St.Anne’s R.C. Cathedral was built in 1838 on the corner of Cookridge Street and what was to become the wide, boulevard-like feature that is The Headrow, in the city centre of Leeds.
The church was demolished to make way for a planned show-piece building and was re-built in 1904, 100 metres up Cookridge Street where it stands today, in all it’s Arts and Crafts architectural glory.
The show-piece building which replaced it in 1930/31 was a superb Art-deco vision in Portland stone and red brick, the headquarters of the Leeds Permanent Building Society. It made quite a statement, and was later Grade II listed, to protect it’s architectural features.
When Leeds Building Society re-located in the 1990’s, the rooms were utilised by Leeds City Council as offices until big plans for a new shopping centre were confirmed.
The original features were of course preserved sensitively, complimented by sympathetic extensions, mostly in glass, The Light complex opened in 2001.
It has a glass covered atrium which created an indoor street on two levels.
Now with 35,500 sq.ft. of retail heaven, worship of a different kind could take place on the site.
Brown’s Restaurant took over the high ceilinged banking hall on the ground floor, whilst a modern gym, 14 screen cinema and many other restaurants, bars and shops came into being. A large multi-storey car park within the complex took the strain out of parking in the very centre of Leeds.
Chief amongst the new arrivals at The Light was the Four Star, Radisson Blu Hotel.
This high-grade hotel has 147 bedrooms and all the usual hotel amenities one would expect.
It was to the hotel’s FireLake Grill and Cocktail Bar we repaired one wintery January afternoon. We had heard good things locally about the afternoon teas and set out to investigate.
On entering the restaurant, it was clear that the design gurus had been at work. The craggy features of one of Leeds’ sons, Peter O’Toole, gazed down upon us from one entire end wall.
The smart grey and black tones of the furniture and painted brickwork were easy on the eye. Huge, arched windows from the original features provided natural daylight.
Subtle, subdued lighting gave the place a relaxed ambience. Grey leather seats arranged in private booths around the walls were plush and very comfortable. An open fire-pit glowed warmly, highlighting the odd splash of colour around the room. A stylish place indeed.
Staff were the epitome of attentive unobtrusion, with a ready smile and ease of manner.
Once settled into the depths of the seating, the afternoon tea was brought to the table on a portable, dark wood bookcase affair, with separate compartments for the delectable treats.
I am rarely moved to photograph my food, but this was an exception.
For the two of us, three different and thickly topped open sandwiches on crusty granary bread were accompanied by a hot BBQ pulled pork bun. Three extravagantly creamy towers of assorted flavours were supplemented by two slices of lemon cheesecake, two slices of gingerbread, and two slices of chocolate brownie. Two fruited scones with sweet butter and a pot of strawberry jam completed the feast.
Freshly ground coffee and loose-leaf tea, with refills, provided the lubrication.
Even with a two hour ‘graze’, we could not manage all the treats and a sealed plastic box was presented to us to take home the rest of the goodies.
A low-level jazzy/bluesy soundtrack played throughout our visit, combined with the terrific food, the ambience and the open fire-pit made for a wonderfully relaxed and soporific afternoon which stretched into the darkness of the early evening.
We struggled to leave.
It seems everything we had heard about the place was true. Not cheap at £16 per head usually, but so worth it for a memorable afternoon. We will be back.
Further details can be found at “Radisson Blu Leeds website”:https://www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-leeds