Leeds ,

Historic 18th Century building set for major facelift

A project to protect and preserve a key part of Leeds's heritage is set to begin thanks to a major funding package, financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Leeds City Council.

A grant of £110,000 will be used to repair 92 Kirkgate as part of the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), with work set to begin on site soon.

This is one of a number of historic buildings that have been part of the Kirkgate landscape since the 18th Century and which form part of the THI project.Work on 92 Kirkgate will include repointing in lime mortar, re-roofing with stone slate, installation of sash windows and reinstatement of a traditional shop front.The specialist work will not only restore the architecture, but will be in keeping with the nature of the building and the aesthetic of the area as a whole.

“The restoration of 92 Kirkgate will be the first step in a genuinely ambitious project to transform what is one of the oldest parts of Leeds city centre.

“This project, alongside work on the nearby White Cloth Hall, shows that with help from the council through the Townscape Heritage Initiative, investment can and will take place in the Kirkgate area.

“This part of Leeds is steeped in history but has been neglected for far too long and we need to act now to invest in the area and ensure it is not lost.

“By making this investment, we will not only be protecting the history of the area but bringing these buildings back into use and in turn stimulating business and economic growth and thereby recouping our investment in the long term.

“Lower Kirkgate is a key part of our city’s heritage and I am confident this scheme will help change its fortunes for the better and restore this important area to its former glory.”
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning

Historically, the Kirkgate area was a centre for the cloth industry, with the First White Cloth Hall being the first covered trading hall in Leeds.

Although 92 Kirkgate would originally have been a cloth merchant’s house, Pigots Directory shows that once the trade moved elsewhere in the city, it was used by house and sign painter Joseph Lucas in 1829 and then grocer Francis Thornton in 1834.

The building is the first of a number in the area which will be transformed and brought back into use in the same way, with grants being pursed for further major improvement projects.

Survey works have recently finished on the First White Cloth Hall and specialist conservation architects are currently considering how the building could be restored in future.

If a viable scheme is identified it is hoped that repair and rebuilding will be able to begin in 2017.

The Townscape Heritage Initiative also aims to protect and restore the historic character of a number of other buildings in the lower Kirkgate area and in total £1.05m has been awarded to the project from the HLF, which will be matched with £668k public funding.This, along with £894k potential private funding, could bring the total investment to an estimated £2.6m.