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Modern Briggate
During the last two decades of the twentieth century, conservation of historic buildings became an important consideration when planning city centre development. This change in attitude has saved the historic buildings on Briggate from further destruction. Thornton’s Arcade and Queen’s Arcade have been sympathetically refurbished and have regained something of their original atmosphere.

An important development has been the restoration of the area known as the Victoria Quarter. The County Arcade has been restored to its former glory and in 1990, Victoria Street was given a new and beautiful glass roof, forming yet another arcade. All the shop fronts, names and street furniture are in keeping with the original Edwardian design of Frank Matcham. This includes the Harvey Nichols store which was built on the site of the old Empire Theatre in the late 1990s.
But by far the area’s most significant development is Trinity Leeds.

The £350m Trinity Leeds shopping centre, based on Albion Street, opened on March 21, 2013, a year later than originally scheduled but well worth the delay for seasoned shoppers of which more than 130,000 turned up to the opening.  The site is made up of the redeveloped Leeds Shopping Plaza whilst also replacing the demolished Burton and Trinity Arcades. Trinity Leeds is spread over three floors with the majority of the third floor dedicated to food and drink establishments. A sweeping glass domed roof crowns the immaculately designed building which in 2015 won an award for the ‘Best of the Best’ designed shopping centre in the world.

The busy shopping centre houses more than 120 shops and averages around two million visitors a month. A notable aspect of Trinity Leeds includes concept food area Trinity Kitchen which hosts seven permanent food establishments as well as various pop-up food vendors which change on a monthly basis. Trinity Leeds is also home to the first Everyman cinema in the North of England which is also the largest Everyman in the entire UK.

Despite all the changes which have taken place in Briggate since it was founded in 1207, there is much that still remains to remind us of the past. Yards and courts, like Hirst’s Yard and Queens Court, both now redeveloped, remain to remind us of their origin in the burgage plots of medieval Briggate. The Ship Inn Yard, narrow and dark, takes us back to Victorian Leeds. Much of Frank Matcham’s magnificent redevelopment remains, as do other landmarks of the old Briggate such as the building that housed Dyson’s the jewellers, along with its famous clock. Whitelock’s, a pub since 1715, and its adjoining worker’s cottages are still there in Turk’s Head Yard, and so is the plaque, marking the old entrance to the Bay Horse Yard. Look up above the modern shop fronts and there are the facades of the old buildings.
Briggate is now a pedestrian precinct, something the Improvement Commissioners of the eighteenth century would have approved of! There are seats to sit on, trees, and baskets of flowers. The shops on the street and in the arcades are beyond the Victorian shoppers’ wildest dreams! Briggate is indeed still ‘a fair and well-built street’.

Click images to enlarge
Victoria Quarter, fountain, 1999
Victoria Quarter, fountain, 1999
Ship Inn Yard, 1999
Ship Inn Yard, 1999
Bay Horse Yard, plaque
Bay Horse Yard, plaque
Pedestrian Precinct, 1999
Pedestrian Precinct, 1999




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