Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Bodington Hall - An Outstanding Redevelopment Opportunity
This is the sign at the entrance to the out-of-town University of Leeds halls of residence, Bodington Hall. Interestingly, the University of Leeds seem to still be selling it as a conference venue. However, the website says this is the last semester that there will be students here.
I went for a dérive there today and it was looking a bit like a ghost town. In fact I saw more squirrels than people: only one student, two older people at a bus stop, a cleaner and a lorry driver. It's a large complex of halls, that up till now had 1140 beds. It has large sports fields, a social centre and its own one-way road system. Truly "an outstanding redevelopment opportunity"!
But what is the most significant of its attributes is this fabulous frieze by Hubert Dalwood, who was in the Fine Art Department at the University of Leeds for a while. I'm in the process of finding out its future.
The buildings of the style above were completed in 1963 and photos of them appear in the 1963 Chamberlin, Powell and Bon architectural plan (although the actual architects were Jones and Stocks). This is what the Times said about the halls in 1961: "a building of considerable grace and dignity". Nevertheless, I guess grace and dignity will be built over by some hideous "toy town" type of contemporary housing (call me cynical). These 1960s buildings (above) look pretty good and have in the large part been well-maintained. These other buildings (see below) look like they may date from the late 70s or early 80s. But I have no further information on them at present.
And what about this great chimney, which looks positively Victorian, although I'm sure it's from 1960. It's attached to something that looks like the engine room, which has a similar look to the 1960s halls.
This campus space is in 'the middle of nowhere', as it might be for a student wanting to be in the hub of things (in the rush hour it takes 45mins for students to get to the campus by bus). So, I thought I'd try and find what there was on-site for them in terms of amenities. I was surprised that I could get into the main hall, which I entered in an attempt to find coffee for myself. I saw a sign which said 'Bod Shop' but when I found Bod Shop, it was shut.
There was also a bar, which was only open on occasions, it said, due to lack of demand. And a billiards hall, which looks like it was still stuck in the sixties.
So, what is to become of this space when it is bought by a property developer? Well, I'm sure this fabulous building, which supports the lovely frieze, won't be kept. Look at those great windows and the elevated floor.
Click here to see a super aerial photo of the halls and to appreciate how large it is - oh, and to see the marketing blurb in terms of the sale: DTZ
The University of Leeds: A Very Short History
70s Photo of Mortain House, Bodington Hall
70s Photo of Vaughan House, Bodington Hall