Leeds Victorian Bear Pit

We are pleased to confirm that Leeds Civic Trust is moving forward with a restoration programme for the Bear Pit on Cardigan Road.  This listed structure was left to the Trust in the 1960s, and has been looked after by our volunteers for many years.  We have planning permission to restore the building and landscape the grounds.  We are in the final stages of planning the restorations and we hope that work will commence on site later this year. Although the site will never be open 24/7 we will be working out an access plan to ensure that members of the public will be able to use and appreciate the space.

The Bear Pit was part of the Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens which opened in 1840 as a visitor attraction. The bear was the only animal attraction and was an attempt to boost the number of people attending.  The gardens closed for good in 1858.  The land was sold off for development.  The Bear Pit is one of the few physical traces of the gardens that remain.

Although this is primarily a restoration project (as a listed structure we are obliged to maintain the building), we will also be using this as an opportunity to remind people about the role this location played in the history of Headingley and the city.  Inevitably, people will think about what use the structure was put to (it is called the Bear Pit after all). We are thinking about how we might represent a bear in physical form to act as a reminder of how the building was used, without in any way glorifying animal cruelty.


Illustrated proposals by KS Architects

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