2018 - click > to browse thumbnails - click pictures to browse images full size

Visit to Bradford, Halifax & Leeds

Sunbridge Wells did not quite live up to my expectations, but nevertheless it was an interesting place to visit briefly. Essentially it was a group of bars underground, not the shopping experience we came to see. Every spare wall space was filled with antique technology with an emphasis on microscopes.  

However, members were pleased to see Centenary Square and enjoy some fresh air. When we visited in 2013 the square’s pool was completely flooded.  This time it was only partially flooded and we could enjoy the space properly; the light, the fountains and the reflections                                                                                


For me, the most exciting architectural experience of the trip was a tour of the Piece Hall in Halifax on Wednesday morning. It surpassed all the other visits to Bradford and Leeds.
The work was carried out by Graham Construction with funding from Calderdale Council and a significant investment of 7 million by the Heritage Fund, with additional support from Garfield Weston and Wolfson Foundations. Piece Hall is now operational as The Piece. Hall Trust Charity.
The project comprised extensive conservation work on the Grade 1 listed building, a new extension to the East wall, including restaurants and conference facilities, and a redesigned accessible courtyard which provides a year round programme of events and festivals which are highly supported by the public.



This shopping centre is like many others in many respects, but what sets it apart are its glazed roofs. These span the streets, which are still discernable in the plan, but the ends of the spaces are open to the air. Roofs join by overlapping, protecting shoppers from the worst of the weather whilst maintaining a connection with the outside. Many of the eating places are cleverly clustered on the top floor next to the roofing giving diners a feeling of being outside, yet inside.
A sculpture of a packhorse carrying a roll of cloth, by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott dominates the central court. 



Several of us stopped to have a look at Leeds Kirkgate Market which became the largest indoor market in Europe when it opened​ in 1857.
Designed by  Joseph Paxton, it pushed technological and architectural boundaries by creating a cooled area for fishmongers bringing fresh produce from the coast. The glazed roof was added using glorious arching iron structures, now joyously painted. Today it is also full of colourful stalls selling flowers, fruit, meat and fish and a wide variety of other items. A real feast for the eye.                                                                  



Yet another Victorian building, opened in 1863, now a beautifully renovated retail centre .

Photos by Peter Rawson


Victoria Gate is the latest of Leeds’ shopping centres. Outside I was struck by the use of pattern in the brickwork. Inside, pattern was everywhere - on the walls, floors and glazed roof. The patterns on the first floor walls, inspired by Leeds’ traditions in textiles, are made of acid-etched concrete. As they ascend they extend into the roof which swirls upwards in parts to form circular lanterns. All made possible by digital technology which could translate drawings into complex, three-dimensional building components.
Two walkways join to sweep shoppers into  John Lewis, keystone to the development.
The lasting impression was one of quality and opulent glamour - full of shops you dare not enter for fear of not being worthy.                                                                                                                                                             



Between 1878 and 1900 Leeds built 8 arcades, 5 of which still stand today. Thornton’s, (above) Grade 2 listed, was the first arcade, completed in 1878. The arcade’s ornamentation is flamboyant and playful, with pointed arches, lancet windows and a cast-iron Gothic roof. Queen’s arcade, (below) opened in July 1889, ran parallel to Thornton’s arcade and its roof was also supported on ornamental cast-iron arches. The arcade was both a commercial and residential space, reflected in the design of its interior, which included a gallery-level promenade disconnected from the shops below.
The Cross and County arcades, also grade 2 listed, were built in 1900 and added to later when the glass roof was added to Queen Victoria St.  Built by the  theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1900 and centred on the Empire Theatre building, the new arcades include lavish ornamentation. There are marble columns, mosaic frescoes representing the arts and sciences in three domes, a gallery lined by a frieze of fruit in ceramic tiling with a cast-iron balustrade  and ornamental cast-iron arches supporting the glass roof.                               



The Tiled Café, a popular meeting place, was a welcome place to recover. Originally the library reading room, then a sculpture court, the magnificent Victorian Tiled Hall was renovated in 2007. By removing ceilings, plasterboard and fake walls the original extensive and beautiful tiled fabric of the room was visible in all its glory.
The Leeds Sculpture Collections  were displayed across two buildings. The collection covers abstract and figurative works in a wide range of materials, cultures and ages from both famous and infamous artists.
The Craft shop contained an extensive range of high quality ceramics, jewellery and printmaking.            



Another View Bradford, Halifax, Leeds

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