Headrow House

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chameleon
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Postby chameleon » Thu 15 Nov, 2007 7:51 pm

The car park under this building (now home to a large Insurance co.) surprisingly goes down quite a long way, but despite working in that building for a while some years ago, I only learned recently that a door from down in the depths, leads to what was a large Civil Defence command bunker.

Does anyone know anything about this?
Trojan
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Postby Trojan » Sat 29 Dec, 2007 9:09 pm

chameleon wrote:
The car park under this building (now home to a large Insurance co.) surprisingly goes down quite a long way, but despite working in that building for a while some years ago, I only learned recently that a door from down in the depths, leads to what was a large Civil Defence command bunker.

Does anyone know anything about this?

There used to be a large undergrouind car park on the Headrow - it was on the right hand side as you went towards the Town Hall. Boultons the car dealers had an outlet there -I knew someone who worked there - I think they were Fiat dealers.
Industria Omnia Vincit
rikj
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Postby rikj » Sat 29 Dec, 2007 11:38 pm

As usual chameleon, anything is possible with things like this. Any idea whether Civil Defence is referring to WWII or the Cold War vintage? Leeds had a Region 2 War Room out of the centre in the Cold War which rapidly became redundant.

Most Cold War sites are well documented, but forgotten ones still turn up occasionally, I think there was one in Birmingham in the last few years. Do you know who the tenants of Headrow House were in times past?

It may be more possible that the basements and sub-basements were used as air raid shelters in WWII. Or maybe used as ARP stations. Over 40 architects were taken on to survey domestic and business premises in Leeds with the intention of strengthening basements to use as shelters. The intended shelters were listed by name rather than address. So, on the Headrow we have the following:

Cromwell
Hayward
Late Bambers

One of the problems with looking at WWII stuff is the lack of documentation due to security considerations. Most often documents don't even allow reference to the fact that there was a war on! They use coy phrases such as "the current situation". In WWII engineers unfamiliar with an area were often directed by an officer to construct something, with no idea what is was, and with no plans other than sketches. This is frustrating as it means there is often little or no documentary evidence of sites, but it has the plus side that many sites exist, that haven't been documented! And may yet wait to be re-discovered.

Thanks for bringing the info to the forum.



Bramley4woods
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Postby Bramley4woods » Sun 30 Dec, 2007 12:43 am

rikj wrote:
As usual chameleon, anything is possible with things like this. Any idea whether Civil Defence is referring to WWII or the Cold War vintage? Leeds had a Region 2 War Room out of the centre in the Cold War which rapidly became redundant.

Most Cold War sites are well documented, but forgotten ones still turn up occasionally, I think there was one in Birmingham in the last few years. Do you know who the tenants of Headrow House were in times past?

It may be more possible that the basements and sub-basements were used as air raid shelters in WWII. Or maybe used as ARP stations. Over 40 architects were taken on to survey domestic and business premises in Leeds with the intention of strengthening basements to use as shelters. The intended shelters were listed by name rather than address. So, on the Headrow we have the following:

Cromwell
Hayward
Late Bambers

One of the problems with looking at WWII stuff is the lack of documentation due to security considerations. Most often documents don't even allow reference to the fact that there was a war on! They use coy phrases such as "the current situation". In WWII engineers unfamiliar with an area were often directed by an officer to construct something, with no idea what is was, and with no plans other than sketches. This is frustrating as it means there is often little or no documentary evidence of sites, but it has the plus side that many sites exist, that haven't been documented! And may yet wait to be re-discovered.

Thanks for bringing the info to the forum.



It's not WW2.

Headrow House was just a very big, deep hole in the ground in the early 1950s. you could see into it from the top of double deck buses.

It was like this in 1950 / 51 and stayed like it for a good few years. How and why the building got that far and then stopped (Like a hotel on the Costa Brava) is a Mystery. The War? Shortages?

It had a high stockade fence around it with "OUR WARNING TO JOE" (no doubt a reference to Joe Stalin), written in broad brush strokes on the Headrow side. It was finished IIRC before I went to Central High School in 1958.

Vallances record shop were amongst the first tenants on the corner with the Headrow opposite Lewis's. At one stage British Airways had a travel shop in a small shop unit, there was another small shop unit, I remember it being a camera shop, I also remember a stationers / craft shop, and on the corner with Albion Street was the "Ceylon Tea Centre". Can't see any of these being significant.

The Inland Revenue had offices on the upper floors , where I suspect the insurance outfit is now.

The building did have an underground car park accessible from the back, but I never went in.

We wanted to make Leeds a better place for the future - but we're losing it. The tide is going out beneath our feet.

electricaldave
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Postby electricaldave » Sun 30 Dec, 2007 4:28 pm

When they refurbed Headrow House, I remember that there looked a be a huge deep hole somewhere around the back on the Vallances side.

It was a big refit, seemed to go on for ages.

They were lowering some big distribution transformers down there, so I assume that part of the Leeds HT elecectrical system along with all the switchgear lives under that place.
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chameleon
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Postby chameleon » Sun 30 Dec, 2007 6:02 pm

It's a shame all that secrecy was necessary - does rarher get in the way these days doesn't it? Noen the less, an interesting insight rikj.

I'm inclined to agree with our friend Bramley about its purpose, it does seem rather late for the war but I am assured that it did remain active for many years, the staff from Revenue above being able to participate in the procceedings during the (then) regular exercises which took place there.

That does seem to suggest a role in the post war defence come disaster planning activities. I will try to find a little more about just what happened there.

Not sure there is a public substation around there electricaldave, but as you will be aware, many large buildings buy energy at highvoltage these days with there own dedicated substations. Certainly that is the case in my present building where the IT demand alone is quite significant.

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