Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council with the time capsule and the clockwork of Leeds Town Hall's clock

Town Hall clock’s time capsule a striking reminder of modern Leeds

For more than 160 years it’s been a stalwart of the Leeds skyline, marking off some of the most important moments in the city’s history.

Now a new addition to the iconic Leeds Town Hall clock will capture a moment in the life of modern Leeds for future generations as the building’s landmark refurbishment reaches a new stage. A group of young people working with Leeds Museums and Galleries, installed a time capsule on the imposing timepiece, more than 200 feet above ground level. The group, all aged 14-24, brought together a collection of objects which they feel encapsulate both their own personalities and the character of the city they live in in 2019.

Included in the capsule was a ‘Leeds Owl’ artwork by Holly Lanforth, a display about teenage life during the 2010s, nine Lego Mini Figure avatars created by nine of the Preservative Party, a ‘Cheeky Nando’s’ menu, a mobile phone and a Refugee Education Training Advice Service (RETAS) cookery book donated by Maria Abdulaziz who move to Leeds from Syria and 2018.

Ellie Smith, 24, a committed vegan whose Lego avatar shows her holding an apple said:

“It’s as close to putting ourselves into the time capsule as we can get.”

Fellow curator Callum Rushworth, 20 added:

“It feels interesting to be preserved in a time capsule, in a good way! I don’t really want to be a chicken nugget scientist, I just thought it would be funny for people in the future to read it!”

Opened by Queen Victoria back in 1858, Leeds Town Hall is currently undergoing extensive improvement work, including the creation of exciting new events spaces and facilities. The refurbishment will also include new seating and enhanced sound proofing in the beautiful Victoria Hall, two new bars, a new event space for smaller events, more toilet facilities and a completely new interior decoration scheme for all public areas.

Leeds City Centre Box Office will also relocate to the Victoria Hall level of the town hall and a large, fully accessible reception area will be created. Funding for the project, which will secure a key heritage asset, will come from Leeds City Council’s capital fund, with some of the costs of the interior refurbishments, including the organ and seating, funded by a public campaign.

Award winning architects Page\Park are now designing the scheme, with work expected to start in 2021. The building is scheduled to reopen in 2022 in time for the Leeds 2023 city-wide cultural festival.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, met the young people at the installation said:

“The redevelopment of Leeds Town Hall is a landmark moment in the history of this beautiful heritage asset and it’s fitting that we capture exactly what it will mean to the city and the people who live here.

“This imaginative group of passionate young history-lovers have worked hard to capture what Leeds means to them and I hope in decades to come, when this time capsule is opened, it will give future generations an impression of the vibrant and diverse city that Leeds is in 2019.”

Matthew Sims, head of arts, events and venues at Leeds City Council added:

“It’s been 150 years since the first roof was first installed. And if it was another 150 years before work needed to be done again the world will be a very different place. So, as a fun way to engage young people with the on-going development of this great building and help future historians in their work to understand the past we invited this brilliant group of young people from across Leeds to capture this moment in time for us.”