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


2 thoughts on “Atomic Church

  1. In the tallest tower of the city hall few denizens of this city, transformed from the dark satanic mills and soot blackened buildings, are aware of the ornate offerings of long past Mayors. The very men who were responsible for the growth of Bradford, yet who kept a work force in miserable conditions.

    From what I remember after long past Lord Mayor and Councillor Herbert Moran gave me a guided tour of City Hall. One has climb many stairs at the top there is a vaulted room, with heavy steel door set ajar. As we entered we were surrounded by glass fronted cabinets, with grandiose ornate pieces of silver each one presented to the town of Bradford as it was, in their day. The tradition had been carried on when Bradford became a City, but over time the offerings had reduced to mere silver trinkets.

    The vault held not only these fine crafted pieces, but the table settings, cutlery and other items required for State Visits and formal banquets. Everything glistened for at a table in the middle of the vault a women spent her working life, polishing the silver pieces. When she had completed the circuit, it was time to begin again. As anyone will know if you own the tiniest piece of silver how easily it tarnishes, so imagine a room full of 114 items reflecting the passage of every Mayor and Lord Mayor of the City, and that was in 1974.

  2. Hello Michael,
    Many thanks for posting that comment; I’m glad to have input from someone with a deeper understanding of the Civic history of Leeds and surrounding cities. The various buildings in Leeds and Bradford are impressive enough, but only someone with a proper grasp of local history can appreciate them fully…

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