HISTORY

Left Bank Leeds occupies the former St Margaret of Antioch Anglican church.  The building was designed by the architect Temple Moore in what has become known as “late gothic revival style”.  It was built between 1906-1908.  The porch, designed by George Pace was added in the 1960s.  It is a grade II* listed building.

Key Milestones

2013 – The Narnia Experience – an amazing community theatre production, which performed 166 shows to over 5000 people.  Our first in-house street food and beer festivals.

2012 –  Entertainments licence granted for Left Bank to hold more arts events; silent films with live accompaniment, Cardigan Triangle Arts Day, our first jazz gig and our first book launch; special mention at the Leeds Architectural Awards.

2011 – Completion of major repairs; winning one of the first national Heritage Angel Awards, sponsored by Lord Lloyd-Webber, which recognised all the hard work of our volunteers over more than 15 years.

2010 – Our first season of summer weddings, our first fashion show, swing dancing classes, regular circus skills practice, the Big Lunch, a music video, an interactive theatre production, “The Crossing” and a brilliant Christmas party.  Leeds-born singer, Corinne Bailey Rae became Left Bank Leeds’ Patron.

2009 – First public events – the Expo sound art festival, Heritage Open Days, an Advent-themed art exhibition, a candlelit carol service with the Heritage Singers.

2007 – Roof and window repairs begun.

2006 – First Heritage Lottery grant secured for repairs to the roof.

2002 – Local charity, Word of Life, buys the building.

Historical Timeline

1995 – St Margaret’s building left empty after St Margaret’s and All Hallows’ congregations merge.

1964 – Porch & rose window added by GG Pace.

1963 – St Margaret’s granted Grade II* listed status.

1910 – July; consecration of St Margaret’s.

1909 – February; dedication of St Margaret’s by the Bishop of Richmond.

1908 – Building completed as far as funds allowed; the temporary west wall is still in place today.

1907 – October; commemorative stone laid by Alderman Tetley at the West End.

1906 – Work on new building begins.

1901 – Temple Moore commissioned to develop plans for new building.

1900 – Easter; separate Sunday School building completed.

1899 – January; first monthly Parish magazine published.

1898 – March; temporary iron building dedicated by Archdeacon Kilner.

1897 – Rev A H Kelk moves into the parsonage.

For more information click on the links below:

How Left Bank Came About
Key Milestones
Historical Milestones
The history of the St Margaret of Antioch Church
1897 – 1910 The Birth of St Margaret’s
1910 – 1990s
The architecture of the building
St Margaret of Antioch

How Left Bank came about, 1995 – today

Mike Love, one of Left Bank’s steering group, was first inspired by the building way back in 1978, when it was in regular use as a local Anglican church.  When the building was closed in 1995, Mike began to imagine how the building could be used in the future and eventually a group of local people set up a charity which bought the building in 2002.  The initial plan was to carry on using the building quite traditionally as a church, but gradually a parallel vision emerged, to develop the building as a venue for community and professional arts.

At first, damage to the roof and an infestation of pigeons meant the building was a health hazard and unfit for regular use.  Thanks to generous funding from a private trust and from the Heritage Lottery Fund we were able to begin repair works in 2007.  We have raised over £800,000 so far, most of which has been for the repair work to the building.  We hope you’ll agree it’s been worth the effort.

Major roof and window repairs weren’t completed until 2011, but Left Bank successfully hosted its first public music events in September 2009, as part of Expo 09, the national festival of experimental sound art.

The building was originally built through the efforts of local people, for local people.  There are many challenges to keeping the building open, but with the support of friends and volunteers, we hope that local people will be able to enjoy its grandeur for many years to come.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Left Bank, putting in hundreds of hours every year, working on events and helping plan for the future. In 2011 this was recognised when we won one of the inaugural Heritage Angel Awards.

[testimonial author=”Andrew Lloyd Webber, Melvyn Bragg, Bettany Hughes, Charles Moore, Simon Thurley” job=”Heritage Angels Awards”]“… the winners stood out for their passion, perseverance and imagination, for the scale of the challenges they had taken on and for the legacy they leave behind…”[/testimonial]


The history of the St Margaret of Antioch Church
The building was built in 1906-1908 and was paid for through the fund-raising of local people.  It was designed by Temple Lushington Moore in neo-Gothic revival style and is Grade II* listed. It was home to a local Anglican congregation until 1995, when the building became too difficult to maintain.

1897 – 1910 The Birth of St Margaret’s

St Margaret’s was established to serve the houses which had been built between Cardigan Road and Royal Park Road in the 1890s.

A temporary iron building was erected in 1898 and used as church, Sunday School and social club.  It was very hot in the summer, and right from the start, raising funds for a permanent church building were discussed.

