Back to Goddard: a pop-up exhibition at 31 Granby Street

The architect Joseph Goddard (1840-1900), designed many of Leicester’s Victorian landmarks, including the Clock Tower (incidentally celebrating it’s 150th anniversary this year), but arguably his masterpiece was the Gothic-revival Midland Bank (latterly HSBC and originally built on behalf of the Leicestershire Bank) on Granby Street; a Grade II* listed building constructed between 1872-74.

The building ceased functioning as a bank some years ago. After lying empty and at risk for several years, it was donated to ISKCON – the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which had lost its Leicester HQ in a gas explosion in 2010 (thankfully no one was injured), towards the end of 2011.

The building is now used as a Hare Krishna temple and community hub. ISKCON has undertaken to restore and preserve the building. An HLF grant was secured in 2016, to repair and restore the stained glass windows.

However, the building remains at risk. Indeed, Historic England has, since 2010, listed it as ‘at risk’. The Friends of Goddard roof appeal has been launched to raise the £100,000 needed to secure the building. It is feared that without this investment, the roof may not survive another winter. I would urge everyone who can – Leicesterarians, Victorian architecture fans, former bank customers and employees,* built heritage enthusiasts, etc., – to donate to the appeal. Every little helps!

So, onto the exhibition, which comprises a number of plan books, drawings and paperwork associated with Joseph Goddard, donated last year to ISKCON by Goddard’s great grandsons.

It’s not so much an exhibition as a display of books and other documentary material, but is nevertheless fascinating and provides an excellent excuse for whiling away half an hour or so. A must for architectural historians and fans of architectural drawing. Leicester people will spot a few local landmarks as well, including the Thomas Cook Building on Gallowtree Gate and the General News Room on the corner of Granby Street and Belvoir Street.

More about the appeal and link to the donation page can be found of the Friends of Goddard website.

Hurry – the exhibition is only on until Sunday 15th April!

*During my visit this afternoon, I was told that at one time the bank employed 500 (500!) people and around half the people who had visited the exhibition so far were former bank employees or customers.

All images by the author.

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