History of Oakwood Clock

The Face Of Oakwood ClockWhen the Oakwood farmers’ market started in March 2008, it was quite appropriate that it should do so under the gaze of the Oakwood Clock, since this distinctive north Leeds landmark actually began its own existence surrounded by market traders in Leeds city centre more than 100 years ago.

The clock was originally a central feature of the Kirkgate indoor market building which was  opened in 1904.  The clock was designed by the building’s architects, John and Joseph Leeming, and constructed by the famous Leeds clockmakers, William Potts and Sons.

An account of the building’s opening ceremony relates that “The clock had been set to chime when the hall opened at noon. The ceremony however was running late, and by the time everyone had taken their place on a dais opposite the clock tower, it was twenty past twelve. But the clock still struck twelve, much to everyone’s amusement.”

One of the shortcomings of the 1904 Kirkgate building design was the lack of an entrance from Vicar Lane.  This was eventually provided in 1912, but at the expense of the clock, which had to be removed to make space to resite some of the stalls.  It was then that the clock was relocated to its present site in Oakwood.

A photograph taken in 1914 shows the clock in its new location, close to an imposing entrance lodge (since demolished) which stood at the southern boundary of Roundhay Park.  Several other historic images of the clock can be found at Leodis, the Leeds photographic archive website, including a fascinating aerial view dating from 1937 which shows the tram route running past the west side of the clock, where the car park is now.

Renovated in 1977, the clock may again be starting to look in need of a little care and attention; but even so, once a month, when it is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the farmers’ market, it is not hard to imagine how magnificent it must have looked in its first home a century ago.

Thanks to Mark Shipway of Cutting Cake Patisserie for researching and writing this fascinating contribution.