Historic Leeds building gets new lease of life
An historic building on one of Leeds’s oldest streets has re-opened this week as part of a major city centre regeneration scheme.
After an extensive refurbishment, 92 Kirkgate has opened its doors as Wapentake, a traditional Yorkshire café housed in an 18th Century building which was once a cloth merchant’s home.
The building has been restored thanks to a £110,000 grant from the Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative, financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Leeds City Council.
Work to bring 92 Kirkgate back into use has included repointing in lime mortar, reroofing with stone slate, installation of sash windows and reinstatement of a traditional shop front.
The new café is one of a number of historic buildings which form part of the THI project, which aims to protect and preserve an area which is a key part of the city’s heritage.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration transport and planning, said:
“It’s wonderful to see this important and historic building brought back into use in such a contemporary way and this is a major step on the road to returning this area to its former glory.
“Lower Kirkgate is such a fundamental part of the city’s heritage that has sadly been neglected for too long, and we are determined to not only see it preserved, but for the investment to take place that will help it become the thriving, vibrant place we know it can be.
“By helping businesses to see the potential in these buildings, we are confident that we can accomplish that vision and that Lower Kirkgate will once again be part of the heartbeat of Leeds.”
Records show that 92 Kirkgate would originally have been a cloth merchant’s house and Pigots Directory reveals it was also 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, including the First White Cloth Hall, with grants being pursed for further major improvement projects.
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 £1.5m 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.