Heritage celebrations set to shine a light on New Briggate regeneration work: Heritage Open Days

24 Aug 2022

Heritage celebrations set to shine a light on New Briggate regeneration work

City centre

The past, present and future of a much-loved Leeds street will be showcased in style next month with a series of events offering something for everyone.

New Briggate is playing host to the free programme of talks, tours and other activity as part of Heritage Open Days, the country’s largest festival of history and culture.

The events – being staged by Leeds City Council, East Street Arts and other partners – will also celebrate the progress being made on the New Briggate High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) regeneration project, a partnership between the council and Historic England.

They have been designed to give people the chance to find out more about the New Briggate of yesteryear – but will also highlight how the street’s proud past is helping to shape the regeneration of this vibrant and culturally-rich corner of the city centre.

The list of HAZ-related Heritage Open Days events being held on New Briggate includes:

  • A walking tour that will give an architect’s perspective – courtesy of Anita Rebaudo of Bowman Riley – on the complexities and challenges of protecting and refurbishing traditional buildings (1-2pm on Monday, September 12);
  • A walking tour that promises to unlock some of New Briggate’s historic and architectural secrets as it winds its way around locations earmarked for conservation and repair work via the HAZ project (1-2pm on Tuesday, September 13);
  • Archive film screenings presented by Hyde Park Picture House at St John’s Church – the oldest surviving place of worship in Leeds city centre (11am-4pm on Saturday, September 17);
  • A walking tour led by artist Yaku Stapleton that will examine New Briggate’s role in the story of Leeds’s clothing and tailoring trade (11-11.45am on Saturday, September 17);
  • A walking tour tracing the history of jazz in Leeds, with insight from expert Steve Crocker (12-12.45pm on Saturday, September 17).

The HAZ-related events on September 17 tie in with Hidden Histories of New Briggate, a HAZ cultural project being led by East Street Arts. Other Hidden Histories activity running on New Briggate between 11am and 3pm that day includes a display of old photos and fun art tasks, with members of the public being encouraged to share their own stories and pictures with the project team.

Leeds Civic Trust is also putting on two New Briggate events on Monday, September 12, as part of its wider programme of Heritage Open Days activity across the city. One is a performance of Morris dancing on New Briggate at 7.30pm, while the other will see poetry recitals taking place in St John’s Church between midday and 1.30pm.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council's executive member for economy, culture and education, said:

“As the home of historic landmarks like Leeds Grand Theatre, St John’s Church and the Grand Arcade, New Briggate has always had a fascinating story to tell.

“That story now has a new and exciting chapter, thanks to our High Street Heritage Action Zone regeneration work and other improvements made by the council and its partners.

“Next month’s Heritage Open Days programme is a perfect chance for people to learn more about the changes happening on New Briggate – changes that, I’m pleased to say, both respect and reflect the street’s history and the special memories it has created over the years.”

Alice Boulton-Breeze, programme producer at East Street Arts, said:

“The amazing history and heritage of our city is something East Street Arts has always been committed to learning about and celebrating, and the Hidden Histories of New Briggate project is a prime example of this work.

"The Hidden Histories activity taking place on September 17 will give a real insight into days gone by and lives lived on New Briggate. We’re excited to see what our collaborations with community groups, young people and our artists will bring over the rest of 2022 and 2023.”

Talking about 2022’s Heritage Open Days activity across Leeds as a whole, Jodie Stott, events and marketing officer at Leeds Civic Trust, said:

“Leeds Civic Trust is excited to see the return of England’s largest free heritage festival. Our Heritage Open Days activity this year celebrates Leeds innovations, inventors and discoveries. Leeds has an incredibly diverse history of innovation, and this year’s events will allow people to explore our great city and learn about discoveries that shape our lives today.

“This year will be one of our biggest festivals to date with over 140 listed events, look out for events on iconic figures such as John Smeaton, Louis Le Prince and Benjamin Gott.”

The HAZ’s main remit is the delivery of a heritage-led regeneration of New Briggate through the use of government-funded grants for repair work to buildings and public spaces.

Confirmed recently by the council, the first New Briggate HAZ grant will kickstart improvements to a line of four shops and commercial units opposite Leeds Grand Theatre, restoring their historic features and character.

The HAZ activity complements other recent council-led improvements in the area, with a permanent traffic-free space – perfect for outdoor dining and socialising – being created on New Briggate by pedestrianising the lower end of the street.

For further information about this year’s Heritage Open Days programme, both in Leeds and nationwide, visit the festival website. Booking is required for some of the New Briggate events.


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team