Leicester has lots of beautiful and interesting buildings.
Among them is Joseph Goddard’s impressive bank on the corner of Granby Street and Bishop Street. With its stunning stained glass and high lantern beamed ceilings, this French Gothic Revival masterpiece was executed with modern styling when it took shape between 1870 and 1873. Designed for the Leicestershire Banking Company, its art nouveau windows, created by Joe in 1870, are a joy to the eye to any soul walking down Granby Street. The stone carvings were completed by the talented Samuel Barfield, who teamed up with Goddard to create the Clock Tower, which was unveiled in 1868.
Joe Goddard was a third generation architect, with the sixth line continuing today. Born in 1840, he was ingenious and an innovator. He became articled to his father Henry in 1856 and started practice in 1862. Creator of many of Leicester’s more favourable buildings – the Clock Tower, the Sun Alliance Building, Thomas Cook’s building on Gallowtree Gate, the church of St John the Baptist – his eye for design has left us quite a legacy.
Alas, the Grade II* building, which now acts as the temple for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, is badly in need of some restoration. As List Entry Number 1074047, it has been sitting on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register since 2010. They describe it as being in ‘poor’ condition and ‘slow decay’ with the roof being at risk of collapse. The religious society is looking to raise the £500,000 for the building’s repairs.
ISKON secured the purchase of the building for £350,000 (worth £1.5 million) in 2013.
The group, with fundraising and community grants, has now raised more than £120,000, which means work can begin on restoring the roof and installing new photovoltaic glass panels to generate clean energy for the building.
I was fortunate enough to come in and have a look around recently on a local history day, having met a friend for some lovely Kerala cuisine at Herb, just further down the street.
Truth be told, it’s an incredible place. Back in its day, it looked like this…