Feature - March 2007, Leeds Town Hall

The secret side of one of the most iconic buildings in Leeds.
munki
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Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:24 pm

Into the Clocktower & up the spiral stair.
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.
munki
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Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:27 pm

There are over three hundred steps up from the basement to the crow's nest at the top of the tower. But you don't have to do it all in one go. On the way up, there are rooms, some of which have been wiped off the map of the building in the course of a century and a half. 'This used to be a grand corridor over the vestibule,' says Eric, 'but when they built the gallery over the hall in the 1890s... well you can see you can't walk along it now without banging your head.'
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.
munki
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:29 pm

But this hidden corridor hides a secret of old Leeds. 'Where the cast iron pillars of the hall cut through here, you can see the last of the original colour scheme that the Victoria Hall, or Great Hall as it was then known, was done out, much darker than it is now'.
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.
munki
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:36 pm

Another hidden portrait.Nearly at the top... The bell, weighing four tonnes, four hundred-weight, and one pound. Eric points out to us what made up that extra pound. 'One of the least known & least seen portraits of one of the most famous women in history'. Queen Victoria's face adorns the side of the bell which was supposed to have been silenced to save her sleep in September 1858. Rusted away now, but with her name clearly visible below the face.
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.

munki
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:41 pm

As far up as you can go, the room within the dome, and the clock, designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, Lord Grimthorpe (who also designed the Great Clock at Palace of Westminster, which strinkes Big Ben), built by Dent's of London. The date on the movement says 1859, giving the lie to the notion that the bell had to be silenced to save Victoria's sleep... since there was no bell, no clock, no clocktower on the building when Victoria opened it in 1858.
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.
munki
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:43 pm

The darkened view up into the dome of the Clocktower. The stairs go on up & up twisting around the inside of the dome, but they are wooden instead of stone, and sometimes don't even have a wall to either side. Only for the brave...
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.
munki
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:45 pm

Outside, the face of the clock we are all so used to seeing, much closer than we are all so used to seeing it!
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.
munki
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:46 pm

And the view to the east, over the Central Library, Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute.
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.

munki
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:51 pm

OK. So much for the top, above the city... But we know that's not where the Dear Readers of Secret Leeds really want to be, so we end by going down, down, down... All the way down the spiral staircase, which makes your legs ache much more than going up. Half way down, the staircase changes from clockwise to anti-clockwise. Does anyone know why?Down to the last of the three courtrooms that used to be placed in three corners of the building (the fourth, South-East corner, used to be the Council Chamber, when the Town Hall was still the administrative centre of the city). Courtroom Number 4, the Borough Court, where Eric, who was a policeman in a previous life, remembers standing hand-cuffed to prisoners in the dock.
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.
munki
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu 25 Jan, 2007 5:16 am

Postby munki » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 1:53 pm

And the long drop. The steps from the dock to the cells below. The origin of the phrase 'Send him down'. May God have mercy on your soul...
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'Are we surprised that men perish, when monuments themselves decay? For death comes even to stones and the names they bear.' - Ausonius.





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