Random Ramblings; books, music, films, other stuff…
When the iconic Leeds landmark, Tetley’s Brewery closed in 2011, it was a sad day for the city. A piece of Leeds history since the early 19th century, I for one feared that the site would play home to yet another development of generic city centre apartments. When the site demolition took started in 2012, one building was spared; the beautiful old 1930s Headquarters building. One of the strengths of Leeds is it’s architecture and the fact that this building has escaped demolition (despite not being Listed) is fantastic. This weekend, the building was opened as The Tetley, a centre for contemporary art. This morning I headed down for a nosey around..
What I found was great juxtaposition of the history of the building and the modern art it houses. The renovation has saved many original features; a gorgeous art deco staircase and lift, the original revolving entrance door, the war memorial for Tetley staff and gorgeous wood paneled rooms (I particularly loved the fact that the original brass office name plates remain).
There are many original documents and artefacts from the Tetley Brewery days on display in the Tetley Collection and the original board room looks stunning.
Until February 2014, The Tetley is exhibiting a nod to it’s roots. A New Reality and Fear of the Surplus both explore work, labour, welfare and industry. The Tetley is clearly in it’s early days but has massive potential to be one of the key cultural go-tos in the city. I’m slightly concerned that by maintaining the small side rooms and offices as exhibition space, it will need to be carefully curated, given the smallness of the space, in order to leave adequate viewing space for visitors. There was a definite “new” feeling today with what seemed like a hundred of enthusiastic, smiley and chatty staff all looking very excited. The restoration is fantastic, it’s early days but hopefully The Tetley will attract some good installations in the future to really bring the space alive.
The facilities here are good too. The bar area is cosy and uses some of the original Tetley Brewery furniture. There’s an extensive drinks list (including Tetley’s) and a variety of bar food from breakfasts to sandwiches to platters. Just beyond lies a restaurant space serving the bar menu and more formal mains and desserts with a definite focus on Yorkshire produce (a member of staff let me sneak a look at the menu…I wanted to eat it all!)/ Chef, Anthony Flinn is heading up the food side of the venture so it’s bound to live up to expectations. There is a large car park with reasonable charges and the whole gallery seems to be family friendly.
I can’t wait to see how The Tetley develops in the future. I intend to go back for some of the Fear of the Surplus talks being held between now and early January (details of these are here). An exciting development for culture in Leeds. I’m impressed with what’s been achieved here.
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