noveau lamp/statue in Leeds City Square. This one is called "Morning".

Art Noveau statue in Leeds City Square

This is "Evening", the pendant to the Art Noveau lamp/statue in Leeds City Square

Bird statue in Leeds City Square

This flying bird sculpture is attached to a highrise building on City Square. In the background you can see a Neogothic church, another highrise building and a crane.

Leeds Town Hall

The Victorian Town Hall of Leeds

Leeds Civic Hall

Leeds Civic Hall with an interesting sculpture in front of it.

Leeds Civic Hall

Close-up of Leeds Civic Hall with a golden owl statue and a stunning golden clock

Leeds City Museum

Leeds City Museum, flanked by "the Electric Press", which is now a pub, and an interesting modern building which looks like a gutted Zeppelin

Leeds Corn Exchange

The former Corn Exchange, now a shopping and restaurant centre

Leeds Corn Exchange

Inside the Corn Exchange

Candelabra inside Leeds Corn Exchange

A stunning Victorian candelabra inside the Corn Exchange

Inside the Victoria Hotel in Leeds

Inside the bar of the Victoria Hotel in Leeds

Sidestreet pub in Leeds

A historical pub in a sidestreet in Leeds. There were quite a few nice pubs nestled away in side streets and alleys.

Riverboat pub in Leeds

A riverboat converted into a student pub near Leeds University

Leeds City Market

Leeds City Market, a Victorian market hall

Inside Leeds City Market

Inside the market hall

Leeds City Market

Dragon-shaped roof beams inside the City Market

Leeds Thornton's Arcade

Carillon inside Thornton's Arcade, named for the chocolate manufacturer

Leeds County Arcade

County Arcade, yet another of the many Victorian shopping arcades in Leeds

Shopping arcade in Leeds

Interesting stained glass roof on a modern shopping arcade in Leeds

Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds

The spire of the Trinity Church and the brand new Trinity Shopping Centre, which is still under construction and will replace another shopping centre from the 1960s/1970s

I mentioned above that Leeds suffered extensively from postwar redevelopment and the construction of stunningly ugly buildings in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. This is largely due to John Poulson, a notoriously corrupt architect whose firm was headquartered in Leeds. However, John Poulson not just left his mark in the form of stunningly ugly buildings, he also left his mark on British pop culture by becoming the model for every corrupt businessman and villainous freemason in British crime drama (and British crime and screenwriters really don’t like freemasons). John Poulson analogues show up in Our Friends from the North, where he’s called John Edwards, and David Peace’s 1974, the first book in the Red Riding Quartet, where he’s called John Dawson and a lot more criminal than he ever was in reality, though he does get to be played by Sean Bean in the (not very good) Channel 4 adaption. The British do have a conflicted relationship to modern architecture, considering that another British Modernist/Brutalist architect was turned into a Bond villain by Ian Fleming.

Since the postwar building boom resulted in stunningly ugly buildings, a lot of them have been torn down in recent years and replaced by slightly less ugly buildings. Hence, very little of John Poulson’s work remains visible in his hometown, which is probably a good thing. His most famous building, Leeds International Pool, was torn down a few years ago, which I didn’t know and hence ended up staring at an empty plot of land, when I tried to find it. However, here is another example of John Poulson’s work that still remains in Leeds:

Leeds City House

City House, which was built by the infamous John Poulson on top of Leeds Central Station. Behold the stunning ugliness.

And now for some art, including two potential Banksy works I spotted.

Vintage clock installation

An art installation of vintage clocks inside Leeds Central Station

Potential Banksy work in Leeds

Graffiti on a fence around a construction site that looks a lot like Banksy's work. The monkey has the face of George W. Bush, while Colin Powell's head, topped by a halo, floats on the right side

Potential Banksy work in Leeds

Another potantial Banksy graffiti on a construction site fence in Leeds

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4 Responses to Yorkshire Photos 1: Leeds

  1. Estara says:

    For Leeds to not be very pretty you really managed a goodly amount of interesting and beautiful photography ^^ – whether the graffit is Banksy nor not, it is interesting.

    • Cora says:

      Well, I only photographed the pretty bits – except for the John Poulson building to demonstrate its ugliness. I totally agree on the graffiti BTW. Banksy or not, they’re interesting.

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed the photos.

  2. Pingback: Yorkshire Photos 2: York | Cora Buhlert

  3. Yorkshire Photos 1: Leeds | Cora Buhlert: Leeds is, to put it politely, not the most beautiful city you'll ever … http://t.co/i3GuHzDA

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