Lion Arcade, John William Street, Huddersfield
- also known as: Royal Arcade (original name), Lion Chambers, Lion Buildings
- location: John William Street, Huddersfield
- status: still exists
- category: commercial building
- architect: James Pigott Pritchett (1789-1868)
The initial newspaper reports during construction named the building the "Royal Arcade". However, once the lion — by John Seeley of London — had been raised in February 1853, it was known as the Lion Arcade.
Discovering Old Huddersfield
Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
The first building to be seen by visitors coming to the town by rail is the Lion Building which faces the station across the Square. It was built by Samuel Oldfield and designed by James Pigott Pritchett who was also responsible for the railway station, the Parish Church and the college in New North Road.
Pritchett's original designs were submitted for approval to William Tite, the Ramsden's architectural consultant, who disapproved and suggested certain amendments. Work started on the building, to Tile's amendments, in 1852 and was completed in 1854. It would appear that both builder and architect resented Tite's interference for the latter comments in a letter to the Ramsden's agent: "I wonder that Pritchett and Oldfield are being troublesome." Later in the same letter (quoted by D.J. Wyles in "The Buildings of Huddersfield") Tite says: "I am sure, without vanity, they are greatly indebted to me for putting a very crude design into shape and proportion" Faced with an attitude like that it is hardly surprising that the two men felt aggrieved.
When finished, the building was opened as shops, offices and storerooms. The original white lion atop the building which was modelled by John Seeley began, after a hundred and twenty years of weathering and environmental pollution, to crumble and it was replaced in 1978 by a fibre glass replica. As to the building itself, we must leave it to our readers to decide for themselves whether it compares favourably or not with the other buildings in the Square.
Historic England Listing
- Grade II*
- first listed 29 September 1978
- listing entry number 1134167
JOHN WILLIAM STREET (East Side). Lion Buildings. 1853. Architect J P Pritchett. Ashlar sandstone. Hipped slate roof. Three storeys. Composed with rounded and pavilions, central pavilion breaking forward and a central frontispiece. This has coupled columns on each floor (attached Tuscan on ground floor, detached composite above), taking pediment and parapet with entablature, paired pilasters, and giant free-standing coade stone statue of lion by Seeley. The corners of each pavilion are marked on first floor by paired attached composite columns (outer ones square), as is the central pavilion alone on the second floor also. The first floor also has paired attached composite columns in middle of wall between each pavilion, and two single columns spaced regularly round curve of end pavilions. On St Peter's Street elevation there are three pairs of Tuscan pilasters, one at corner with Wood Street and two others flanking central group of windows. Ground floor has modern shopfronts separated by rusticated and vermiculated pilasters, arched central doorway with moulded voussoirs and imposts, and keystone with dragon and crown inscribed. Dentilled cornice. On Northumberland Street elevation a mezzanine is inserted below ground floor cornice, consisting of sashes framed by Tuscan pilasters according to the following rhythm: major pilaster-3-major pilaster-1-minor pilaster-1-minor pilaster-1-major pilaster-3-major pilaster. First floor has full entablature which breaks forward and is dentilled over each pair of columns, and the windows of the frontispiece are provided with a stone balcony on paired scrolled consoles. Windows are round-arched sashes with moulded voussoirs, and are separated by Ionic colonnettes: they are grouped in the following rhythm, Northumberland Street elevation: 1-1-1-2 (crowned by pediment) -1-1-1. End pavilion: 2-3-2. St George's Square elevation: 4-4. Central pavilion: 4-3 (central one slightly wider and higher) -4. St George's Square elevation (cont): 4-4. End pavilion: 2-3-2. St Peter's elevation: 2-1-2-1-2. Second floor has modillioned entablature, save at end pavilions where modillions become consoles. Fenestration is same as first floor, save on St George's Square elevation where grouping is as follows: 2-1-2-2-1-2-2-1-2. Some semblance of order is given to this otherwise chaotic design, but only above the eaves cornice. Here the end pavilions have a solid parapet with cornice (inscribed "Lion Arcade" in relief), piers with ornamental caps and huge flanking ornamental scrolls, while central pavilion has balustrade with moulded rail, pairs of square Tuscan columns with ornamental caps at ends, and square Ionic balusters. Over the frontispiece comes the parapet with "1853" in relief and the lion on top.
Notes and References
- Although not specified in contemporary newspaper reports, the lion likely made from Seeley's "artificial limestone" — a mixture of Portland cement, broken stone, pounded marble and coarse sand that was poured cold into the cast.