Leeds Wagon Lifting Tower - remnants of Leeds railway heritage
My pal Glen has a restaurant just off Wellington Street called The Good Luck Club. The area is in a newly developed, vibrant part of Leeds called Wellington Place combining new glass fronted office space with independent restaurants.
Just outside the restaurant is a large tower which is now listed, has escaped being demolished and now sits proudly in between various wedge shaped office buildings. Last time I was down there I took some pictures including one of the Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque and decided to find a little bit more.
Apparently, the developer MEPC committed to £15,000 to restore, repair and preserve the tower as part of the deal to develop the site due to its significance in Leeds heritage and growth helped by the coming of the railway to the city on the 1800’s.
It turns out the gritstone/sandstone tower actually dates back to the 1850’s and was part of the Leeds Goods Station, (although many people think it was at the original Leeds Central Station).
At the time there were actually two Coal Wagon Lifting Towers which stood either side of the old river and canal viaduct apparently, plus a third also on the site (see black and white picture). The towers helped to hoist wagons up and down from a passenger line which was on a higher level, down to a lower level at the Great Northern Goods Yard at the railway site.
The process involved chains and steam power and could lift a wagon of up to 20 tons. It was in action until 1967 when the whole area which was part of the Great Northern Railway complex closed. Sadly the other towers did not survive but the one tower that survived has since been made Grade II listed and received the Blue Plaque in 2011. The rest of the old Central Station was demolished in the 1970’s.
Its good to see bits of Leeds heritage saved and incorporated sympathetically into a modern development, which is equally important for the next chapter of the cities growth.