Leeds: City Of Arcades (well, that's what we call it)

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds: County Arcade1-Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds: County Arcade 22009 images
This is a fine frontage featuring swags, curlicues, arches and pillars in stone and the building date: '1900' with the name below: 'COUNTY ARCADE'. It is near the entrance to the 'Victorian Quarter' in Leeds and the arcade itself features the finest in internal decoration: mosaics, mouldings, colour and architectural finery (photograph taken in autumn 2009).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 1-Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 2
Leeds benefits over the other large industrial conurbations of the north in that it already existed as a large town/city before the industrial revolution. It boasts some fine architecture and concommitent lettering to delight the eye. Many examples (these taken in autumn 2007) are in the city's shopping centre which is famous for its large covered markets and more distinguished shopping arcades. 'CROSS ARCADE' and the date '1900' are picked out in the magnificent wrought iron screen: a reredos to the Temple Of Mamon. The encaustic enamelled panels of 'THE GRAND ARCADE' (nice use of the definite article, it would have been so easy to put 'Grand Arcade') with its polychrome surrounds, arch and spandrels are repeated futher along the frontage; now largely ignored by passers-by in the street below. The flowery font is similar in both examples.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 3a
A vestige: 'LYON S WORKS' (no sign of an apostrophe, but space left for one!) is readable in this cartouche high above the street. The lettering seems to have been hacked away to leave pale shapes. The large Victorian factory (Lyons food hall/bakers, perhaps, famous for their London Corner Houses?) is now used as an arts centre among other things.

Time Ball Buidings, 24-26 Lower Briggate
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 5-Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 6
In one of the busiest streets in a busy town, Briggate, it's difficult to take the time and notice gems like this one:
 is in white sans-serif capitals set in relief on dark green panels, just below the balustrade at roof level. The building is Listed Grade II:
'Houses and shops, now restaurant. Early C19 with elaborate decoration added c1872 (Nos 25 & 26) and c1900 (No.24 and ground floor), restored 1993. Alterations for the firm of J Dyson, watchmaker. Stucco facade, probably slate roof. 3 storeys, 4 windows. Quoins. Nos 25 and 26: 4-pane sashes, in canted bays to first floor; architraves, moulded cornice on console brackets; moulded panels below eaves with raised lettering: 'TIME BALL BUILDINGS'; modillion cornice between large console brackets and surmounted by scrolled finials. Bay windows flank a large pedimented clock case, the face carrying the lettering, 'JOHN DYSON 25 & 26'; elaborate wrought-iron cresting rises above eaves line and includes spiral and palmette motifs as decoration to the overthrow which terminates in a weather vane and frames the shaft and time ball. No.24: added elaborate wooden bay window rises through upper storeys and retains fine curved glass panes at first floor, moulded cornice and small pediment surmounted by small dome topped by a sphere; cantilevered from front of bay is a large clock in frame with ironwork spandrels, letters D & S, TEMPUS FUGIT, and the date, 1865, all surmounted by a figure of Father Time. Ground floor: continuous pilastered shop front, entrances centre and far left. INTERIOR: contains important fittings including ornate panelling, etched missors, counters and shelving plus a mechanism (now relocated) which formerly raised and lowered the window displays, allowing safe storage in the cellar/vaults each night. HISTORICAL NOTE: used by a distiller, saddler and trunk maker, a haircutter and perfumier and a stationer through the C19 until c1869-71 when Boar Lane was being rebuilt and the premises were uninhabited. In 1872 J Dyson, watchmaker, was at No.26; by 1890 the firm occupied the whole of the building. The gilded time ball mechanism was linked to Greenwich and dropped at exactly 1pm each day; this feature, together with the window mechanism, makes Dyson's a rare survival of elaborate Victorian/Edwardian shop innovation and design. (Lingard S, University of Leeds: Index of buildings in Briggate (unpublished thesis)). '

Even to cross the road and get in the way of pedestrians on their urgent voluntary errands (poetry) is a challenge. The first lettering one notices under the large clock which projects the shop frontage at right angles is 'TEMPUS FUGIT' ('Time waits for no man')  in large and small caps - even more noticeable is the winged Father Time with his scythe above the clock. From either side Father Time is flanked by the cut-out letters 'D S' (Dyson & Son?). The date on the front edge of the clock is '1865'. Way above is the weather vane with its 'N,S,E,W,' in cut metal characters.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 6a
   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 21  
curves round another huge clock face on the shop front with the 'time ball' supended above it; the characters, along with the numbers mentioned below, represent the numerals 1-12 on the clock face
"25" "&" "26" [the address numbers]
'FOUNDED 1865' [picked out in white on the pediment]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 22b   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 22a  
Even the upper windows have gold lettering: three with 'DYSONS' in sans serif caps. The decorative casement below the turret has serif caps reading:
It appears that the business continues on the upper floors, with the ground floor being a restaurant/bar. [In researching this fine building we came across the Stopped Clocks Foundation (see Links), a UK charity which exists to catalogue public clocks that are stopped in the United Kingdom. Featuring more photographs of this site: two Stopped Clocks "Tempus Fugit" and "John Dyson".]

