Leeds City Square

City Square is dominated on the Quebec Street side by the Post Office, built in 1896 by H. Tanner. Above each of the two entrances, are pairs of limestone girls, engaged in writing, reading and finishing letters - the sculptor was apparently W.S. Frith (thanks to Peter Hirschmann for providing this and related information). Also by the square, a Unitarian Gothic church of 1847, by Bowman and Crowther, in simple cross-plan without tower. Modest sculpture on the exterior, with four small saints on the angles of the corner projections around the main entrance, each with a small animal at their side - eagle, calf, griffin - except one, who has a tiny worshipping man. At the top of the walls, under the eaves, a few little square carvings of foliage, a winged sheep, dragon etc. At the corner of Boar Lane, a graceful round classical building with a green dome - the Yorkshire District Bank, designed by W. W. Gwyther and put up in 1899. On the front of this edifice, a coat of arms with owls and a sheep (apparently by J. Thewlis), and at the base of the dome itself, two large figural groups in stone - a statuesque woman bearing a sheaf of corn and a bronze sickle, with sheep and delivery boy with barrow facing onto Boar Lane, and on the other side, a burly craftsman with hammer, anvil on which he rests a pair of tongs, and a great eagle. Serious work, but by whom?

Now to the bronze statues in the Square itself, previously scattered, now somewhat arranged for added dignity. The centrepiece, on a raised plinth and looking most dramatic, is the Black Prince on horseback, by Thomas Brock. Bronze panels on the sides of the base show lightly-sketched battle scenes - one with lots of archers, and the Prince directing from the rear, ahorse in similar posture to the statue above, directing his men to hack down a horsed opponent; the other a sea battle, with the Prince at the prow of his lion-headed ship.

Around this centrepiece, four pairs of lampholders, surely among the most beautiful lampholders created. They are semi-draped girls by Alfred Drury, each holding her art nouveau lamp aloft. They date from 1899, and are symbolic of Morning and Evening. Morning, whose drapery swirls out from a morning breeze, bears a handful of fresh roses; Evening, in the wispiest outfit, stretches langourously one last time, and her eyes are already shut. Utterly characteristic of Drury, and wholly admirable. Another example of a Drury girl may be found nearby in Park Square.

Evening, by Drury

By the side of the Square is a row of four statues of local worthies, and one of these is also by Drury - Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen (always good to see a chemist properly commemorated), with magnifying glass and pestle and mortar, slightly overposed. This work the gift of T. Walker Harding in 1903. Two statues by H. C. Fehr, whose War Memorial we can see by the Art Gallery: the rather Shakespearean-looking John Harrison, gift of Councillor Richard Boston in 1903 (a version was however shown at the Royal Academy in 1900), and James Watt, gift of Wainwright in the same year. Finally, a statue by F. W. Pomeroy, Dr Hook, Bishop of Leeds, shown as a fiery preacher, dated 1902.

And now, standing with the station behind, we are spoilt for choice, with Victorian sculpture to be found in front, to left and to right... Ahead is Park Row, to the right Boar Lane, but on this page we go left. Quebec Street and Infirmary Street go more or less parallel towards the left, and both are of interest. Quebec Street has the former Leeds County Liberal Club, in bright red terracotta, with pointy corner spire and decorations of garlands etc. Infirmary Street has the excellent Yorkshire Bank, a great sandstone Gothic building, the way Gothic should be, with heavy, grim corner tower, four winged lions on the front, fierce eagle and another winged leonine thing on corbels by the main entrance, and small panels with grotesque and heraldic griffins. Good stuff. And proceeding westward takes us quickly to Park Square.

Park Square

A charming square, with gardens, surrounded on three sides by low housing, showcasing the classical tower of the Town Hall to the north. The fourth side of the square is occupied in its entirety by the most impressive of the Leeds warehouses - St Paul's House. A massive, four storey symmetrical block in Italian style, with Moorish corner pinnacles. Lots of Doulton tiles and mouldings. The main entrance to the building is actually on one corner, facing not into the square, but onto St Paul's Street - encrusted with Doulton tiles, some carrying on the Moorish theme of the pinnacles far above, and the whole somewhat recalling the corner entrance of Doulton's own factory, in Black Prince Road, London.

And in the middle of the square, our further example of a Drury girl. Three wild boars cluster agitatedly round a pillar, treading beneath their feet grapevines and apples. The pillar or pedestal itself is decorated with unhappy little heads. Atop stands a slender girl, calm and half-smiling. She is of course Circe, and the swine are the hapless compatriots of Odysseus. Drury had exhibited variants on this statue at the Royal Academy in 1893 and 1894, with a quote from the Odyssey:

'Instant her circling wand the goddess waves, To hogs transforms them, and the sty receives.'

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East from City Square down Boar Lane // Leeds Sculpture pages

Sculpture pages // Victorian art in Britain

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