Search site

School of Geography

A quick walking tour of the University

map Map © OpenStreetMap contributors

This is a short walk around the University, with a brief history of some of its architecture. For a more extensive set of walks, see Walks Round Red Brick by Maurice Beresford.

Start at the Parkinson building (info) and the Brotherton library (info), which is behind it (1930s-1950s). These were designed by Lanchester, Lucas and Lodge, who were heavily influenced by working with Edwin Lutyens in India. This represents the second phase of the University's four phases of development; that between the 1930s and 1950s.

From here, walk to the Great Hall (1894; info), by Britain's foremost "Red Brick" architect Alfred Waterhouse. This represents the first phase, as the University grew up along what is now University Road.

At the Great Hall, walk down past the giant sculpture of two black wiggles (Keith Wilson's "Sign for Art") and the complex ahead of you is the 1960s part of the University, the third phase, designed by partnership Chamberlin, Powell and Bon and now listed for preservation because of its architectural importance. This group also designed the (in many ways similar) Barbican in London, and the pair of developments are two of the few really successful Brutalist spaces in the UK. At Leeds, the high-level "Streets in the Sky" really work to cut down travel times across what is otherwise a very hilly campus. Walk down through this complex to the bottom of the campus to get a feel for this, and see their Roger Stevens lecture theatre block, right of which is the University's sustainable garden (help yourself!) and the School of Geography.

Head across the plaza through the gardens, exiting from the far corner. Go directly across the road and up the street opposite, Springfield Mount. This is representative of the better pre-University housing (much of the so-called "slum" housing in the area was cleared in the 1960s to make way for the Chamberlin, Powell and Bon developments). Half way up Springfield Mount is The Priory of St Wilfrid, designed by Temple Moore for the Community of the Resurrection and then owned by the University, now private student accomodation.

At the top of Stringfield Mount, take the small path through the buildings on the right, and turn left up to the main Clarendon Road. Turn right, and diagonally across the road you'll see a gap in a wall: the entrance into an area of modern buildings. This is the Clarendon Road campus. Walk through the gap and into the area beyond. This is the fourth and most recent phase of building, which includes some nice modern architecture, including the Marks and Spencer's Archive by Broadway Malyan (info). The old building in this area is the old boys' grammar school and chapel.

Having explored this area, go back through the gap to Clarendon Road, and keep walking up the slight hill (along the edge of the new campus) until the traffic lights. As you do so, the houses on the far side of the road are what is left of the pre-University "slums", which were rescued from demolition in the late 1960s and 1970s when people realised the housing could be improved in place.

At the lights, turn right back into the main campus along University Road. Walk straight down the road. On the left you pass the impressive Old Geography Building (now Fine Arts), designed by Waterhouse's grandson, then a white building, actually an old workshed pre-dating all the other buildings on campus. Walking between these two buildings, you can visit the old Leeds General Cemetery, now St George's Fields, contentiously landscaped into a hidden park by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon.

Continuing down University Road, under the arch, on the left is the Clothworker's Buildings, designed in part by Waterhouse's son, meaning that University Road has three generations of Waterhouse buildings. Past the secluded Clothworkers Court on the left, opposite which is one of the old manor houses that the University grew up around, and you're back at the Great Hall.

If you have more time, Leeds has some fantastic architecture, as it wasn't extensively bombed during the war and has had a series of adventurous council architects; here's a couple of walking tours: Modern; Old; though the bizarre Temple and Tower Works are worth the walk.