Burley Branch Library, including front railings


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
230 Cardigan Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1QL


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Statutory Address:
230 Cardigan Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1QL

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Leeds (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Former library, now disused, 1926, by Gilbert Burdett Howcroft. Mellow red brick with Portland stone and sandstone dressings, single-storey plus basement. Neo-Georgian style.

Reasons for Designation

Burley Branch Library, constructed in 1926, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* Design quality: Burley's neo-Georgian design displays a careful attention to detail that belies its tiny scale; * Planning: the original internal layout remains intact and retain its three distinct principal spaces of the lending library flanked by a junior room and reading room; * Interior quality and survival: the little altered interior retains a wealth of original features, including coffered and barrel-vaulted ceilings, extensive carved woodwork, the enquiries kiosk and issuing desk, signage lettering, built-in bookcases, glazed screens, and cast-iron radiators with tesserae back panels;

Historic interest:

* Burley is a well-preserved example of a small inner-city branch library built to serve the local working class population.


Burley Branch Library was designed by Gilbert Burdett Howcroft of Uppermill and was opened on 15 June 1926 by Alderman Sir Percy Jackson, Chairman of the West Riding Education Committee, and a trustee of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. The library cost £8338 to construct, with most of the funding coming from the Carnegie Trust and the rest from Leeds Council.

The library closed in February 2016, and at the time of writing it is being used as the temporary site office for a neighbouring student flat development.

Gilbert Burdett Howcroft was a lieutenant in the First World War and colonel in the Second World War, and designed the Grade II war memorial obelisk on the top of Alderman’s Hill, Saddleworth. He was later President of the Manchester Society of Architects in 1953-5.


Former library, now disused, 1926, by Gilbert Burdett Howcroft. Mellow red brick with Portland stone and sandstone dressings, single-storey plus basement. Neo-Georgian style.

PLAN: the former library's front elevation faces E onto Cardigan Road and its S wall abuts a modern building built on the site of a printers and lithographers that was originally located next to the library. Buildings adjoining the library's N wall have been demolished. To the rear is an area of waste ground that backs onto a railway line incorporating the remains of former coal drops.

The building has a tripartite plan internally with three rooms (junior room, lending library and reading room) laid alongside each other in a row with an entrance hall to the centre front.

EXTERIOR: externally the building has painted cast-iron rainwater goods and multipaned metal casement windows that are designed to give the appearance of Georgian sash windows.

The symmetrical front (E) elevation has brickwork laid in Flemish bond with Portland stone dressings, and is of nine-bays with a central bay that projects forward slightly to form the main entrance. The entrance comprises square-panel double doors set within a classical doorcase with Greek key decoration and an entablature supported by carved consoles. Above the doorcase is a large stone with a carved inscription that reads 'BURLEY BRANCH', and the head of the bay has an Art Deco style shallow pediment with an inscription that reads 'CITY OF LEEDS/ PUBLIC LIBRARIES'. The entrance is flanked by small square metal casement windows incorporating a central cross design surrounded by margin lights. The three outer bays at each side of the elevation have windows with carved surrounds incorporating wave decoration to the sills and shallow flat hoods supported on carved consoles; the three to the left light the junior room, whilst the three to the right light the reading room. Above the windows is a narrow projecting band with a larger eaves cornice above. The roof, which incorporates roof lanterns over the flat roofed sections of the entrance hall, junior room and reading room, and a barrel-vaulted roof and lantern over the central lending library, is hidden from view by a parapet with flat copings. Projecting out from each side of the entrance and incorporating two curved sections before continuing across the elevation in front of two large basement wells are painted cast-iron railings surmounting a sandstone plinth and incorporating narrow panels with pierced guilloche-style detailing. The basement, which is set below a plinth-like band, has a series of window openings (three of which have inserted vent covers) aligned with those to the ground floor.

The rear (W) elevation is in an irregular Flemish bond and incorporates a shaped gable to the centre belonging to the lending library. Part of the lending library's barrel-vaulted roof with a full-length roof lantern above can just be seen. The lending library is lit by a large multipaned window, with a smaller version lighting the reading room to the left. The junior room is set back to the right and is lit by a window in the same style as that to the reading room, with an additional window to its left lighting the basement stair. All the windows have plain sandstone lintels and brick sills. The basement level has a series of bricked-up windows (most of the windows survive internally) and an access door to the SW corner.

