Tower Buildings, Upper Albion St., Leeds LS1
Tower Buildings, Albion St.(Yorkshire School of Cookery and Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education offices)

Another site to have disappeared under glass and concrete, the Tower Buildings on Woodhouse Lane were the premises of the Leeds branch of the Yorkshire School of Cookery (1874-1908) and also the offices of the Yorkshire Ladies’ Council of Education, both of which involved members of the Heaton family and are mentioned in the journals. 

The School of Cookery gave its first classes in February 1874 in the old bankruptcy court on Cookridge Street, also occupied by the Yorkshire College of Science.  Unfortunately these premises were destroyed by fire some months later, at which point they moved to the Tower Buildings at the junction between Albion Street and Woodhouse Lane.  The society aimed to provide instruction in cookery with the aim of removing the ‘reproach current against English cookery’, and of instructing working class women in this essential art.  The 1876 report lists Ellen Heaton as one of the committee members.  The School was another fore-runner of Leeds Beckett University.

From 1875, the Yorkshire Ladies’ Council of Education established its offices at the School.  This marked the start of its independent existence, having previously been the Ladies’ Honorary Committee of the Yorkshire Board of Education.  This organisation campaigned to improve the education of girls of all classes.  It was involved in the campaign for opening the university local examinations to girls, and alongside the Leeds Ladies Educational Association founded the Leeds Girls’ High School (now part of the Grammar School).

Fanny Heaton served on the committee of the YLCE as one of the honorary secretaries and Ellen was the secretary of the Health Committee.  One of Dr Heaton’s daughters, May Rücker, is listed on the board of the Educational Association in 1877.  Sadly May died on 12 Aug. 1878, shortly after giving birth to the Heatons’ first grandchild.  She is buried at Lawnswood cemetery.

Heaton mentions a lunch of the YLCE in May 1875 given by the Cookery school students.  He records that ‘Fanny determined that she would be present at this entertainment’, despite being something of an invalid at this time.  Heaton’s misgivings were proved accurate when Fanny took ill during the meal, though fortunately she recovered. (Journal, iv. 5 May 1875).