Leeds' Headrow

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Leeds, Headrow, General View

The HEADROW is one of Leeds's major streets. It takes its name from the old track that lay along the headland or fieldGlossary Term boundary in the north of the old town. This crossed Briggate, the town's main street during the Middle Ages. On the west side it was called Upperhead Row, on the south side Lowerhead Row. Leeds' new Town Hall was built at the far end of Upperhead Row in 1853-8.

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Leeds, Headrow, Plan of old streets

The narrow medieval street was still in use until the 20th century when the City Corporation decided to widen the road and demolish some of the slums. From a mess of little streets they built one big avenue stretching across the city centre from east to west. At the same time, a new road, Eastgate, was made to continue the street as far as Quarry Hill where the Corporation were beginning to build a celebrated new housing estate.

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Leeds, Headrow, Permanent House drawing

Sir Reginald Blomfield made the design for this ambitious scheme in 1924. The north side of the Upper and Lower Headrow were cleared and big new offices and shops were built. The new road was eighty feet wide. The classicalGlossary Term style of new buildings was very similar to the facades along London's Regent Street. That is because Sir Reginald Blomfield had been employed there in the 1920s and finished his work there before designing the Headrow.

Building began in 1929 but the outbreak of the Second World War halted the work. All the buildings had to be in a similar style and continued to influence the design of the offices and shops that were built here after 1945. Only in the 1960s did the austere classicalGlossary Term style finally give way to modern office blocks

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Leeds, Headrow, Permanent House detail



A term used for the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome, revived at the Renaissance and subsequently imitated around the Western world. It uses a range of conventional forms, the roots of which are the orders, or types of column each with its fixed proportions and ornaments (especially Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). Classical buildings tend also to be symmetrical, both externally and on plan. Classical architecture in England began c. 1530 with applied ornamental motifs, followed within a few decades by fully-fledged new buildings.


The central flat area within panelling, often slightly projecting (raised and fielded panelling).