For over one hundred years, a group of resolute residents have perched sentry-like on the rainwater heads of several drainpipes around the James Graham Building at our Headingley Campus. These iron-clad owls bear the inscription “A. D. 1911” at which time the emerging building was known as the Education Block or Main Building. Largely unnoticed the paint caked birds have tenaciously hugged the brick face for over a century but they are not alone on campus, they have some green cousins who cling to nearby Bronte Hall. George Walter Atkinson, the architect of both buildings, was responsible for designing the overall layout of the campus with input from James Graham, Leeds Director of Education and Fred Broadbent, Leeds City Architect. Read more
Little is known about the two stone dogs that sat on plinths at the entrance of The Grange. Anecdotal evidence suggests they were in situ during the 1980s and may have been removed due to filming commitments on the Headingley Campus. They were made of white marble or alabaster and sat on plinths that are still in place outside the Grange. They were just some of the menagerie of animals, birds. mythological creatures and ornaments that could be found around The Grange dating from its former life as a private house. These creatures included a sphinx and a pair of lions that survived well into the twentieth-century. Early depictions of The Grange show an array of crouching animals and birds perched on the outer wall, all of these now lost. Behind The Grange was a stone building with a glazed roof, perhaps an orangery or conservatory. It was fronted by a long facade that featured statues and ornament in recesses, prominent were large stone eagles sitting along the top. Read more
St James’s Lodge on Woodhouse Lane was built in the 1790s for merchant Richard Lee. It was advertised for sale in 1809 after Lee's bankruptcy. During its lifetime it was a private residence, Harewood Barracks, Leeds High School for Girls and briefly in 1907 the newly formed City of Leeds Training College before the purpose built training college at Beckett Park was developed (now Headingley Campus). The site of St James’s Lodge is on the open area between the Leslie Silver Building and the Ring Road near our City Campus.
In 1922, the City of Leeds Training College erected a war memorial to fallen Students and Staff in the Great Hall of its Main Building. Although records are erratic, Mr. Todd, a tutor at the College appears responsible for instigating the idea of a memorial. He reported to the Old Students Association that funds had been raised through subscription but fell short of the total required and he suggested that the OSA make a contribution, which they did supplying the last £10 needed. It has not been recorded what the final price of the memorial came to. Read more
The Discobolus of Myron was the image chosen to be the logo of Carnegie College of Physical Training in the 1930s. Myron, an ancient Greek sculptor, was credited as the first artist to produce a style of work reproducing the rhythm, harmony and balance of the athlete in mid throw. The original bronze was lost and the image has come down to us from Roman copies of various sizes and media including those in marble and bronze. The Carnegie image is most likely a replica of the “Townley Discobolus”, which is held in the British Museum. Experts consider it to have an incorrectly restored head set at a different angle to the Myron original.
The discobolus featured on a variety of Carnegie literature and ephemera including sports kit, the famous 'teddy bear' tracksuits and badges. Students also wore a college blazer bearing an embroidered discobolus. The Carnegie Library held a replica statue, rediscovered in the attic space of Carnegie Hall a few years ago, it now has a prominent place in the entrance lobby of Carnegie.
Leeds Corporation’s decision to develop the estate of Kirkstall Grange as a teacher training college included an architectural competition announced in September 1909. The City of Leeds Education Department produced the grandly entitled “Instructions to Architects submitting Competitive Designs for the proposed City of Leeds Training College for Teachers, at Kirkstall Grange, Far Headingley, and Leeds.” The competition was limited to architects practicing in Leeds, entries were anonymous and stipulated they must not bear any marking or stamps revealing their origin. The Education Department set a deadline for noon on Saturday 18 December 1909, appointing Sir Aston Webb C.B. R.A. F.R.I.B.A. as Assessor. The Education Committee’s architect Fred Broadbent under the watchful eye of James Graham, then Secretary of Education in Leeds; devised a general scheme. This layout was supplied as a guide and stipulated that the style of architecture and materials were left to the competitors. What Leeds, and Graham in particular, was seeking was a solution to a deficiency of teacher training places but with an eye looking beyond Leeds. As Committee papers record, the College buildings should meet "not only local but the national demand for increased Training College accommodation". Read more
Originally The Grange on our Headingley Campus was a farm belonging to Kirkstall Abbey. It was called New Grange, a grange was a monastic sheep farm. As the name suggests it may have been established a lot later than neighbouring granges.The original grange buildings would have been run lay brothers who tended the abbey’s flocks, it is likely they also kept cattle and grew crops. In effect, the lay brothers may have acted as overseers, with the Abbey employing local labour to run their farm. Due to its proximity to the Abbey, New Grange may have acted as the home farm and been a mixed arable and pasture farm. Granges further afield helped establish the Cistercian monks at the root of the wool trade in Leeds and the city’s subsequent prosperity.
