The Victoria Quarter

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Leeds, Briggate, The Victoria Quarter
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Leeds, County Arcade, Detail

The VICTORIA QUARTER, between Briggate and Vicar Lane was a spectacular redevelopment of the meat market slum area in 1898-1904 by Frank Matcham, for the Leeds Estates Company. He designed a unified group of three blocks, each of three storeys and an atticGlossary Term, the flamboyantGlossary Term warm pink and buff terracottaGlossary Term facades elaborately decoratedGlossary Term in a free Jacobean/BaroqueGlossary Term style with swags, strapworkGlossary Term and scrolls, Dutch gables, domes and corner turrets."

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Leeds, County Arcade

The first block contains the T-plan COUNTY ARCADEGlossary Term, 120m long with an opening off its north side, originally containing the County Restaurant.

The interior symbolised the city's wealth and confidence overall and glows with exuberant decoration in marble, mosaic and Burmantofts faienceGlossary Term. Mahogany shop fronts with curved glass display cases are separated by columns and pilasters of Sienna marble which carry balustraded balconies and stone ball finials.

The painted cast-iron roof has three glazed domes with richly-coloured and gilded mosaics in the pendentives. At the ends there are female heads labelled 'Liberty', 'Commerce', 'Justice', and the rest, while in the central dome full figures represent Leeds industries. The arcadeGlossary Term was successfully restored by Derek Latham and Co. 1988-90 who rescued the arcadeGlossary Term and streets from a decline which had left only six of the original fifty shop fronts intact.

Victoria Street

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Leeds, Queen Victoria Street
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Leeds, Cross Arcade

At the same time of the restoration of the County ArcadeGlossary Term, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET was enclosed as a new arcadeGlossary Term beneath a splendid stained glass roof (by Brian Clarke,1990), carried on tall slim columns above eavesGlossary Term level, with a bright abstract pattern like woven fabric - blue with yellow, red and green.

The Cross Arcade

The block south of Queen Victoria Street contained the CROSS ARCADEGlossary Term. The shops on either side of its entrance were occupied by the first 'Penny Bazaar' operated by Marks & Spencer Ltd, 1904.

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Leeds, Cross Arcade
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Leeds, Harvey Nichols

Inside the arcadeGlossary Term is the former entrance to the EMPIRE PALACE THEATRE, one of a chain developed by the impresarios Moss and Stoll and mostly designed for them by Matcham. It was replaced by a dismal arcadeGlossary Term in 1961.

The space then successfully converted in 1997 by Brooker Flynn Architects with Hosker Moore & Kent for Harvey Nichols. They inserted the full-height glazed curtain wallGlossary Term and exposed steel structure on the Briggate frontage, but sensitively framed by moulded brick pilasters to match the original building.

King Edward House

The glorious Matcham style continues in the third and final part of the scheme, the block along KING EDWARD STREET. This served several purposes.

KING EDWARD HOUSE was offices.

On the ground floor were the COUNTY CAFE and KING EDWARD RESTAURANT on the corner with Fish Street. The latter can be identified by gold mosaic wall plaques high up, representing fish, game and wine.

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Leeds, King Edward Street
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Leeds, King Edward Street, King Edward House
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Leeds, King Edward Restaurant


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