Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Historic Mansion opens its doors to the public

Caption: The main staircase has been restored in grand style

Caption: The newly-restored Mansion Room

Caption: This stunning chandelier overlooks the central staircase

Caption: Local children enjoy ice-cream at the opening with Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter (centre) and Heritage Lottery Fund Casework Manager for Yorkshire and The Humber Nick Rochford (further right)

The historic and Grade 2 listed Mansion at Roundhay Park threw its doors open to the public this week following a multi-million pound refurbishment programme to restore it to its former splendour.

For the first time in six years, people will now be able to visit the newly-restored Mansion and enjoy the new café restaurant and grab and go deli, run by Dine, who now manage the venue. People will also be able to marry there for the first time ever, establishing it as one of the finest wedding venues in the whole of Yorkshire.

The public opening of The Mansion is the final piece in the £8m restoration of Roundhay Park which has been carried out by Leeds City Council with major funding of £6.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It comes on the back of the opening last year of the Visitor and Education Centre and shop. And in celebration of all the historic Children’s Day events held in Roundhay Park during the last century, local children will be the first customers to be welcomed in to The Mansion with a special jelly and ice-cream treat.

Councillor John Procter, Leeds City Council executive member with responsibility for leisure said:

“This building has been here for almost 200 years. Six years ago it was in a very serious state of disrepair and there were very real concerns for its future. Now, thanks to the partnership between the council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and our business partner, Dine, The Mansion has been thrown a lifeline. The building is now fully occupied, open to the public and restored to its former glory as a grand and historic building here for future generations to enjoy.”

Daniel Gill, Managing Director of Dine, said:

“We are delighted that Leeds City Council has entrusted Dine with the restoration and management of this wonderful building. We have sought to deliver a venue of truly national standing and we look forward to welcoming private clients and public to enjoy its outstanding facilities. “

Fiona Spiers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and the Humber, said:

“The Mansion at Roundhay Park is an integral part not only Leeds’ heritage, but that of the region. It will be wonderful to see the transformation and restoration of the house compliment the rolling parkland, lakes, woodlands and gardens that surround it, and be enjoyed into the future by the local community and visitors alike.”

Notes to Editors:

The Mansion is an impressive regency country house, situated in 700 acres of woodland and water gardens at Roundhay Park, Leeds. The house was built in 1811 after architect John Clarke was commissioned to design it by the then owner of Roundhay Park, Thomas Nicholson.

The building and park were then acquired for the people of Leeds in 1871 by Mayor John Barran and The Mansion established local and national renown as a café restaurant, carvery and party venue and acknowledged as one of the very best historic city venues in the country.

The house was managed for over 120 years by the Gilpin family, the most famous of whom was Craven Gilpin. He pioneered professional outside catering from The Mansion and his reputation was such that King George V requested to meet him after a royal banquet at Leeds Town Hall in 1933.

After the Gilpin family relinquished their tenancy in 2003, Leeds City Council undertook a major assessment of the state of the house which found it to be in a serious state of disrepair, in need of major refurbishment, maintenance and repair.

In 2003, Leeds City Council with significant funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund began a major £8million restoration scheme for the whole of Roundhay Park which included a multi-million pound restoration scheme for The Mansion. One of the principal aims of both the park and Mansion restoration was to make them both more family friendly and place the park as one of the foremost family attractions in Leeds and the wider region. The council’s refurbishment programme to the fabric of The Mansion was completed in 2007 and in January 2009 Dine began a programme to restore the building’s interior.

This work involved the total renovation of all interior rooms and spaces including painstaking repair of original detail features such as decorative plaster cornices, architraves, wall panelling and beech wood dance floors. Restored features include the magnificent sweeping staircase with original stone steps, decorative wrought iron work and carved mahogany banister, the centrepiece of The Mansion, and a fairytale backdrop for wedding party celebrations.

The Mansion is now specified to the highest standards required of a modern event venue. This includes the sound proofing insulation of principal event rooms and installation of CCTV and swipe card access security throughout the building.

Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 28,800 projects, allocating over £4.3billion across the UK, including over £358 million in Yorkshire & The Humber alone. Website:


For media enquiries please contact:
Sara Hyman, Leeds City Council press office(0113) 224 3602

Olympic star Rebecca in action in Leeds

Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington and new World Champion Liam Tancock will be appearing in Leeds this week as they take part in the British Gas Swimming Grand Prix.

Mansfield star Adlington, who made history at the Beijing Games by becoming the first British swimmer to claim Olympic gold for 20 years, will be in action at the event to be held at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport from Thursday to Sunday (August 6-9).

The 20-year-old will be competing in the Women’s 400 metre and 800m Freestyle in the event, which features many of the leading British performers as well as a team of visiting Canadian swimmers.

Also sure to grab the attention is newly-crowned World Champion Liam Tancock, who lowered his own world record in Rome last weekend as he powered to an impressive victory in the Men’s 50m Backstroke.

