Bland and Brutal

Leeds has some wonderful architecture, dating from the last two hundred years. There are grandiose arcades, pillars and domes, swags and drapes, cattle-skulls, angels, gargoyles and even a prototype atom (constructed before the discovery of the electron). Everywhere there are elegant and whimsical details perched on rooftops and tucked away in doorways.
But there is one sinister fortress which, though carefully designed, has no artistic merit. Quarry House is, in my humble opinion a bland and brutal temple of disappointment. Wikipedia helpfully points out that this building is known as ‘The Kremlin’ or ‘The Ministry of Truth’.
This mansion houses the central NHS administration, and has a bulging frontage with numerous tiny windows. Perched on top is a magnificent aerial which transmits radio signals to control the population of Leeds; if a revolutionary brigade were to storm this building and blow up that metal steering wheel, everybody for miles around would drop to the floor like severed marionettes.
Perhaps the best way to enjoy Leeds is to start the day with Fish and Chips for breakfast at the Trinity, then wander out to look at ‘The Kremlin’. If any building could scream 1984, this is it!
Breakfast  krem2krem1


Atomic Church

Here in Leeds we have a church spire boasting a Telstar wire-cage atom, defended by a phalanx of angry gargoyles. There is also a romantic frieze on a building society wall, and a few miles up the road we find Bradford, where a recent pride parade was held.

“From high above the city an atomic eye keeps watch; like
A hawk suspended on the wind, it sees occasional
Strangers make their puddled way past bright shop windows
The night is still but still not dark, our streetlights keep
The past at bay. The people dare not speak, too weak to care
About the ornate walls or slender spires, while
Between the shadows darts a fox in silent elegance.”

The Church of the Atomic Eye is actually the Church Institute, built in 1868 and designed by Adams and Kelly. On her website ‘’ the historian Jacqueline Banerjee gives a brief account of this building together with a photograph showing the splendid Gothic windows.

Atom1 Atom2 Brad Prid1 frieze1