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Former Mechanics Institute, Keighley

Another loss to the town centre fabric of Keighley:

Currently used as part of Leeds College, the building is to be levelled to form a car park.


keighley mech institute.jpg

Mechanics institutes are a mysterious thing of the past. You see the words embossed in stone on a building now occupied by Weatherspoons, somewhere in most industrial northern towns.

Nothing embodies the civic aspiration of the Victorians more than these institutions, and for that reason alone they are culturally indispensable. Rome had the agora, the Victorians had mechanics institutes.

We simply can not knock these temples down. Even the heritage statement (which was commissioned to support the demolition of this building) agrees.

Keighley loses beautiful buildings often. Warehouse shaped piles of rubble are found throughout. It is a town that struggles with identity, but until now has somehow retained a town centre that is a lot grander than its contemporary economic situation would attest.

The fact that at some point we were willing to develop diminutive small towns to the aesthetic standards of classical cities says a lot about our erstwhile civic pride.

We can’t let the last vestiges of local history in towns like Keighley be torn down for car parking space. Half of the original building was lost to fire some time ago. It was lucky the other half survived until now. Bradford council, please intercede.




Oakbank School, Keighley

Another old school building to be demolished in Ingrow, Keighley:

The school itself was constructed in 1963,  however in the core of this asbestos/plywood complex is an impressive Manor House known as Haggas Hall.

Haggas Hall

This image taken in 1963 (thanks to David Kirkley of Keighley Schools Heritage) shows the building in all its manorial glory. Sadly not spectacular enough for Bradford Council to consider intervention, this is yet another historic building to be lost during the current wave of school rebuilding.

Of course it is fantastic that funding is going into building new education facilities for our young people, but there does seem to be a culture of scorched earth redevelopment, rather than the existing sites being analysed as the composites of buildings they are.

Its somewhat lazy, and the new school will lose some capital derived from having a historic ‘core’ building as a centre piece. By all means get rid of the prefabricated periphery, but retain the sturdy stone nucleus.

Mount Pleasant School

Here is a link to the Huddersfield examiner article covering the ongoing campaign to save the amazing clock tower at Mount Pleasant School In Lockwood:

mount pleasant

I feel a pattern emerging. A former council property is snapped up in an auction by a developer for next to nothing, and plans to demolish said building are expedited by the council. How can we demolish this architectural treasure?

Thankfully the Examiner are very vocal about local heritage, and hopefully the campaign to stop this iconoclastic behaviour will be successful. Please if you can attend the meeting  in support of this campaign. See linked article for dates and location.

Whitcliffe Mount School, Cleckheaton demolition

Another application to flatten a Victorian school in Kirklees;

The school covers a large site, and is for once not being sold off in the bonfire of the assets, but is being rebuilt.

Much of the current building is from the 1960s onwards, but the southern wing of the building is from a much earlier date and is once again an important testament to our social history. Opened in 1910, a brief history of the school can be found here:


Echoing the demolition of Penistone Grammar School, opposing an application by the local authority is a none starter, Yet it would be great to see a local campaign to try and halt this unnecessary loss. Incidentally, from the indicative plans it looks like the footprint of this building would serve only as a car park. I am not against building and upgrading education facilities, but retaining some of the schools history can only make the establishment more prestigious, surely?

Bonfire of the public assets

Another school building owned by local government, being expedited through the planning system and sold to a housebuilder with full permission to demolish.

Battye School

Of all the school buildings West Yorkshire is set to lose this is possibly my favourite from a design perspective.

Only Victorian Britains would deem it necessary to erect an ornate bell tower on a school building, presumably to instil pupils with a sense of pride – modern buildings tend to be predicated on function alone.

Robust and esoteric, this building would make a great conversion into flats. This road is going to appear odd without this school. We are fools to knock down these monuments to our golden age.

Remind me to laugh at Kirklees when in years to come they complain about not being able to afford to build schools for a ballooning population in years to come.

Bradford, again!

Another palatial building looks likely to be torn down in Bradford.

bradford fitness first 2

No heritage statement with this application strangely enough – although a heritage statement ALWAYS vociferously favours demolition so no loss there. I’m not too sure what the history of this building is but it looks like a probably vVictorianschool that is now occupied by fitness first. The frontage is so very impressive, and with this loss, another fragment of authentic pre consumer capitalist culture is lost.

bradford fitness first

Its difficult to integrate a building like this into a development, but a talented urban designer could create a fantastic esoteric residential area here. Architects, this is a call to arms.

St Mary’s School and Nunnery

Application submitted from The Diocese of Leeds to demolish a 19th century school and nunnery:

batley school

This building is in a conservation area and forms part of the industrial fabric of this corner of Batley. Even the heritage consultant, who noramally dispell any idea of historic merit acknowledge that this would be a huge loss.

No plans to build on the site, so I can only assume that scorched earth is more marketble. So many public buildings are being sold off for housing land, and ironically when a dearth of school places exists; a situation which will only worsen. Still they get rid of these functional buildings. Kirklees, you will rue the day.

Fulford Hall to be demolished

Fulford Hall is set to be demolished. This building once housed Penistone Grammer School, which has now moved to a modern complex down the road. This follows the demolition of Broomhead Hall in Penistone in 1976:Broomhead Hall

Palatial in appearance, it is quite strange that a developer can not see any reuse of this building, other than a carte blanche brownfield site. So often we rue how throughout the 20th century, stately homes were demolished with an ideological zeal, yet here we are, readily allowing an architectural marvel to be lost for the sake of a few detached houses and their accompanying commuters.

Justification through extolling that ‘no use can be found for the building’ does not wash with me. Barnsley council, you have now set a president and nothing is safe from the wandering eyes of the speculator.

Shame on you.

And by the way, Penistone Grammer school has I’m sure lost a lot of prestige by moving from Fulford Hall to a (purposefully?) rusting aluminium warehouse.

For  list of stately homes demolished in the 20th century, see

We’re too late to save this masterpiece now, yet this is only the first of many, and its time to up the ante. This could have been 30 or more innovative residences, but we are going to get a handful of generic suburban boxes.Image