Two silver medallists from Rome will also be in action: Britain’s Fran Halsall who switches from the Women’s 100m Freestyle to 200m Individual Medley in Leeds and Canadian Annamay Pierse who will looking for victory in the 200m Breaststroke.

Other leading names taking part in the short-course (25m) event are Canada’s freestyle star Ryan Cochrane, who claimed bronze medals at both the Beijing Olympics and last week’s World Championships, and Britain’s Hannah Miley who just missed out on a medal in Rome and is the current European Record holder in the 400m Individual Medley.

The event is open to the public, with admission priced at £7 per day for adults and £5 for concessions on a first-come first-served basis. Heats start each day from 10am, with finals taking place from 7pm each night.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Rebecca Adlington, Liam Tancock and all of these fantastic swimmers to Leeds, with a special welcome also to our visitors from Canada.

“We hope they all relish competing in our fantastic Aquatics Centre, and we look forward to some exciting races for everyone to enjoy.”

The Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds has already attracted interest from countries around the world to use ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games, with athletes from Holland and Serbia already confirmed to use the centre as their training base in the build-up.

For more information about the British Gas Swimming Grand Prix or to arrange possible interviews please contact the British Swimming Media Manager Dave Richards on 07789 926 136 or email


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Do you have a social conscience? Help Leeds narrow the gap

Local businesses and organisations are being urged to help narrow the gap between Leeds’ most affluent and poorer neighbourhoods through a unique social responsibility programme.

The Community Charter for Suppliers - set-up by Leeds City Council, Leeds Ahead and the Leeds Community Foundation - gives advice to businesses and organisations about how they can make a difference in their community through a range of measures including financial support, helping people get back into employment, staff volunteering and donations to local causes.

**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********
West Yorkshire police and the Arena Group will be presented with Community Charter for Suppliers certificates by the leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Richard Brett, at SLATE’s premises at Tulip Street, Hunslet, LS10 2BQ, at 12.30pm on Thursday. Please contact Jon Crampton on 0113 3951577 to arrange attendance.
**********MEDIA OPPORTUNITY**********

When bidding for council contracts, companies are increasingly being asked to demonstrate what they are doing in terms of environmental practices and community support. Some contracts include benefit clauses as part of the tendering process which gives potential suppliers the chance to demonstrate their commitment to the people of Leeds.

One organisation which has benefited from the community charter is SLATE (the South Leeds Alternative Trading Enterprise) which has a council contract to help reduce landfill. It refurbishes furniture and white goods - such as fridges and freezers - from the council's refuse sites and sells them at reduced rates to families in inner south Leeds.

SLATE is a social enterprise which offers work opportunities to people with learning disabilities and its actions help boost its local community while reducing the council’s landfill. It receives help and support from West Yorkshire police and the Arena Group which have provided volunteers and equipment for SLATE to use.

Councillor Richard Brett, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“We are committed to narrowing the gap between the contrasting areas of the city and are keen to ensure that everybody who lives in Leeds benefits from its successes.

“One way we can do this is to encourage local organisations and our suppliers - many of which are based in the city and surrounding areas - to sign up to the community charter and start supporting the communities they are based in.

“The advantages of the scheme are highlighted by SLATE. It has received funding through Leeds Community Foundation and is benefiting from the support of West Yorkshire police and the Arena Group through the community charter. Its council contract means that everyone involved is benefiting from the initiative in many different ways.”

As a result of their work with SLATE and other organisations in the city, West Yorkshire police and the Arena Group - which work through Leeds Ahead and the Leeds Community Foundation - have been granted charter status and will be presented with certificates by the leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Richard Brett, on Thursday 6 August at SLATE’s premises in Hunslet.

West Yorkshire police encourages its staff in south Leeds to volunteer with organisations as a way of building positive relationships with the local community while the Arena Group, which is based in Wakefield and provides IT and electronic equipment to Leeds City Council, has donated 35 photocopiers, worth around £35,000, to local groups including SLATE, the Al Haqq Education Trust, Leeds Children’s Holiday Camp Association and the Hyde Park Drop In.

Chief Inspector Julie Sykes, of the City and Holbeck Division, said:
“Through the Policing Pledge, we’ve given our commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to the high standards of service they require from us and volunteering with local community groups is just one way that we’re building closer bonds with the people we serve to better understand their needs.”

Martin Wright, general manager of Arena’s IT division, said:
“We are a locally-based firm and have a strong corporate social responsibility policy based on providing help to local communities. We felt that the donation of this equipment was a great way for us to provide very practical help to local groups so that they can improve their communication and publicity material. This is one part of our ongoing commitment to the local area.”

Businesses and organisations which successfully sign up to the Community Charter for Suppliers and undertake community work in Leeds will receive an official certificate and have their name added to the ‘Roll of Honour’ on the Leeds by Example website.

For more information visit


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577