Someone from the seventeenth century would not recognise to-day's Headrow, although it is still a mixture of shops, inns and homes, as it was then. Some of the buildings there now, like the Guildford Hotel, have their origins in that early Head Row, and street names like Butts Court, remind us of when Leeds was a medieval borough with the Head Row as its northern boundary.
Some of the nineteenth century buildings still remain, like Thornton's Buildings, the Three Legs of Man Public House, and the Jubilee Hotel, and of course the Town Hall, the Municipal Buildings, and Oxford Place Centre.
Despite changes to the interiors, the façades of Sir Reginald Blomfield's 1930s buildings remain along the north side of the Headrow and on both sides of Eastgate. The central kiosk at the bottom of Eastgate is now a fountain, and the location for the statue by Graham Ibbeson of Flight Sergeant Aaron. However, the view from the bottom of Eastgate has changed; Quarry Hill flats are gone, demolished in 1975-78 and the West Yorkshire Playhouse now stands on part of the site.
Despite fears that restricting vehicular access to the Headrow would affect business, it is still a major shopping centre, where the St. John's centre, the Headrow centre and Allder's store, as well as smaller shops continue to prosper. The provision of car parks nearby has eliminated the need for on-street parking.
In fact the success of the Headrow as a shopping street was evident in 1998 when it was announced that a new shopping and leisure complex was to be built, centred on the old Leeds Permanent Building Society offices, Permanent House. Originally called the St. Anne's Quarter, it was finally named 'the Light', and cost £100m. The architects were Damond, Lock and Grabowski. In 1999 demolition work started on the 1960s office block, Albion House, and the interior of Permanent House and the adjoining buildings. The 1930s design of the exterior, by Sir Reginald Blomfield has been retained. Permanent House itself has become the 150-bed Radisson Hotel. The complex also houses the 13-screen Ster Century cinema, a fitness club and numerous shops, restaurants and bars. The main entrance to the complex is through the archway that once led to Cross Fountaine Street. This, along with Upper Fountaine Street, has been given a glass roof to make a huge arcade. Only part of the development was completed by the opening date, 12th November 2001. The hotel and the cinema were opened in early 2002.
The character of the Headrow is changing as the character of the city centre is changing. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, most of the old residential properties in the city centre were demolished or converted to shops and offices as people moved out to live in the suburbs. Now the city centre is once again becoming a place to live with the conversion of old office buildings to smart new city centre apartments. The Odeon cinema, which closed in October 2001, is to become luxury apartments, and Victoria House, opposite the Garden of Rest, has undergone a similar refurbishment.
|Click images to enlarge|
The Three Legs
Headrow Shopping Centre
Headrow Shopping Centre, interior