Leeds Kirkgate Market

Over time, things, buildings, and locations become part of the fabric. If you have lived somewhere all your life, or for a long time, it is easy to take things for granted.

I recently realised this when walking around Leeds, West Yorkshire. I focus on the shops, where I am going, trying not to get run over, what I’d like to eat etc. But, the other day, I looked up.

Leeds Kirkgate Market is renowned for a great bargain, excellent fish and small Japanese plants. But it turns out it is a stunning piece of architecture too. I have always been so focussed on what is inside, I have never paid proper attention to the very building the market sits in.

Just look at it. So at odds with the plain, boring, more modern buildings that surround it. Created in the 1800s, it is a truly magnificent building. I could stand there and take pictures of it all day, frankly. Now when I walk by, I tilt my heads upwards and take in the splendor. The building stands as a reminder of the rich history Leeds has to offer. It was the place where a little-known business called Marks & Spencer was founded, with a stall in 1884. It survived German bombs in 1941 and a raging fire in 1975.

In a way, it tells a story. A bland apartment building, does not. We should treasure and make the most of old building like this, not demolish and start again. Neither should they be turned into strange and largely pointless exhibits, but something actually useful that will be enjoyed by all.

Which leads me to the old BBC Television Centre, now converted into 5,000 new flats. Yes, it is nowhere near as old as Leeds Kirkgate Market, nor in my humble opinion, does it strike the same visual cord. But the design is no less dramatic or iconic. I’m very happy to see such a cool design still being renovated and put to good use.

So I urge you, to ‘look up’ the next time you visit any large town. Because whilst eating and shopping is great, there are many old treasures hidden in plain site. You never know, one of them may become your next property development.