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Guidebook celebrates Leeds’ vibrant campus

The rich architectural heritage of the University of Leeds is explored in a new edition of a classic walking guide to its campus.

“Walks Round Red Brick” by the late Professor Maurice Beresford has established itself as the definitive source on the University’s buildings and open spaces since it was published in 1980.

The new edition overseen by Dr Chris Hammond, Life Fellow in Material Science at Leeds, brings Beresford’s classic up to date, adding revised histories and notes on the latest additions to the University’s architecture. Photographs by Ruth Baumberg document the campus’ contemporary sights.

“Professor Beresford wanted to remind members of the University that they were surrounded in their daily work by a ‘free open-air museum of architectural and social history’ and I think that holds as true today as it ever did,” Dr Hammond said ahead  the book launch on March 12. 

“Unlike many big city universities, the Leeds campus has a consistent plan—it is designed so the pedestrian can move around in it—but it also has great diversity, from the 19th century gothic redbrick of the Great Hall, to the Portland Stone era of the 1920s to 1950s exemplified by the Parkinson Building  to the great statements of the 1960s—the E.C. Stoner building and Chancellor’s Court,” Dr Hammond said.

“There have been many such grand schemes. In the Portland stone era there were ambitious plans for transforming the campus and in the 1960s the architects were going to more or less demolish everything—all the houses, all the terraces. The fortunate thing about Leeds is that all these great schemes only went part of their way. Nothing over dominates. We have got this wonderful mixture that has a unity to it but is not uniform.”

Dr Hammond added: “You go from the domestic scale of the terraces and the Leeds University Union to Chancellor’s Court and the Roger Stevens Building, which is a great set piece, to the Parkinson Building.  You go from the intimate to the grand to the iconic in a few minutes walk.”

Dr Hammond said recent additions to the campus had added to Leeds’ architectural wealth.

“The approach now isn’t ‘knock down’, but ‘let’s conserve’. Old buildings are incorporated into the fabric of the new.  I think that has been done really successfully with, for example, the Charles Thackrah Building on the Western Campus. These are not shy developments—some of them are quite radical—but they are bringing more variety to the campus. ”

The guide not only offers detailed histories of the campus’ buildings and anecdotes about the personalities involved in building the university, but guides the reader on a series of walking routes around the campus. Dr Hammond has kept Professor Beresford’s original text largely intact, adding notes at the end of each section to update the information.

In the book’s foreword, Melvyn Bragg, Chancellor of the University of Leeds, writes: “Not only have [Christopher Hammond and Ruth Baumberg] produced a detailed handbook to the richly diverse architecture of the University and its environs that is both diverting and informative; in following Beresford’s footsteps, the walks they have mapped out also vividly tell the story of the social history of one of our great Victorian cities and the rise of one of our country’s greatest successes—our world class universities.”

The publication of the new edition was supported by The Thoresby Society and The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. Copies can be obtained from Jeremy Mills Publishing for £12.99 at www.jeremymillspublishing.co.uk/bookshop or sales@jeremymillspublishing.co.uk.

View a gallery of campus images on Facebook

Further information

Contact: Tania Burnham, Communications Office, University of Leeds; phone +44 113 343 3996; t.r.burnham@adm.leeds.ac.uk