[UPDATE 4.1.2019: 'Congratulations on your fabulous website. I'm particularly pleased to see all the photographs of your public clocks, as these are relevant to my research.
I am writing a book about time balls and time guns - these were used by mariners to set their chronometers so they could subsequently calculate their longitudes whilst at sea. There is a famous one on the Royal Greenwich Observatory but many ports had these devices in the 19th and early 20th centuries prior to the introduction of the BBC time pips in 1926. Ipswich never had a time ball, but Richard Hall Gower proposed that they should, and he lived at Nova Scotia House right by the docks. Unfortunately he died before anything was decided. I love your excellent photographs of the Leeds Time Ball. You're correct saying that they were built by Dyson and Son. I have some material I can send you (if I can find it) - the balls no longer work but I intend visiting them at some stage. Thank you, Paul Fuller.' Thanks to Paul for the information added here and elsewhere on the site.]

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds time ballTime Ball Building in the local press (thanks to the British Newspaper Archive)
1.  Yorkshire Post, Tues. 4 May, 1875
‘LEEDS TIME BALL. GREENWICH MEAN TIME can be obtained only at Messrs W. POTTS & SONS, Guildford Street, they having direct communication with the London Observatory. THE BALL FALLS AT ONE O’CLOCK DAILY.’ Although there are no records to prove it, it is likely that Potts manufactured this first Leeds time ball. A similar one was later installed on the front of what was then Dyson’s jewellers on Lower Briggate; although it no longer operates, this survives today. See the advertisement for Potts' time ball at right.
2.  Leeds Mercury, Sat. Sept. 29, 1877
‘ELECTRIC TIME BALL IN LEEDS – We observe that Mr. J. Dyson, watchmaker and jeweller, Briggate, has just fixed an electric time ball outside his premises. This is the only one of its kind externally fixed, and it cannot fail to be of great practical utility to the public. The ball falls at one o’clock p.m., being released at that precise moment by a special current of electricity direct from Greenwich.’
3.  Leeds Times, Oct. 6, 1877
[Same report as the Leeds Mercury, presumably from a press release by the company.]
4.  Yorkshire Post, Tues. Nov. 6, 1877
John Dyson, then at 25 and 26 Briggate, took out a display advertisement on the front page advertising in his “novel and peculiarly constructed Window Safes” displays of watches, jewellery, electro-plate clocks, musical boxes (also advertised: their closure on Wednesday at 1pm – when their electric time ball fell – for half-holiday). There follows the same text about the time ball operation found in other papers.

50-51 Briggate

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 7a   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 8a

[on the two raised sections with lions heads on either side],
[this relief lettering on the pediment to the right has been removed, but is still readable]'
The grand art deco frontage is lost above the modern 0
2 and Northern Rock shop fronts.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 9
Inside one of the wonderful glazed roofed arcades is an original cartouche bearing the name:
(shop?, theatre?). Exploring the several large and small arcades is very worthwhile: look up and see the fine painted, moulded and well preserved surfaces and roofing supports.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 10
One of the smaller arcades (on Briggate) has its name:
in large and small serif'd caps in a panel high up on the Victorian italianate tower above the entrance, demonstrating the architecture of George Smith of Leeds. Named after it's builder, Charles Thornton, the arcade was opened on 12th May 1877 and a William Potts clock was added in 1878.  Thornton & Co. Ltd, as featured in the India Rubber Manufacturers signs above, certainly dominates this area around the junction of Briggate and Headrow in Leeds. Here's some 'lost' lettering nearby: we can make out the vertical word 'WINDOWS' (or rather 'INDOWS') near the facade edge of this side wall, plus a trapezoidal shape with rounded corners. The rest is a mystery.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds15
And below is another Thornton's named building (in large and small caps) on the corner of Briggate and Headrow:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds14

