The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Department stores

House of Fraser – Leeds

Nominated by: C20
Have C20 acted upon before? no
Region: North East
Former names: F W Woolworth
Dates from: 1950s
Built for: F W Woolworth
Listed: No
Conservation Area: No

F W Woolworth had an early pre-WWI presence in Leeds’ main retail area at 131 Briggate and later in the 1920s relocated to a new adjacent store at the 140 -142 Briggate site. This in turn was replaced in the 1950s by a purpose-built store sitting between 140-142 Briggate and Central Road. The mid-sized, symmetrical Briggate frontage departed in style from Woolworth’s interwar years developments which could often be brick neo-Georgian or white faience-clad moderne. Its flat façade with four storeys and a basement is characteristic of post-war, civic modernist re-development.  Above a ground floor of display windows and entrances, there is a three-storey, stone-faced façade with a large central rectangular area of fenestration consisting of rows of small metal windows above opaque panels (a number of larger display windows at the first floor were a later insertion). To either side there are three punched windows. The longer, rear, Central Road façade is formed from three angled elevations and is similar in style to the Briggate frontage with a large area of fenestration and stone-panel facing. Woolworths sold the building in 1987 to Schofields, a local department store, who were bought by House of Fraser in 1988.

The store is currently open and trading but House of Fraser (bought by Sports Direct after entering administration in 2018) reportedly do not intend to renew its lease. Pre-application plans have emerged to demolish the building and redevelop the site as nine storeys of student accommodation above ground and basement floors of retail. Planning officers have been quoted in local media as saying, “subject to a suitably designed replacement, the demolition of the existing building would not be resisted.” A number of councillors have also been quoted as expressing similar informal approval. A forthcoming Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel meeting will take an in-principle view on the pre-application proposals. Last update: January 2022

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