Friday 28 September 2012

Arcades - but pennies will not suffice

The Victoria Quarter in Leeds is an upmarket shopping area between Briggate and Vicar Lane, comprised mainly of classic covered arcades.

It was originally built around 1900, designed by architect Frank Matcham (1854-1920) who also designed the Hackney Empire. Prior to this time, the area was a mess of narrow alleyways filled with butchers shops and slaughter houses.

The arched glass roofs make the space airy, while the ornate marble, mosaic, wrought iron and faience features give a sense of old fashioned elegance

The Quarter is definitely popular with one hundred percent take up of retail space and some high end London stores choosing this location as their first branch out of the capital.

Between 1990 and 1996, the Quarter was restored, including the construction of a stained glass roof over Queen Victoria Street, which had previously been open to the sky.

Designed by architect Brian Clarke, at 8,041sq feet, it is the largest stained glass window in Britain and really does create a talking point. Clarke describes his medium as light, especially the way in which it brings kinetic life into a building.

What do you think - tasteful addition, adding to the overall beauty or slightly incongruous, modern colour-chart hanging over Edwardian facades?


  1. I have to be honest and say I like the old and don't like the new in this case. To my eye it takes away from and doesn't add to the timeless beauty of this arcade...

  2. I agree with @ellen b it kind of fights with the beauty of the building.
    But.... there is always a but if Leeds has more gray day that blue sky days may be the colored glass brings some brightness to the shopping area ?
    I would like to see more muted colors or just lights strung up in the space.

    cheers, parsnip

  3. This Gallery makes me think of the Galerie de la Reine (Queen's Gallery) in Brussels, it looks very much alike here are some pictures

  4. It is all rather splendid, and you're right, pennies won't get you anywhere in those shops. So we were just window shoppers or arcade tourists when we visited.

  5. This is equally splendid. No wonder my niece was puzzled when I praised the beutiful building in Derby (when it was really in Leeds) - I need to change my specs.
    My niece lives in Breason.

  6. Sorry about the spelling mistake - that should read Breaston.

  7. It all looks rather beautiful, light and airy. I expect it looks wonderful with the sun shining throught the colours. Just the place to wander around in this awful wet weather we've had lately:)

  8. That first photo is magnificent! What a gorgeous setting.

    I'm glad you asked about the stained glass roof. Incongruous is too mild a word for my visceral reaction. Primary colors are not among my favorites. When I came to the first of the stained glass roof photos, I was quite literally taken aback.

    The soft colors of all of the architecture is not enhanced by the 'appearance' of that roof. The light may reflect, refract, and play off of the shop windows and pillars beautifully but I can't tell from across the pond.

    I'd probably never use the Victoria Street entrance. If I had to, I'd be sure not to look up.

  9. this is really gorgeous!

    I can't imagine butchers set up in that lovely place.

    Although, perhaps it made their work more pleasant!