Collection WYSA - West Yorkshire Society of Architects Library

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West Yorkshire Society of Architects Library


  • 1715 - 1966 (Creation)

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Over 10 metres of books, journals and pamphlets.

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Name of creator


Administrative history

The Leeds Architectural Society was established in 1876, with architect George Corson as its first President. The Society amended its name to The Leeds and Yorkshire Architectural Society in 1883 being formally affiliated to the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1891 and later in 1928 changed its name to the West Yorkshire Society of Architects. Members of the Society were instrumental in the formation of a Leeds School of Architecture in 1902.

Archival history

In 1901 the Leeds architect T. Butler-Wilson, at that time President of the Leeds and Yorkshire Architectural Society, had tried to instigate the formation of a School of Architecture at the Yorkshire College but this had failed due to lack of funds. In 1902 an ad hoc ‘school’ was established, based around the existing classes held at the Yorkshire College and Leeds Mechanics Institute’s Leeds School of Art. The ‘school’ was formed under the aegis of the Leeds Education Committee and patronage of the Leeds and Yorkshire Architectural Society. Meanwhile the Yorkshire College became the University of Leeds in 1904. The Leeds School of Art moved to the purpose built Vernon Street buildings in 1903. The Leeds School of Architecture progressed further as a department of the Leeds College of Art from 1906-7 when Leeds Corporation took over control of the Art College.

The books of the Leeds and Yorkshire Architectural Society were originally housed in Leeds Public Reference Library from 1904 until 1930 when they were re-housed in the Society’s building on Woodhouse Lane. During the 1950s the Librarian for both the School of Architecture and WYSA collections was W. H. Plommer. He compiled a useful annotated catalogue of the School’s books in 1952 subsequently he produced a WYSA catalogue in their 1953-4 Session Green Book.

The School of Architecture Library was described in the 1950 prospectus as holding the “leading schools of architectural thought of the last hundred years” and “containing valuable pattern books, manuals and published designs of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries”. At that time the Library was located in the Woodhouse Lane building. In 1961 the West Yorkshire Society of Architects, successor to the Leeds and Yorkshire Architectural Society, donated their Library on permanent loan to the Leeds School of Architecture and the two collections were housed together. In the 1960s the collections moved with the Faculties to the Brunswick Terrace Campus (which was demolished in 2009). In 2000 the collections moved once more to the Leslie Silver Building when the City Campus Library was opened. Together the two collections form a significant and invaluable research resource for the study of architecture.

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Initially, only a small number of books have been fully catalogued, to give an indication of the range of books available. The long-term plan is to catalogue the entire collection using the following standards on the Library Catalogue according to AACR2 and using MARC21, classified by DDC23 and subject index using Library of Congress Subject Headings.

A PDF file of almost all the books in the WYSA Library is available here

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Dates of creation revision deletion

November 2016




Archivist's note

Compiled by Keith Rowntree

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