St Paul's House on St Paul's Street, Leeds, by Thomas Ambler (1838-1920). 1878. This striking "Hispano-Moorish" style building, in red and pink brick with terracotta, has a "pretty pierced parapet with cinquefoil openings ... with five corner minaretlets" (Leach and Pevsner 437) — it was a cloth-cutting works built for John Barran, the founder of the mass-produced, ready-made clothing industry in Leeds. Barran was a Mayor of Leeds and served as its Liberal M.P. from 1876-1885 (Information plaque on wall). It is now used as offices, and the minarets and parapet are fibreglass copies of the originals.

Born locally, Ambler was a Leeds architect who was also important for promoting housing reform for the working classes. Barran was his patron and friend, and this is the most memorable of his commercial town-centre buildings. One source of inspiration was Owen Jones, whose drawings of Alhambra were published in 1842-46, but, as Janet Douglas points out, Cuthbert Brodrick's Oriental Baths in Cookridge Street were "an exemplar nearer to home" (227). Compare this commercial building to a slightly later, perhaps even more exotic, factory building in Glasgow: William Leiper's Templeton Carpet Factory, which forms the backdrop to the Doulton Fountain on Glasgow Green in Scotland.

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Photograph and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Douglas, Janet. "Thomas Ambler (1838-1920)." Building a Great Victorian City: Leeds Architects and Architecture. Ed. Christopher Webster. Huddersfield.: Northern Heritage Publications in Association with the Victorian Society, 2011. 219-37. Print.

Leach, Peter, and Nikolaus Pevsner. Buildings of England: Yorkshire, West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North.. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Print.

Last modified 10 March 2012