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Guildford Street

Guildford Street ran from Cookridge Street to the junction of Upperhead Row with Woodhouse Lane. All the property on the north side of Guildford Street was demolished to make way for two major blocks of new buildings.

Between Cookridge Street and Upper Albion Street
The first building to be erected was the Leeds Permanent Building Society, (Permanent House), on the site of the old St. Anne's Cathedral which had been demolished in 1904. Work began in January 1928 and the building was completed in April 1930.

In 1929 work began on a block of shops on the site adjoining the new Leeds Permanent Building Society and stretching as far as Upper Albion Street. On the corner of Guildford Street and Upper Albion Street was the Guildford Hotel. It was listed as a Commercial Inn in directories from 1830, and is shown on the 1847 Ordnance Survey map as the second building in Upper Albion Street. Sometime during the 1890's it was extended to occupy the whole of the corner site, and was renamed the Commercial Hotel. Both the hotel and the adjoining shops were demolished to make way for the new buildings.

The site was already owned by the corporation who built the shops at a cost of 120,000. There were nine shops at ground level with four floors of offices above, 89 offices in all. The Leeds Electricity Department was situated on the corner of the building, with two shops fronting the Headrow, and one on Albion Street. They also had a demonstration theatre and offices on the first floor. The Inland Revenue rented 72 of the remaining offices and 3 were leased to Cadburys. The other shops on the ground floor were leased to Henry Playfair's shoe shop, Gestetner Duplicators, Lavenir Gowns and the Ingersoll Watch Co.

To allow for the widening of the street, the frontage of the shops was further north than the Guildford street shops had been. The entrance to Cross Fountain Street was through an archway between the new Leeds Permanent Building and the new block of shops.

Between Upper Albion Street and Woodhouse Lane.
At the north eastern corner of the junction of Upper Albion Street and the Headrow was the headquarters of the Leeds and Holbeck Building Society. The Society was founded in 1875 in Holbeck, and the original office was in the Holbeck Mechanics Institute. In 1877 it moved to premises on Albion Street, and in 1886 to the building on the Headrow. In 1924, it became clear that this would be demolished as part of the Headrow widening scheme. The Society purchased the properties across the road on the south west corner of the Albion Street- Headrow junction, and built a new head office there. It is still there to-day. Photgraphs show the old building in 1928, and the new building, across the road  in 1930.

Next door was Clay's shop selling glass, china and hardware, and then Greenwood's, which sold cycles and motorcycles, and which advertised the shop as 'the motorists rendezvous'. In 1911 Alfred Greenwood had extended his shop, and this was reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post: 'He is now extending his premises, and when the alterations are complete, they will give Mr. Greenwood floor space for the storage of cycles and motor cycles on the ground floor of over 800 feet, with a similar space overhead to be used as a store room and showroom for second-hand cycles and motor-cycles. Sometime ago, the National Cyclists Union induced Mr. Greenwood to provide free storage space for its members visiting the city, and when the new premises are complete-probably about Easter the same privilege will be granted to all motor-cyclists who are not always welcome at a city garage. With a huge frontage for display, roomy premises for storage, and the agencies for many of the leading types of pedal and motor-cycles, Mr. Greenwood is almost the cyclists 'universal provider'. The firm appears to have gone out of business after the shop was demolished.

On the corner of Guildford Street and Woodhouse Lane was Guildford House, which is listed in the 1851 Directory for Leeds; the curved outline of the building appears on the 1847 Ordnance Survey plan, and it is likely that it was built around that time. It may previously have been the site of the house of a Leeds merchant, James Brown. Jackson's 1889 guide to Leeds says that: James Brown died at his house in Woodhouse Lane in 1813. He was one of the merchant princes, his cropping shop being at the junction of Woodhouse Lane and Guildford Street. In 1928 Guildford House was occupied by Staines and Son Ltd. listed in directories as an 'Italian Warehouseman'. The 1881 census tells us that Joseph Staines was born in Essex, but that his children were born in Leeds. After demolition of the shop, Staines and Son moved to premises in Wade Lane. They also had a branch in Oakwood Parade which continued in business until the late 1970s.

Although the properties between Upper Albion Street and Woodhouse Lane were demolished in 1928, new buildings were not erected until 1955, when Headrow House was built.
Click images to enlarge
Map of Guildford Street, 1908
Map of Guildford Street, 1908
Leeds Permanent Building Society, completed
Leeds Permanent Building Society, completed
Guildford Street before demolition, 1928
Guildford Street before demolition, 1928
Guildford Street before demolition, 1928
Guildford Street before demolition, 1928
Archway to Cross Fountaine Street, 1928
Archway to Cross Fountaine Street, 1928
Guildford Street, buildings completed
Guildford Street, buildings completed
Entrance to Electricity Showrooms, c.1930
Entrance to Electricity Showrooms, c.1930
Leeds and Holbeck Building Society, 1928
Leeds and Holbeck Building Society, 1928
Leeds and Holbeck Building Society, 1930
Leeds and Holbeck Building Society, 1930
Greenwood's
Greenwood's
Guildford House
Guildford House




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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003