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 11
Directly opposite the arcade (you can see Thornton's reflected in the windows to the left) is the remant lettering for the:
(the latter between scrolling flourishes. The whole is in a moulded rectangular frame with palladian top, all of which is above the alleyway to the back of the former hotel; all this frontage is now occupied by shops. The red button between 'Hotel' and 'Molineaux' (the name of the licensee David T Molineaux in 1905, rather than the brewery which owned the hotel) seems to interfere with the design like a metal stud used to pull together brickwork. However, its decorative radial grooves, red paint and central hole suggest that, perhaps, a pole was inserted here with a banner or sign projecting over the Briggate pavement to advertise the hotel. Perhaps this was added later? The hotel, which was accessed down the passageway, is said to have closed around 1907.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 12   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds13
Back into Headrow and a few yards away is the ceramic frontage of the
'THREE LEGS' public house (so good, they named it twice). See The Scarborough Hotel at the bottom of this page for another ceramic-fronted public house. Almost next door and lost among the wheelie bins and clutter is a disused exit/entrance at the rear of the City Varieties Music Hall which once must have read:
although the fist 'CIR...' has been plastered over. The City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds is recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as being the longest continuous running music hall in Great Britain today. This wonderfully intimate music hall is listed as grade II* historic building of extreme rarity. The City Varieties can trace its origins as a music hall back to 1865 when it was known as Thornton’s New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge (there's that name again!). It is known to millions throughout the world as the home of BBC Television’s Good Old Days, broadcast from 1953 until 1983, but still performed several weekends each year.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds16
In the back streets running parallel to the railway (which, running as it does on top of a series of archways, is reputed to be the longest stretch of  raised track in the country) is another piece of 'lost' lettering: a black rectangle on a high rendered wall bearing the condensed word in caps with a large 'C':
One can only surmise as to the rest: 'Secretarial', 'Foreign Language'? However, there doesn't seem to be any trace of white paint above that word. The repairs to the rendering obliterate much of this sign.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 17
Between the City Markets and the marvellous oval Corn Exchange is this curious lettering above a clothes shop:
in oriental-style capitals on a white panel between two little cartoon clouds. The same is repeated round the corner, but is in poorer condition.

Opposite the railway station is a large public house bearing lettering in two ceramic finishes (see also The Three Legs pub above):
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 18
(in dark green-on-golden brown glazed tiles over the ground floor entrances and windows)
(in reddish characters against a white-ish tiled background - just below roof level)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 19   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds 20
Ind (pronounced like 'Hind', but without the initial 'H' and sometimes mis-spelled 'Inde') Coope were a large brewing company based in Burton on Trent with distilleries all over the country. The ales were transported via the canal network to public houses all over the country. Ind Coope initially owned the Star Brewery that was founded by George Cardon in 1709 at Romford, Essex. The brewery was acquired by Edward Ind and J.Grosvenor C.E.Coope in 1799. They opened a brewery in Burton-on-Trent in 1856. Indeed, that was the first instance of a London brewer opening an establishment in Burton to take advantage of the Staffordshire town's famed water. Part of their 19th century brewery still stands, including the water tower. In 1934 Ind Coope merged with their next door neighbours at Burton and traded as Ind Coope and Allsopp Ltd. Merging with Ansell's Brewery and Tetley Walker in 1961 to form Allied Breweries. Ind Coope is part of the Carlsberg Tetley Group.

Having explained the strange brewery name, why the odd spelling of the hotel's name? An information board in the pub is informative. This historic pub stands on the site where, in former days, there was a moated Mediaeval manor house. From its roots as a Mediaeval manor house, the building that houses the Scarbrough Hotel has had many occupants, including Christopher Wilson, the Bishop of Bristol. Henry Scarbrough took the property in 1826, which became the Kings Arms - an extensive hotel patronised by many distinguished guests and visitors to the town.  The hotel prospered until about 1863 when the railway viaduct and Queens Hotel were built nearby. This was the end for the hotel, but the beginning of a great connection with the Music Hall  - the Kings Arms gained fame when taken over in the late 1890s by Fred Wood, who also owned the Leeds City Varieties.  Fred Wood established the Scarbrough Hotel Public House, named after Henry Scarbrough, in place of the Kings Arms. At that time, the Scarbrough boasted a large concert hall and Fred Wood organised and held talent nights there.  Any act showing promise was put on at the City Varieties. 

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds: Electric Press   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds: Electric Press
The company is proudly lettered on all sides of its high square section chimney. The Electric Press building was constructed in the late 1860s, principally as a warehouse, but was altered in the late 1890s to house the Chorley and Pickersgill printing works. It retains features from both periods of use and appears to have received little further alteration. The Stansfeld Chambers immediately to the west of the Electric Press was built in 1848 and housed the West Riding Carriage Manufactory. It was converted to offices in the 1920s but still retains features of its original construction. These buildings were occupied by a variety of tenants over the years up  until 1999 when all remaining tenants were relocated to enable Leeds City Council to market the buildings as a development opportunity. Restaurant, educational, office and theatre spaces now occupy this complex which stands at the recently built Millennium Square.
Across the Square, we found this rather attractive mosaic of classical figures on a refurbished building:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Leeds College of Art

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