The main entrance to Leeds Town Hall. The Town Hall was built between 1853 & 1858 on park Lane (now the Headrow) to a design by architect Cuthbert Brodrick.
Until the early 1813, the Moot Hall, situated at the top of Briggate, served as the county seat for Leeds Corporation and was also used for judicial purposes. This was replaced by a new Court House on Park Row, Leeds.
Leeds went through a period of rapid growth in the first half of the 19th century and by the mid 1800s it became apparent that the court house was no longer large enough for the functions it performed.
In July 1850, Leeds Borough Council sought to build a new town hall and established a committee to assess the opinions of Leeds’ inhabitants as to the building of a new municipal hall.
Looking to finance the new hall, the Council proposed to sell shares in the building to the value of £10, this method quickly failed. The council then proposed to introduce a specific rate to be levied on its inhabitants to fund the building of a town hall. The tax was not introduced until after the November 1850 local election, although most of the inhabitants of the city who would have paid the tax at the time lacked voting rights.
The town hall was finally approved in January 1851, when Alderman Hepper put the motion to the council and it was carried by 24 votes to 12.2
As well as being a functional building, Leeds Town Hall was proposed to represent Leeds’s emergence as an important industrial centre during the Industrial Revolution and is a symbol of civic pride and confidence. Leeds Corporation tendered for designs from architects to design a town hall for Leeds. The contract was won by Cuthbert Brodrick, a previously unknown young Kingston upon Hull born architect who had trained in Paris.
The town hall is one of the largest town halls in the United Kingdom and as of 2008 it was the eighth tallest building in Leeds (several taller monstrosities have now appeared in the skyline). The Town Hall was opened by Queen Victoria, highlighting its status as an important Victorian civic structure. It is a Grade I listed building.
With a height of 225 feet (68.6 m) it was the tallest building in Leeds from its construction in 1858 until 1966, when it lost the title to the Park Plaza Hotel, which stands 8 metres (26 ft) taller at 77 metres (253 ft). It has held the title longer than any other building, a record 108 years. The distinctive clock tower, which serves for many as a symbol of Leeds as well as having become visually iconic of local government nationally, was not part of the initial design but was added by Brodrick in 1856 as the civic leaders sought to make an even grander statement.
Taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ38
3 bracketted exposures +1, 0 -1
Tonemapped in Photomatix pro
Finished in Picasa 3