A Look at Leeds’ Historical Venues
Creating a lasting impression when hosting a conference or event can be achieved in a variety of ways, be it securing highly-esteemed keynote speakers, hosting a unique range of workshops and plenary sessions, or even offering the best networking opportunities to attending delegates. One popular way in which a real lasting impression can be achieved, however, is through the chosen venue itself. Historical venues hold a high appeal to organisers as they offer a rich history that is unique to the venue itself, and is unlike no other. Whether the venue was originally opened by Queen Victoria, or is home to one of the world’s oldest museum collections, a lasting legacy can be created amongst delegates based on the setting alone.
Leeds is home to many exceptional historical venues, and so take a step back in time and delve into the long history of some of our most interesting conference venues, which should make choosing the perfect space for you, even easier.
Leeds Town Hall
Date Opened: 1858
As one of the most iconic buildings in the city, it’s easy to see why Leeds Town Hall is a popular choice for a conference or event. Opened by Queen Victoria back in 1858 as part of a lavish ceremony, Leeds Town Hall provides a stunning setting for any event, and remains one of the most well-known venues in the city. The building has become famous as an example of Victorian architecture that reflects the wealth, power and confidence of the age in which it was created.
More excitingly, this old venue is currently undergoing a major refurbishment. The investment project will see the stunning Town Hall undergo extensive improvement work over the next few years. The building will benefit from new seating and enhanced sound proofing in the beautiful Victoria Hall, two new bars, a brand new events space which will allow for smaller events, more toilet facilities and a completely new interior decoration scheme for all public areas. The Leeds City Centre Box Office will also relocate to the Victoria Hall level of the Town Hall and a large, fully accessible reception area will be created.
With these new additions, and the excellent features of old, Leeds Town Hall is sure to provide a modern conferencing experience, whilst taking delegates back in time to the Victorian era right here in the heart of the city.
Cloth Hall Court
Date Opened: 18th Century
The renovation of Cloth Hall Court, recently acquired by The University of Leeds, is one of the most transformative projects to take place in Leeds over the last few years. The Grade II listed building was originally constructed for the purpose of trading cloth – specifically Yorkshire Broadcloths, which were cheap, good quality cloths produced in the city’s surrounding areas. These specialised cloths formed the fabric of the city, as Leeds quickly gained traction in its status as a centre for commerce and trade in the wool and cloth industries.
In the summer of 2017, Cloth Hall Court was lovingly restored through a multi-million pound regeneration, which kept the heritage of the site at its core during the process. Each of the site’s 10 conferencing rooms have taken and retained inspiration from the textile industry and include Merchants Hall, Herringbone Suite and Seamstress Boardroom, reminding visitors of the building’s humble origins throughout the conference or event.
What’s more, the venue also exhibits artwork throughout from students at Leeds Beckett University, which all celebrate the venue’s history and Yorkshire’s textile industry, ensuring that it’s an interesting space which cleverly merges modern conferencing with the venue’s interesting past.
Date Opened: Between 1759 – 1771
Built in the 18th Century and sitting at the heart of Yorkshire, Harewood House boasts a rich history and stunning grounds; all within just a short bus ride from Leeds train station.
As one of the Treasure Houses of England built by former West Indies plantation owners, the De Lacselles family, Harewood House features a vast array of fabulous art collections that rival some of the finest in the country. Situated within over 100 acres of Capability Brown landscaped gardens and grounds, the House is also home to a stunning range of exotic and beautiful plants that make taking a walk around the estate a beautiful way to spend an afternoon for any attending delegate.
In addition, Harewood House also boasts the opportunity for delegates to dine amongst one of the best private Renaissance art collections in the country within the Gallery, which can accommodate up to 80 guests. For more intimate parties, the grand State Dining Room and the Stewards Room also offer fantastic alternatives.
The conference space, the Harewood Suite, is located within the 18th Century courtyard and offers a flexible and attractive space that can be adapted to suit a variety of conference types. With sliding walls to alter the size of the room to suit, fast WiFi, onsite parking, a great catering menu and the stunning surroundings, Harewood House is a venue that provides an extremely impressive experience, just a stone’s throw away from the central hub of Leeds city centre.
