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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 re-furbished, and have regained something of their original atmosphere.

Perhaps the most 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. The site of the old Empire theatre is occupied by Harvey Nichols store.

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 re-developed, 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. Whitelocks, 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