The parish decided it needed a separate Sunday School building as a priority, which was finally finished at Easter 1900, just in time for the Easter Parochial Tea but “the room was not quite complete, and was somewhat disfigured with scaffold poles”.

The first edition of the monthly Parish magazine was in January 1899, for which subscriptions were sought, and around 800 were taken up. This magazine contained notices from St Margaret’s church calendar itself as well as ‘short articles for instruction and information on general church subjects’ which included serialised stories, recipes, and articles on places around the world where the Anglican Church was working. [Link Parish magazines from 1961, 1900 and 1970].

The congregation raised funds for a permanent church building, holding bazaars at Leeds Town Hall, collecting door to door, approaching neighbouring businesses, parishes and the Diocese.

In 1905 enough funds had been raised to commission the architect Temple Moore to design the building.  It was built between 1906 and 1908 at a cost of £10,500 (approximately £1.1m at 2014 values).


1910 – 1990s

From the start, the building inspired people, with its wonderful arches and high ceiling, as well as its sense of peace and space.  In 1920, the new Vicar, Rev B. Combe, wrote:

“I am learning every week to understand better your pride in St Margaret’s Church. For every week shews me new beauties in the building, and I am now almost used to being introduced to fellow clergy with such additional remarks as: “St Margaret’s – it’s the finest Church in Leeds.” Its stern grandeur in Lent, followed by its glory on Easter Day, was almost over-powering.”

For many years the parish celebrated St Margaret’s Day on July 20th with parades, services, teas and trips out to tourist spots, such as Scarborough, Ripon and Blackpool.

Parish life carried on in the building, with all the usual events and groups that are associated with Anglican Parishes – Sunday services, baptisms, marriages and deaths, Men’s Society, confirmation classes, Musical Society, Bazaars, Mothers Union, Whitsun Parades, and groups for Children and teachers, as well as the annual Parochial excursion.

[Interior and Exterior of St Margaret’s in use – probably dated 1950s]

The west end (nearest Cardigan Rd) was never completed.  The front end that we see today dates from 1964, completed by architect GG Pace, who was involved in building Sheffield Cathedral.

The church became well known for its choir, but in the 1980s the congregation dwindled and eventually merged with All Hallows, the other congregation in the parish.  The building closed in 1995.


The architecture of the building

St Margaret’s was built to the designs of Temple Lushington Moore (1856 – 1920), who was the architect of many fine churches in Yorkshire and the North East in the three decades before the First World War.  These include St Wilfrid’s Church in Harrogate, which is Grade 1 listed and more than 20 buildings in or near the North York Moors, (see http://www.templemooretrail.co.uk/).

Moore’s earliest designs for St. Margaret’s included a huge tower at the west (Cardigan Rd) end, which was abandoned as too costly.  The final design envisaged a compact towerless rectangle, with provision for a further west bay to be added later.  It would have had some simple and easily removable construction for whenever works on that were to start, but funds were never raised to add the final bay to the west end.

At the consecration, the exterior was noted by a reporter in the Leeds Observer as ‘exceedingly plain in appearance’ but the interior as ‘particularly spacious, dignified and handsome’.

Moore’s style stripped away ornament and relied upon ‘good proportion and sweetness of line’.  There is a satisfying contrast between the massive arcade pillars which could have been taken from a Yorkshire abbey, the openness of the arches and the slenderness of the piers between the aisles.

At a lecture at the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) in 1928, the architect Goodhart-Rendel described St. Margaret’s as Temple Moore’s most successful church.

Considered a fine example of the Late Gothic Revival, St Margaret’s is listed Grade II* by English Heritage.  This defines it as a particularly important building of more than special interest.

Moore’s biographer and the leading authority on his work, Dr Geoff Brandwood, considers he was the greatest English church architect of his day.  He says

“Moore produced designs of great beauty and subtlety and greatly enriched our architectural heritage.  Sadly St Margaret’s was never completed as he intended, but the interior is one of his most notable achievements – a powerful, grand design of considerable originality.”

There is a fine Art Nouveau war memorial which remembers those who lost their lives during the First World War.  One of those is A F Kelk, son of the Rev Arthur Hastings Kelk, who served as the first vicar of St Margaret’s from 1887 – 1919.

In 1964 the current west porch and rose window were added, to a design by GG Pace.

St Margaret of Antioch

St Margaret of Antioch was alive in the 3rd and 4th centuries in Antioch, now in modern day Turkey, and she was scorned and tortured because of her Christian faith. Her saint’s day is on July 20th, and the church and its parishioners used to celebrate the day with parades, services, teas and a trip out to local tourist spots, such as Scarborough, Ripon and Blackpool. More can be found on her here: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_the_Virgin]