Goodbye to the Bunker

Every day I drive past it in the morning on the way to work, and for many years I worked in it – under a murky glass dome in stygian gloom – and now that it’s going I can’t say I am sorry.
Anyone familiar with Leeds or northern provincial journalism will know the Yorkshire Post building on Wellington Street home to some great regional journalists and one of Yorkshire greatest indictments of 1960s Brutalist architecture. It always seemed risible to me that it was officially opened by Prince Charles The Carbunclist.
The huge joint newsroom – housing the Post and the Evening Post - was often referred to as the “bunker” as it was surrounded by grey concrete with no windows. Later is was known as the aquarium after the management thought it would be a good idea to paint the interior walls aqua-marine – which just seemed to add to the gloom.
English Heritage said in February the building would not be listed owing to the tight integration of the architecture with the building’s use for printing, and the loss of that use diminished “its ability to demonstrate its original function” and had “impacted on the integrity of the building”.
Yesterday it was announced the building in could be bulldozed, after a demolition order was submitted to Leeds City Council.
It was never a beautiful building compared with the old premises in Leeds city centre on Albion Street but it still contains many happy memories for me, especially through old colleagues. Nowhere else have I experienced the buzz I’ve had from a job other than as a journalist but even then back in the late 1990s we knew we were witnessing the last huzzah of good, quality journalism where the work of the reporters, sub-editors, production editors and snappers were still recognised by management.
Serious journalism was still cherished then before the swathe of takeovers and mergers turned regional newspaper journalism in to a homogenous mash of bland and tepid news reporting.
The building on Wellington Street, which used to house 1,300 people, is now empty with bug For Sale signs plastered all over it – which is a neat testament to the decline of regional journalism.
The Yorkshire Post is still there – stoutly supported by a loyal team of journalist determined to do their best during a time of cuts and redundancies. I wish them luck.

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