A former Victorian bakers at the heart of one of Leeds’s oldest streets has been given a new lease of life thanks to a major regeneration scheme.
Project bosses and developers used their loaf to revamp and revitalise the empty building at 90 Kirkgate as part of the innovative Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).
Records from 1852 show that 90 Kirkgate was used as a bakers and confectioners by Peter Proctor and, prior to that, in 1839 Thomas Collison ran a pawnbroker shop there.
Today, the newly-completed work has brought three floors back into use, with repairs to the interior being carried out along with reinstatement of the traditional shopfront, installation of timber sash windows and some new Yorkstone flags in the adjacent ginnel.
The project was made possible after the owners applied for a £105,133 grant through the Townscape Heritage Initiative, which aims to protect, preserve and restore historic buildings on Lower Kirkgate.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said:
“It’s fantastic to see another piece of Leeds’s history being brought back into use in a way which both respects the building’s special heritage and makes it a modern and sustainable asset to this up-and-coming area.
“The Townscape Heritage Initiative has been an incredible boost to the Lower Kirkgate area, transforming neglected buildings and ensuring this important chapter in the story of Leeds is not forgotten.
“Its success is also huge credit to the innovation and imagination shown by our local businesses and our regeneration team, who have worked together throughout this exciting and important project.”
Financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Leeds City Council, the THI aims to protect and restore the historic character of buildings in the Lower Kirkgate area, which is the city’s oldest street.
The project at 90 Kirkgate follows the successful opening of both Wapentake at 92 Kirkgate, as a traditional Yorkshire café and next door at the Doghouse which is a café and bar, with Paula’s Vinyl record shop above.
Further grants and improvement projects are being pursued for other buildings on Lower Kirkgate that they can be brought back into use and improved in the same way.
The repairs have also enhanced the character and appearance of the City Centre Conservation Area and the setting of the grade II* listed First White Cloth Hall.
Building owner Carter Towler’s director in charge of the project Chris Priestley added: “The project took over 18 months in the design and planning stages, but thanks to the THI, a severely dilapidated building has been returned to its former glory. The strong interest shown in this building and those already refurbished, is a clear indication of the value of the THI to small local businesses.”
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