A Walk along The Headrow

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Leeds, Headrow, Permanent House

The first building to be completed is nearest the Town Hall. It is called PERMANENT HOUSE and HEADROW BUILDINGS and was built in 1930-1. It is built of grey brick and Portland stoneGlossary Term. It provided offices for the Leeds Permanent Building Society. A plaque on the corner commemorates its opening. The neo-GeorgianGlossary Term style emulates the style of buildings of the 18th century, even though it was designed for very modern purposes. It has DoricGlossary Term pilasters and a balustrade with urns. This is similar to the balustrade of the Town Hall, which might have inspired Blomfield, but these are also familiar from his other buildings.

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Leeds, Headrow, Permanent House detail

Facing the Headrow is a tall carriage archGlossary Term surmounted by columns in antisGlossary Term. This feature is derived directly from Bloomfield's adaptation of the Quadrant, Regent Street, London. Originally it provided an archGlossary Term over Cross Fountain Street but is now the entrance to The LightGlossary Term shopping centre. The centre takes its name from the newspaper published for the staff.

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Leeds, Headrow, Leeds Building Society

With this building Sir Reginald Blomfield set the standard design for the rest of the scheme. Although other architects executed most of the other buildings they had to conform to the overall style and scale. On the south side of the Headrow is a building that shows the influence of Blomfield's design. The five storey offices of the LEEDS & HOLBECK BUILDING SOCIETY were opened on 18th March 1930 and extended on Albion Street in 1950. The architects Chorley, Gribbon and Froggitt tried to harmonise with the Blomfield scheme by using sand-faced brick, Portland stoneGlossary Term and the classicalGlossary Term ordersGlossary Term. The Yorkshire PostGlossary Term noted its 'handsome and restrained appearance', but it lacks the extravagant decoration of the main buildings along the north side.

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Leeds, Headrow, Headrow House

The decision to build the Headrow came at a bad time. First came the Wall Street Crash and then the Depression. This meant it was difficult to find money to build all the offices and shops which had been planned. Businesses were not keen to rent the ones which were complete. Even after the Second World War, there were still gaps that needed filling. On the north side of the Headrow is HEADROW HOUSE built in 1951-55 by Arthur S. Ash of London. It was the last building to be built of the ones planned in the 1920s. The first thing that you notice is that it's much taller than Permanent House. It is ten storeys tall. That's because when it was planned the street on its right was narrower so there was more space to build. But later the street was widened so the architect had to redesign it as a high-rise building. Even so, it tried to remain in sympathy with the style of the earlier blocks by using similar materials.

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Leeds, Headrow, Allders, detail

ALLDERS was built as Lewis's Department Store. It was designed in 1931 by Sir Reginald Blomfield & Sons and at the time of its opening was reputedly the largest store outside London. It was described as 'general drapers, tailors, boot makers, hatters, hosiers, outfitters, silk mercers and bankers'. At first the upper floors were not built and when local architects Atkinson & Shaw finally completed them after the war. The original design was altered slightly and without much decoration.

Did you know...the shop had to build a temporary furniture store on the roof in 1949?"

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Leeds, Headrow, Former cinema.jpg

East of North Briggate from Allders, the next block was built in 1930 and designed by George H. Shipley and G. W. Atkinson following the Blomfield style. Until recently it contained the old ODEON CINEMA. This was built as the PARAMOUNT THEATRE, with an interior by Frank T. Verity, one of the best cinema designers of his day.

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Leeds, Headrow, Lloyds Bank

Perhaps the best elements of the scheme are the BANKS at the junction of Headrow and Vicar Lane. On three of the four corners are four-storey banks with elaborate corner entrances surmounted by the badge of the banking house. Blomfield produced the design for the first one, Lloyds Bank (on the north-west corner) in 1930-32. It replaced an existing bank that had to be demolished when the old road was widened.

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Leeds, Headrow, Former Martin's Bank

The design was so successful that Martins Bank (NE) (now a building society) and Barclays Bank (SW) commissioned almost identical designs. These were completed in 1938.

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Leeds, Headrow, Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank was the only Blomfield design for the south side of The Headrow. The rest of this side was not altered. However, inspired by the grand style of the new buildings, owners of some of the old buildings started to remodel them in a similar classicalGlossary Term style. Nos.3-5, on the right of Barclays,was given a new front of glazed terracottaGlossary Term tiles. This is called Marmo and was made at Burmantofts.



Types include: Basket arch or Anse de Panier (French, lit. basket handle): three-centred and depressed, or with a flat centre. Chancel: dividing chancel from nave or crossing in a church. Crossing: spanning piers at a crossing in a church. Depressed or three-centred: with a rounded top, but curving inward more at the sides. Four-centred: with four arcs, the lower two curving inward more than the upper, with a blunt central point; typical of late medieval English architecture. Jack arch: shallow segmental vault springing from beams, used for fireproof floors, bridge decks, etc. Ogee (adjective ogival): a pointed arch with a double reverse curve, especially popular in the 14th century; a nodding ogee curves forward from the wall face at the top. Parabolic: shaped like a chain suspended from two level points, but inverted. Relieving or discharging: incorporated in a wall to relieve superimposed weight. Shouldered: with arcs in each corner and a flat centre or lintel. Skew: spanning responds not diametrically opposed. Stilted: with a vertical section above the impost i.e. the horizontal moulding at the springing. Strainer: inserted in an opening to resist inward pressure. Three-centred: see Depressed, above. Transverse: spanning a main axis (e.g. of a vaulted space). Triumphal arch: influential type of Imperial Roman monument, free-standing, with a square attic or top section and broad sections to either side of the main opening, often with lesser openings or columns. Tudor: with arcs in each corner joining straight lines to the central point. Two-centred: the simplest kind of pointed arch.


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 simplest and plainest of the three main classical orders, featuring a frieze with triglyphs and metopes. A Roman Doric column has a simple round capital with a narrow neck band and a plain or fluted shaft. A Greek Doric column has a thin spreading convex capital and no base to the column.


The architecture of the British Isles in the reigns of George I, II, III and IV, i.e. 1714-1830, in which the classical style and classical proportions became the norm for both major and minor buildings.

In antis

Of classical columns, set between pilasters or square columns of equal height, often within a portico.


Compartment of a window defined by the uprights or mullions.


The differently formalized versions of the basic post-and-lintel (column and entablature) system in classical architecture. The main orders are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. They are Greek in origin but occur in Roman versions. Tuscan is a simple variant of Roman Doric. The Composite capital combines Ionic volutes with Corinthian foliage. Though each order has its own conventions of design and proportion, there are many minor variations. Superimposed orders: orders on successive levels, customarily in the upward sequence of Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite.

Portland stone

A hard, durable white limestone from the Isle of Portland in Dorset. Portland roach is rough-textured and has small cavities and fossil shells.


Upright support in a structure.


Moulded and fired clay ornament or cladding; when glazed and coloured or left white often called faience.