Friday, 5 April 2019

The Building Stones of Leeds - Part 3

A mosaic in the County Arcade on Briggate

When planning the Building Stones of Leeds field trip for the Sheffield U3A Geology Group, which had been decided during our first meeting of 2019, I already had a good idea of some of the places that I would include when I visited Leeds a couple of times during 2018 – in particular Leeds Minster and the civic buildings on The Headrow.

An exploration of the building stones of Leeds

My subsequent visit to Leeds, to explore its Financial Quarter, was partly curtailed following an impromptu meeting and lengthy conversation with one of the staff at Leeds City Museum, which I visited to check out their geology and archaeology displays – as a backup plan in the event of adverse weather on the day of our February field trip.

A water taxi on the River Aire

3 days later, I set off to Leeds again on the train for what turned out to be a very full and productive day out. Arriving at Leeds station, I took the free water taxi from Granary Wharf to Leeds Dock, which once contained the wharf where stone for Leeds Minster would have been unloaded, after it had been floated down the River Aire from the quarry at Bramley Fall.

Road setts in The Calls

Alighting at Leeds Dock, I then crossed the river to an area known as The Calls, where the exposed road setts appear to be basalt or dolerite, rather than the various granites that I had previously seen everywhere else in England to date.

A ledger in Leeds Minster

Briefly stopping at Leeds Minster, to inform them of our intended visit and to take a closer look at some of the grave slabs in its interior, I was informed that Holy Trinity church would be open on the day of our planned visit and that it could be a good starting point – especially since the Leeds Park and Ride terminus is situated on the opposite side of the road.

Granites in the Victoria shopping centre

Now at the edge of the central shopping area, I was interested to see the new Victoria shopping centre, with its brick and faience exterior and the grey and black granites in its interior, laid out in an attractive chevron pattern.

Leeds Kirkgate Market

Stopping briefly in Leeds Kirkgate Market to sample some excellent Thai food at the Kao Gaeng Thai, I then quickly walked to Boar Lane, to briefly look at Holy Trinity church, passing the Corn Exchange and further examples of road setts that made use of another unusual stone - this time an igneous porphyry.

A porphyry used for road setts

By now, I had seen enough interesting architecture and examples of various building stones to occupy the group for most of the morning, I then made my way to Briggate to have a good look at the magnificent arcades, which provide fine examples of locally made Burmantofts faience – for the exterior and interior.

A view along County Arcade

County Arcade, in particular, is also notable for its lavish use of a brecciated marble for the columns to the shop fronts, together with the very distinctive Rosso Verona from Italy, which is actually a polished Jurassic limestone and not a true marble.

A detail of a column in County Arcade

Having determined that the arcades that form the Victoria Quarter should be the last stop before lunch, I then set off to find a suitable place for lunch/meeting point, which would satisfy the needs of those bringing packed lunches and others who want to find nearby cafes etc.

The exterior of County Arcade

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