Stories from the Heritage at Risk List
In 2013, as part of an English Heritage pilot project, Leeds Civic Trust played a leading role in surveying Grade 2 listed buildings in Leeds. Led by Jenna Strover, the Chair of the Trust’s Heritage at Risk Group, the team of approximately 20 volunteers managed to survey an incredible 484 buildings – by far the most of any group involved in the scheme. Following this success, Jenna (along with Kate Newell of the Council’s Conservation Team) decided to continue the project beyond the pilot scheme. Not only did they continue the survey but they extended it to include all listed buildings in Leeds. In June 2017, 4 years after they had begun their work, the team of volunteers had amassed a list of ‘buildings at risk’ that counted over 3,000 properties. Their incredible work has led to major developments with some of the most ‘at risk’ buildings which have subsequently been bought for redevelopment or cleared for regeneration work. The stories of these buildings, and how the Heritage at Risk List has saved them from collapse, is one that deserves to be told.
Our first story is of the Cardigan Arms pub on Kirkstall Road. The Grade 2 listed building was an iconic Victorian drinking house which had, due to mismanagement and lack of investment, fallen into disrepair. The survey work done by our volunteers identified the Cardigan Arms as a ‘vulnerable’ building and, since the survey, the pub has been purchased and recovered by the very local Kirkstall Brewery. The Cardigan Arms now proudly serves Kirkstall’s own beer, brewed just 5 minutes up the road. The redevelopments done by the new owners have made sure to maintain the pub’s Victorian charm whilst giving the interior a much-needed clean. The large circular bar has been renovated and now features a fine selection of local beers and some from further afield too. The Cardigan Arms is well and truly back on the map in Leeds, and many thanks are due to the Leeds Civic Trust volunteers for their work on the survey.
The second story of revival is of the former Potternewton Park Mansion on Harehills Lane. This historic Leeds building is now a Sikh Temple in the process of a three phase development helped largely by financial aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Grade 2 listed ‘Gurdwara Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji’ was surveyed by our volunteers for the Heritage at Risk List in 2015, noting that it had been successful in its bid to receive funding for repairs from the ‘Grants for Place of Worship’ scheme run by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Originally known as Harehills Grove, the building began life as a mansion house for local wool merchant James Brown and his family. Although ownership of the property changed hands, it was eventually bought for use as an educational facility in the early 20th Century. It remained in this capacity until 2006 when it was purchased by its current owners as a Sikh Temple of worship. The money received from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been put to use on repairing the roof and windows with further work being done to the flooring, installing a heating system and renovating the grounds of the mansion. Again, it is a credit to the work of the survey volunteers that this historic Leeds building is now safe from dilapidation.
The Heritage at Risk List was a great achievement for those involved and for the preservation of historic listed buildings in Leeds in general; without them, many of these buildings may have been lost to history.
Another success story from the Heritage at Risk List is of the redevelopment at First White Cloth Hall, which is available to read here.