One of the more persistent stories associated with Headingley Campus relates to the trees on the Acre being arranged to record troop positions at the Battle of Waterloo. Like Chinese whispers, the rumour has been told and retold, sometimes distorted to incorporate the Battle of Trafalgar! The story appears in Joseph Sprittles’ 1961 essay about New Grange published by the Thoresby Society. He speculated that John Marshall who was tenant after the Battle was responsible for instructing that: ‘trees should be planted to represent the position of troops’. Sprittles made no mention where the trees were planted. The assumption has always been that they were on the Acre but Sprittles interpretation left open the possibility that the trees had been arranged over the wider parkland.
The Wade family who owned the land had not lived in the New Grange mansion since 1798 and showed little interest in its subsequent development. The Wades did have strong Army and Navy connections but on the whole, it seems unlikely that they were predisposed to undertake such a patriotic arboreal project.
A chance conversation with, local historian and former student of the City of Leeds Training College, David Thornton has offered up an alternative origin to the story. He recounted that during the late 1950s a member of the Beckett family had given a lecture to staff and students. The lecture was about this gentleman's time as a child living at what was then known as Kirkstall Grange. He recounted that there had once been a half-acre flower bed designed to represent the troop arrangement at the Battle of Waterloo.
Before demolition of the gardens and immediate grounds of Kirkstall Grange, to make way for the permanent home of the City of Leeds Training College, there had been an enclosed roughly rectangular garden on the site of the present Acre. Throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it had been used variously as formal, ornamental and kitchen gardens, at other times containing an orchard and fruit garden. Could this Beckett gentleman's account be the origin of the fabled Waterloo story passed down by staff and students at the College?
There has been a resurgence of interest in the history and heritage of the University recently. This chart, created by archivist Keith Rowntree, shows how the different colleges in Leeds gradually came together to form first the Leeds Central Colleges closely followed by Leeds Polytechnic that evolved into our University.
During the late 1950s and 1960s Leeds City Council began to draw together the senior colleges under their control onto one unifying site. The plot chosen was was an area just north of the Civic Centre bounded by St James Street (now Portland Way), Calverley Road, Woodhouse Lane and Fenton Street with Cankerwell Lane running through the middle. A maze of nineteenth-century close-knit squares and ginnels that included housing, warehouses, shops, pubs and a former eighteenth-century mansion and its pleasure gardens.
This was not the first time such an idea had been put forward, in 1936 a similar scheme was devised to bring the colleges of Art, Technology, and Commerce together on a site based around the Leeds Institute, City of Leeds and Thoresby High Schools further down Woodhouse Lane. The Second World War ended this scheme, but the idea was re-examined in post-war Leeds.
On the new site, the first building begun in 1953 was the Leeds College of Technology, Mechanical Engineering, built on the site of a former wood yard at the junction of Calverley Street and St James Street. This became known as A building and it was demolished in 2007 and is now the site of the new Creative Arts Building.
Throughout the 1960s the Colleges of Commerce, Technology, Art and Housecraft emerged adjacent Mechanical Engineering, a new startling, brutalist vision of concrete set in a sea of surrounding red brick. However, even, as the college buildings emerged the surrounding landscape was changing with the excavation of the Leeds Ring Road only yards away and the wholesale demolition of the surrounding streets.