The building's N wall is hidden by the remaining brick skin of a demolished building.

INTERIOR: internally the ground floor has high ceilings of nearly double-height proportions. There are parquet floors, moulded cornicing, and cast-iron radiators throughout. The interior woodwork is of oak and includes wall panelling and built-in bookcases lining the walls. There are a mixture of solid six-panel doors and glazed doors with margin lights.

An entrance vestibule with a blue and pink tesserae floor incorporating an in-built recess for a carpet mat and glazed double doors with margin lights leads into a long entrance hall aligned N-S with oak pillars to the four corners of the space and wall panelling up to head height that incorporates an architrave surrounding the main entrance. The entrance hall is top-lit by a large roof lantern and at each N and S end are glazed double doors in the same style as those to the vestibule, which lead through into the reading room and junior room respectively; above the doors to the N end is lettering that reads 'READING ROOM.', whilst above those to the S end is lettering that reads 'JUNIOR ROOM.'. Set to the centre of the entrance hall's wide W wall is a panelled oak enquiries kiosk with a tripartite design comprising a canted-bay central section with a leaded and stained-glass window incorporating a hatch with lettering reading 'ENQUIRIES', flanked by glazed display cabinets with lettering reading 'NEW BOOKS'. Surmounting the canted bay is a large clock case (the clock has been removed). To each side of the kiosk are doors with glazed upper panels that lead through to the lending library and issuing desk located behind the enquiries kiosk; that to the right has lettering above reading 'IN' and that to the left has lettering above reading 'OUT'. The upper halves of the entrance hall's three internal walls are glazed with margin lights in the style of those to the doors below. Affixed to the E wall to the left of the main entrance is a large plaque recording the funding and opening of the library.

The three rooms of the junior room, lending library and reading room are laid alongside each other in a row from S-N respectively. The junior room is smaller than the other two spaces and has a coffered ceiling with patterned ventilators; the room's roof lantern has been covered over internally. Bookcases and panelling line the walls up to head height (the height of the window sills) and are interspersed with sections of buff-coloured glazed tiling and pink, blue, yellow, black, and white tesserae with radiators set in front. Three square oak pillars with carved capitals incorporating relief roundel decoration and carved shafts and bases separate the junior room from the lending library. It is believed that originally partly-glazed panelled screens in-filled the openings between the pillars.

The lending library is a large space with a 20-ft high barrel-vaulted ceiling incorporating patterned ventilators and a wide central glazed section running the full length of the ceiling with a roof lantern above (just visible through the glazing). Set to the centre of the E end of the space is a box-shaped issuing desk that retains its original drawers, cupboards and shelving. The desk is flanked by 'in' and 'out' doorways leading through to the entrance hall; both doors each have adjacent sections of oak panelling and posts that form baffles creating queuing areas for book returns and issues. The W end of the lending library has built-in bookcases and a doorway to the SW corner with a six-panel door adorned with lettering that reads 'PRIVATE' that accesses the basement stair. The N wall of the lending library has square oak pillars in the same style as those to the S side, but on this side the spaces in between the piers are in-filled with original panelled screens with built-in shelving and large glazed upper sections incorporating margin lights. A six-panel door to the NW corner of the lending library with lettering that reads 'PRIVATE' leads through into the reading room.

The reading room is of similar dimensions to the lending library, but is in the style of the junior room with a coffered ceiling (the roof lantern is covered over internally). The room's wall panelling, built-in bookcases and shelving survive to the S and W walls, along with the glazed-tiling and tesserae behind two of the room's cast-iron radiators, but the panelling and tiling have been removed from the N and E walls. It is understood that the bookcase shelving from these two walls survives in the basement.

The basement stair, which is located off the lending library, has a timber balustrade and painted-metal stick balusters and leads down to a large basement containing a series of office, staff, storage and service rooms, as well as a sink washing area, toilet and fire exit. The basement, which has concrete flooring, retains original built-in cupboards in two rooms on the E side, two-panel doors and simple door architraves, and has later pipework inserted to some of the rooms. The sink washing area has a blue and pink glazed-tile and tesserae dado and one of the rooms on the E side also has a glazed-tile and tesserae dado (partly damaged and painted over) in the same style. The far N section of the basement, which is identified on its access door as a discard store, has a sloping earth floor, concrete columns and contains a later electricity substation* that is not of special interest.

* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.




This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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