View Full Version : Archived: Union Church, Leeds Feb '09

06-02-2010, 02:25 PM
Can't stop for long. I have a very important phone call to make.
This place is very lucky it hasn't been posted straight into the bin. Its escape is for two reasons- one it is Leeds, and a few folk would have seen it before, and secondly, it has the potential to be an exciting lead. However, today's explore is nothing like exciting. Under no circumstances should any hopes be raised.
We are in (South Central) Chapeltown, a run down and edgy part of Leeds. Originally the wealthy Jews built their villas and mansions here, today they are cared up into cheap bedsits and flats. Over thirty years ago, Peter Sutcliffe, The Yorkshire Ripper, drove these streets looking for women to murder, picking up his victims from nearby Spencer Place and the now demolished Hayfield pub, a couple of hundred yards from where we are today.
This is the Grade II listed building, originally the Newton Park (Union Church) Congregational Baptist, built in 1887 to designs by Leeds Architect, Archibald Neill and most recently a Sikh Gudwara. Up there is a 1916 Potts clock, being moved from Wellington Station, Leeds. I didn't get into this building. Oh no. Nothing like this good.
It's a 520 seater church here, which could be very good, as it is disused. Look, it's got no steps.

However today readers, we are heading round the back, to one of the most depressing sites ever seen on this very forum. The building we are looking at some point was Royal Airforce Association Club, a Sunday School and the premises of the Old Central Hebrew Congregational Synagogue. Is it in good condition? Well, have a look at this.

To give you an idea of what Chapeltown was like, on the 23rd of September 2003, four separate fires broke out. Alas, one was this place. (Mike Davies pictures, if you were unsure)http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii273/thedownings10/Pic5.jpg

I had put off going here for a while. Unfortunately for you, I visited this morning. Imagine your disappointment over the next ten seconds, and then multiply it by a thousand to get a small percentage of how I felt as I triumphantly entered the building.

Wiping away the tears of dismay, it was clear I was a decade too late. Fire damage and no roof had done its worst.

To add insult to injury, It was very clear that my early morning visit had indeed been selected on the dullest day of the millennium.

It was at this point I made a terrible discovery. I had no ability to use my camera. Try hard as I might, each photograph produced resembled something a gibbon at a zoo would have taken. Using a 1970's camera. An example of which is here, which, I announce with a heavy heart, is the worst picture on the forum, nay, on the internet today. Feeble justification time – it “may” be the remains of the baptism thing, from many years ago. There were an identical set of steps to the right of this “image”. I couldn't bring myself to show those.

It is possible that at this very moment, I was experiencing some extreme brain activity or seizure. Quite why I thought some rusting old chairs would be acceptable to photograph I don't know.

The scaffolding is concreted into a huge block. Even though I was already behaving like a chimpanzee with the camera, I made no attempt to scale it.

At this point I was balanced perilously on a pile of rubble feebly attempting to work out how to control the camera. An elderly Jamaican lady peered in through a half boarded window frame and saw your hapless reporter. I nodded at her. She shook her head and walked on. I can only hope she thought I was some village idiot, or some sort of simpleton. She would have been correct.
In the lower right hand part of the snap is a rubble filled slope down to a cellar. I had no torch. It might be interesting. Or perhaps not.

A room remained. It was rubbish, like the rest of this sorry place. In fact, I'm rubbish.

I'm using flash on this one. So shoot me. No, wait, we are in Chapeltown, That is probably going to happen anyway.

It was a bit like those films of war damage after the blitz, only a bit worse.

This is what you have had to put up with for the last few minutes, a tour around here. Quite why I thought it was worth it I have no clue. Perhaps they intend to keep the walls. I hope they do. You can see the church I failed to see above the nasty ruin.
FACT: This picture looks more colourful than it did this morning.

There is an irony that the only interesting thing I took this morning was not during the explore. This is on a lovely gatepost near where I parked, and dropped litter. And attempted to sell some pegs after the explore.

Right, that is it. Sorry for that. I'm off to make that phone call now.


“Good morning”

“Hello there, is that the Dignitas Clinic?”