Park Lane ran west from Guildford Street, past the Town Hall and alongside the Park Estate development, and was also included in the Headrow widening scheme. The area in front of the Town Hall, was already an open space, Victoria Square, with statues of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel. The site between Calverley Street and Cookridge Street, including Alexander Street was to be cleared. It was planned not to build on the site, but to have a large public space there. This site became the Garden of Remembrance, (or Garden of Rest.)
In front of the Municipal Buildings between Centenary Street and Park Lane was a row of properties which included at its western end, the old Leeds Permanent Building Society Headquarters. In 1876 the Society acquired 'buildings now occupied by Messrs. Swaine and Coleman at the corner of Park Lane and Calverley Street, together with the land on which Mr. Thorpe has his sculpture works.' The existing building, a woollen warehouse, was altered and extended, in a style to complement the new Municipal Buildings. Between the Leeds Permanent Building Society and the Municipal Buildings was a block of offices known as Calverley Chambers. The photograph shows both buildings; it also shows how narrow Park Lane was at that time.
At the other end of this block, beside Alexander Street, was Wharton's Hotel. On Fowler's map of 1831 the site was shown as open fields, but the hotel is listed, as the Victoria Hotel, in an 1839 directory, so it was built sometime in the 1830s. In 1845 it became Wharton's Hotel, named after the landlord, John Wharton. The landlady at the time of its demolition in 1929-30 was Mrs.Ella Smith. The shops in the centre of the block were also demolished. Between Alexander Street and Cookridge Street stood Pitman's School.
In December 1936 it was decided to create a Garden of Remembrance on the site in front of the Municipal Buildings and the Art Gallery. The architect was J E Proctor, and the scheme was to include the War Memorial, which originally stood in City Square. The site was paved and provided with flower beds. The war memorial was designed by H C Fehr, and was dedicated on 14th October 1922. It consisted of a bronze statue of a winged Victory, on a base of Portland stone. On opposite sides of the base are two other bronze figures representing War and Peace. In 1936 changes to the traffic system in City Square meant that the memorial had to be removed, and it was decided in January 1937 to move it to the new Garden of Rest on the Headrow.
The Garden of Rest was opened on 28th October 1937 by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Mr. Tom Coombs; the opening ceremony was followed by a re-dedication of the War Memorial.
In 1940, a crack was found at the base of the statue, and it was taken down for repairs. Because of fears of bomb damage during the war it was not replaced until 1946. Wind damage caused the statue to be taken down again in 1965, and in 1967 the memorial was capped with marble. The 'Winged Victory' was removed to Cottingley Crematorium, where it remained until November 1988. By this time it had deteriorated so badly that it could not be repaired, and was taken down permanently. The head has survived, and is now in the City Museum.
In 1990 it was decided to place a new statue on top of the War Memorial. This was not to be a copy of the old 'Winged Victory', but a statue of an Angel of Peace. The sculptor was Ian Judd, and the statue was dedicated at a Remembrance Day Ceremony on 10th November 1991. In October 1955 the mainmast of the Isle of Man steamer 'Viking' was erected behind the War Memorial as a flagstaff and saluting base. The 'Viking' had been a sea-plane carrier in the 1914-18 war, and was used again in 1939, when she carried troops to France. After the fall of France she was involved in the evacuation of St. Valery, Le Havre, and Cherbourg, and later took part in the Normandy landings. The Leeds Corporation Works Department obtained her mast from a ship-breakers yard.
The layout of the Garden of Remembrance was altered in 1982 when the Henry Moore Sculpture Gallery was built. Centenary Street, which ran between the Garden and the Municipal Buildings and Art Gallery was replaced by a paved area.
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Map of site
Leeds Permanent Building Society, old building, 1928
Buildings before demolition, 1928
Buildings before demolition, 1928
Cleared site in 1932
Cleared site in 1934
Completed Garden of Remembrance