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Former Office of the West Yorkshire Archives Service, Leeds

Description: Former Office of the West Yorkshire Archives Service

Grade: II
Date Listed: 1 March 2013
Building ID: 1412649

OS Grid Reference: SE3075534793
OS Grid Coordinates: 430755, 434793
Latitude/Longitude: 53.8085, -1.5344

Locality: Leeds
County: Leeds
Postcode: LS7 3AP

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Listing Text


A former branch library of 1939, later an archive office, unused at the time of inspection (2012).

Reason for Listing

The 1939 former Sheepscar Branch Library, Leeds, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the exterior, described at the time as charming and modern, is austere but well proportioned and unaltered, with some good decorative detail on the entrance front;
* Plan: the layout, of a corner reception area with rooms radiating out and including an upper floor with reading room and special collection room has survived intact;
* Interior features: there is a wealth of surviving interior fittings and finishes of high quality, including marble finishes, doors, bookshelves, bookcases and issue desk;
* Historic interest: the Joseph Porton Room, which housed a collection of Jewish literature and has a concentration of high quality fittings, is of historic interest in reflecting the importance of the local faith community.


The former Sheepscar branch library was opened in 1938, designed by Leeds architect Frederick Laurence Charlton (formerly known as Kruckenberg). It was nominated for a RIBA Bronze medal and was described in the local press as “one of the most charming and modern buildings at the time”. The library closed in 1975 and the building was used by the West Yorkshire Archive Service until the autumn of 2012 when it returned to Leeds City Council.


A former library, then record office, of 1938, by architect F. L. Charlton.

MATERIALS: red-brown brick in English bond with a Portland stone plinth under a grey slate roof.

PLAN: the building is located between two parallel roads that run into Roundhay Road forming a wide road junction. It is rectangular in shape with a broad canted corner facing the road junction between the west and south elevations. It has two storeys with a small single storey section to the rear (north) where it adjoins another building.

EXTERIOR: the hipped roof is set back behind a plain parapet, and a Portland stone plinth between one and three courses high runs round the unattached sides of the building (varying with the slope of the ground) and around the main entrance in the canted corner, as well as forming the cills of the ground floor windows. The windows are all original with steel frames and margin lights and are set between raised brick pilasters. There are bands of vertical bricks above the plinth, above the ground floor windows and at the top of the first floor windows. The west elevation onto Chapeltown Road has six windows on each floor, with an additional window in the single storey section to the left; the ground floor windows are taller and the right-hand bay is set back to form part of the canted corner. The east elevation to Roscoe Street has five windows to each floor plus two in the single storey section. An arched iron-gated opening at the right hand end leads to a small rear yard. The south elevation has four windows, the left hand bay set back to form part of the canted corner. The parapet is slightly raised at the canted corner, and there is a single tall stair window above the entrance, with a raised brick architrave. The window has stained glass portraying the Coat of Arms of Leeds City. The entrance has a Portland stone surround with the original panelled wooden double door set within inner stone jambs which have Art deco style detailing at the top.

INTERIOR: an inner lobby with half-glazed flat timber double doors leads to the entrance hall which has original Travertine marble panelling to above door height throughout, in brown with a green marble strip at the base and top. A stairway rises to each side of the entrance door with steel balusters and brass handrails, the two flights joining at a half landing to form a single cantilevered flight to the first floor. Opposite is the original reception office projecting from the back wall, with two timber-framed windows. On either side of this are half glazed double doors with original fittings, each with a timber framed window beyond. A brass plaque below the ticket office windows names the library and gives details of its date and opening ceremony.

Two rooms lead from the entrance hall, each with some surviving open-fronted wooden shelving in Austrian oak and zig-zag cornicing on the coffered ceilings. In the left hand room is the original built-in desk fronting the reception office with drawers and ink wells etc. The majority of these former lending areas is filled with metal racking from its use as an archive. To the rear are offices, a staff room with an original fireplace and a kitchen with some original cupboards. The stairs lead to an upper floor with a former reading room to the right and the Joseph Porton Room to the left. The stair window has stained glass showing the Leeds Coat of Arms. The reading room, also used for archive storage, has lost its original shelving and reading desks. The Joseph Porton Room, created to house a collection of Jewish books, occupies the west side of the upper floor and contains a full suite of fitted glazed bookcases in Indian Silver Greywood with Australian cross-banding, with curved corners between the windows and doors. A later partition towards the rear of the room is entirely in style, indistinguishable from the original. Polished wood plaques on the walls commemorate Joseph Porton, who funded the furnishings of the room, and Rabbi Moses Abrahams, whose library was donated to the city by the United Hebrew Congregation of Leeds and housed in the room.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.