Work has begun to repair, restore, and activate the Grade II listed former wagon lifting tower at Wellington Place
The package of works to the lifting tower, which includes repairing and repointing the existing building fabric; making the structure water tight; restoration of the staircase to the upper floor; new landscaping; new windows and doors, and the introduction of internal and external lighting.
The lifting tower will also be given a new green roof to aid biodiversity, and the structure will be opened up, making it possible to enter the ground floor space.
As part of the project, MEPC will be converting the new ground floor space into a mini museum and exhibition space, which will showcase the rich industrial heritage of Wellington Place and Leeds. The museum, which will be accessible to the public during the day, will focus on several themes throughout the year, including highlighting the core role that the tower played for Leeds’ original railway station, and an exhibition capturing people’s memories of the working station. It will also display special artefacts from the station’s history, including exclusive photography.
The lifting tower is a focal point at Wellington Place’s Tower Square, which opened in 2016, and is the central hub of activity for the leading urban quarter, regularly hosting outdoor markets and music performances.
During the restoration phase the hoarding will display interesting facts about the history of Leeds railways and the tower. Works are expected to be completed this coming winter.
Paul Pavia, head of development at MEPC, the developer and asset manager behind Wellington Place, said: “The former railway lifting tower is a symbol of the rich heritage of Wellington Place and a symbol of city’s industrial roots, it plays a central role in the development and provides an interesting juxtaposition between old and new architecture.
“These works will ensure that the lifting tower remains at the heart of the development. We’re especially excited to take this onto the next level and use the space to benefit the local community as well as those across the city and wider region.”
Dating back to 1850, the lifting tower was one of a pair which stood either side of the river and canal viaduct. Using steam power and large chains, its role was to hoist wagons from the higher-level passenger line down to the Great Northern Goods yard at the original Leeds Central railway station.
Leeds Central station closed in 1967, and the entire complex was demolished apart from the one lifting tower. The lifting tower was made a Grade II listed building and received a Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque in July 2011, making it a specific historical point of interest in Leeds city centre.