For more than 160 years it’s been a stalwart of the Leeds skyline, marking off some of the most important moments in the city’s history.
Now a new addition to the iconic Leeds Town Hall clock will capture a moment in the life of modern Leeds for future generations as the building’s landmark refurbishment reaches a new stage.
Earlier today, a group of young people working with Leeds Museums and Galleries, installed a time capsule on the imposing timepiece, more than 200 feet above ground level.
The group, all aged 14-24, brought together a collection of objects which they feel encapsulate both their own personalities and the character of the city they live in in 2019.
Included in the capsule was a ‘Leeds Owl’ artwork by Holly Lanforth, a display about teenage life during the 2010s, nine Lego Mini Figure avatars created by nine of the Preservative Party, a ‘Cheeky Nando’s’ menu, a mobile phone and a Refugee Education Training Advice Service (RETAS) cookery book donated by Maria Abdulaziz who move to Leeds from Syria and 2018.
Ellie Smith, 24, a committed vegan whose Lego avatar shows her holding an apple, said: “It’s as close to putting ourselves into the time capsule as we can get.”
Fellow curator Callum Rushworth, 20, added: “It feels interesting to be preserved in a time capsule, in a good way! I don’t really want to be a chicken nugget scientist, I just thought it would be funny for people in the future to read it!”
Opened by Queen Victoria back in 1858, Leeds Town hall is currently undergoing extensive improvement work, including the creation of exciting new events spaces and facilities.
The refurbishment will also include new seating and enhanced sound proofing in the beautiful Victoria Hall, two new bars, a new event space for smaller events, more toilet facilities and a completely new interior decoration scheme for all public areas.
Leeds City Centre Box Office will also relocate to the Victoria Hall level of the town hall and a large, fully accessible reception area will be created.
Funding for the project, which will secure a key heritage asset, will come from Leeds City Council’s capital fund, with some of the costs of the interior refurbishments, including the organ and seating, funded by a public campaign.
Award winning architects Page\Park are now designing the scheme, with work expected to start in 2021. The building is scheduled to reopen in 2022 in time for the Leeds 2023 city-wide cultural festival.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, met the young people at the installation said: “The redevelopment of Leeds Town Hall is a landmark moment in the history of this beautiful heritage asset and it’s fitting that we capture exactly what it will mean to the city and the people who live here.
“This imaginative group of passionate young history-lovers have worked hard to capture what Leeds means to them and I hope in decades to come, when this time capsule is opened, it will give future generations an impression of the vibrant and diverse city that Leeds is in 2019.”
Matthew Sims, head of arts, events and venues at Leeds City Council added: “It’s been 150 years since the first roof was first installed. And if it was another 150 years before work needed to be done again the world will be a very different place. So, as a fun way to engage young people with the on-going development of this great building and help future historians in their work to understand the past we invited this brilliant group of young people from across Leeds to capture this moment in time for us.”
For further information, images and media requests contact:
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 378 9182
Communications Manager, Arts, Events & Venues, Leeds City Council
T: 0113 378 4948
Notes to editors:
• Roof Refurbishment work on replacing and refurbishing the roof and iconic clock tower of Leeds Town Hall began in October 2018 and will continue until November 2020. The current roof dates back to the original structure of the Town Hall which was completed in 1858.
• The design work for the roof project was created by NPS Leeds and the construction is being carried out by Bermar Building.
• The architectural renovation plan for Leeds Town Hall is being delivered by PagePark, an award-winning architectural practice undertaking work across the UK from their studios in Glasgow and Leeds. Current projects include Leeds Playhouse and Hyde Park Picture House
• Funding for the 17 million pound project comprises £5m for the ongoing work on the roof and £10m for interior refurbishments. The remaining £2m for interior refurbishments, including the organ and seating, will be raised by a public campaign. The refurbishment, which is funded from the council’s capital funds, delivers on its responsibilities for future generations to take care of this Grade 1 listed public asset.
Capital funding is separate from the annual revenue funding of council activities. Therefore investing in this refurbishment does not involve taking money away from other vital council services.