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County Arcade in Leeds Victoria Quarter

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Several popular guide books have called these restored Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades among the top 20 sites in England.
19th Century County Arcade in Leeds Victoria Quarter

County Arcade in Leeds Victoria Quarter

© Ferne Arfin
The Victoria Quarter consists of several linked arcades that run between Briggate, a pedestrian area that is Leeds' central retail street, and Vicars Lane. This glamorous shopping precinct was created to replace an area of slaughterhouses and slums in the late 1890s.

The development, which included County Arcade and Cross Arcade, was designed by Frank Matcham. That may account for the arcades' extreme theatricality. Matcham was an architect more noted for his theatre building. He designed more than 200 theaters around the the UK including the London Palladium and the London Coliseum. In fact, his shopping arcade development for Leeds did include The Empire Theater. It later became the Empire Arcade and now houses the Leeds branch of fashion retailer Harvey Nichols.

In the early 1990s, these Grade II* listed arcades were restored and the Victoria Quarter created. To create an additional arcade, adjacent Queen Victoria Street was roofed beneath an enormous expanse of stained glass, the largest stained glass window in Britain, by Brian Clarke.

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