Date Opened: 1937
As one of Leeds’ most iconic historical venues, The Queens Hotel was initially built as a flagship hotel for Leeds train station, which was designed with Leeds’ new status as an economic powerhouse in mind. It was also the first hotel in the country to offer en-suite bathrooms, making its mark on the UK hotel scene and proving a grand way to spend an evening stay. Back in 1937, when it opened its door for the first time, the price of a one night stay was 10 shillings and sixpence, which equates to approximately £18 today.
Over the years of restoration work that has taken place, with a particular focus on its conferencing and event spaces, care has been taken to maintain its character features, which include the original lifts and the beautiful art-deco inspired windows.
Today The Queens is a popular, luxury hotel that is perfectly located adjacent to Leeds train station, and close to the M1 and M62 motorway networks. Offering 16 flexible conference and meeting rooms all varying in size, including the magnificent Queens Ballroom that boasts a capacity of 500, The Queens is the ideal location for those who are looking to bring a touch of class, elegance and history to their conferences.
The Royal Armouries Museum
Date Opened: 1996
Whilst The Royal Armouries may have only opened its door to the public 24 years ago, it holds ancient artefacts dating back to the fifteenth century, and as a venue, it certainly holds plenty of historical contents for delegates to browse. The museum’s collection was originally housed in the Royal Armouries’ sister museum at the Tower of London in the 15th century, before making its way to Leeds.
Located on Leeds Dock just outside of the city, the striking Royal Armouries building was designed by architect Derek Walker and is one of the city’s largest conferencing venues. Offering five floors of stunning displays, showcasing arms and armour from all across the world, The Royal Armouries boasts one of the world’s oldest museum collections and is sure to make a lasting impression on attending delegates.
So whether you’re looking for one of Yorkshire’s most exclusive and intimate settings, such as the prestigious Edwardian Gunroom or The Hunting Gallery which holds up to 16 people, or you’re looking to host a larger conferencing event in a more minimalist style, similar to The New Dock Hall which holds up to 1,000 people, you can be certain to find a room that meets your requirements at The Royal Armouries Museum.
Date Opened: 1894
The restored Grade II listed building, Aspire, features an eclectic mix of rich history combined with modern, contemporary features, to offer its visitors a truly authentic experience in the very heart of the city.
The site itself was originally the home of Leeds General Infirmary, which was built back in 1771, before its demolition in 1893. Following this, Victorian building Yorkshire Penny Bank was then built in 1894. Today, Aspire stands proud in a space rich in cultural history, and combines modern day facilities with architectural features, offering a prestigious venue for conferences and events.
Perfectly situated within walking distance of Leeds Train Station, and with multiple car parking options, the venue offers a versatile range of large and small rooms, split across its spectacular mezzanine and banking hall, making it ideal for any type of event.
Date Opened: 1969
Having recently celebrated its 50th anniversary at the beginning of the year, Northern Ballet is one of the cultural powerhouses here in the UK, changing the face of dance as we know it both nationally and internationally through its unrivalled training programme and stunning dance performances.
Located in the centre of the city adjacent to the Leeds College of Music the building is the largest dedicated space for dance outside London. This creates a truly unique, city-centre venue that not only offers world-class dance facilities for its two resident companies, Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre, but also acts as an extraordinary venue for conferences and events.
Adding a bespoke touch to any conference or event, clients can also take advantage of Northern Ballet’s remarkable offer of introducing an element of dance to an event through team-building and energiser sessions, or a talk from one of the Northern Ballet’s Artistic team.
Located in the heart of Leeds’ thriving cultural sector, Quarry Hill, the award-winning, eco-friendly building offers a range of spaces available for all types of conferences and events. This includes its versatile Board Suite space, which is located on the top floor of the building and offers stunning, panoramic views of the city, making it ideal for networking events after the conference has finished.
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