The Rotation Office

The Rotation Office (late 1700s – early 1800s)
New Market Street
This was a brick building in a narrow yard, named for the magistrates who attended here, in ‘rotation’, to hear cases that came within the jurisdiction of the borough – but which did not justify the need for a jury. They were able to issue warrants and examine those charged with felonies, assaults and misdemeanours. The building was also used to host public meetings to discuss pressing social issues, while the bottom floor was the original home of the private, subscription The Leeds Library. The Rotation Office was relocated in 1813 to the new Courthouse.

C1863. View onto Rotation Office Yard, located off Kirkgate, situated between Kirkgate and the central market. (c) Leeds Library Service,

The image above shows a later view of the Rotation Office Yard off Kirkgate; this location now sits in the middle of Vicar Lane, where today there is a crossing leading to New Market Street.

From The Leeds Guide, Including a Sketch of the Environs and Kirkstall Abbey (Edward Baines: 1806):

The Rotation Office is a brick building, situated in Kirkgate; it receives its name from the circumstance of the Magistrates attending here in rotation to hear and determine all matters which come under their cognizance as Magistrates of the borough, and which can be determined without the intervention of a jury; and also to grant warrants, and examine persons charged with felony, assaults, and misdemeanours, previous to their being committed for trail.

Map extract from A Birds-eye View of Leeds (Frank Pettingell & Brownlow Thompson, c.1880). Rotation Office is visible to the left of the Corn Exchange.

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