The Great Hall, University of Leeds

West Yorkshire, United Kingdom | C.1894

Photo Credit: Sam Farley

Though the interior of the historic Great Hall of the University of Leeds is important in its own right, it’s the characteristic exterior of this building that distinguishes the school as a member of a prestigious group. The school is one of nine science and technology universities known by the moniker, “red brick university.”

Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the Great Hall employs a Victorian Gothic Revival style and a distinct red brick facade. Waterhouse also designed the University of Liverpool, which is purportedly the first university to use red brick. In addition to Leeds and Liverpool, England’s red brick universities include the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Sheffield. Collectively, these early 20th century schools came to be known as the “red brick universities.”

They were unique in more ways than one. Located in the UK’s major industrial cities, these schools admitted men despite religion or background and focused on “real world” skills, usually in the sciences and medicine.

Leeds was established in 1874 as a public research university, and was originally named the Yorkshire College of Science. Following a merger with the Leeds School of Medicine, it was granted its current title through a charter from King Edward VII 30 years later. Today, Leeds has 33,000 students and is the fifth largest university in the United Kingdom.

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