Since its inception, the City Campus estate has been an everchanging urban landscape. Many of the original buildings have disappeared or been repurposed. New buildings have emerged, the most recent being the University’s Leeds School of Arts Building.

Leeds Central Colleges at night-time

Leeds College of Technology at night-time, c.1960

Recently the family of Clifford Chew (1903-1985), one-time Principal of the Leeds College of Technology, discovered a photograph of an early manifestation of the campus. The picture is undated but must be from either 1959 or 1960. This photograph shows us the new home of the College of Technology. Long before Leeds Polytechnic became a reality, Leeds Education Committee proposed to combine the Colleges of Technology, Commerce, Art and Housecraft on one nine-acre site; the Leeds Central Colleges. Technology and engineering were in the ascendancy, a mood captured and exploited by Harold Wilson in his 1963 ‘white heat’ speech.

Calverley Building (the proposed home of Commerce) is absent behind Portland Building. The Colleges of Housecraft and Art had yet to appear on site. The cars in the foreground, featuring models from the late 1950s, are eerily lit by atmospheric street lighting. The absence of any human presence perhaps highlights a sense of other-worldliness.  The low building on the left was the original 1956 Mechanical Engineering building, later known as A Block; it was demolished in 2007 and is now the site of the new Arts Building.

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