In 1888 a committee of dentists put forward a proposal to the council of the Leeds Medical School, seeking to establish a complete dental curriculum in connection with the medical department of the Yorkshire College.
However, progress was slow. George Brunton, a Leeds dentist and President of the British Dental Association in 1900, may be credited with initiating the final burst of activity which led to the decision to form the School of Dentistry.
In May 1904 the new Leeds dispensary building was formally opened by Dr Thomas Clifford Albutt, who in his speech expressed gratified surprise at the inclusion of a dental department. He said that it appeared to him that it might become a centre from which would arise a dental school which might take a very high place in the North of England.
One year later, the dental department in connection with the Leeds Public Dispensary was formally opened by the Lord Mayor of Leeds. TheLeeds section of the BDA contributed over £500 for instruments and equipment. The Leeds Mercury headline was 'Teeth extracted free'.
The coming together of four major factors, the interest of the Infirmary, the Medical School and support from Leeds dentists coinciding with the Dispensary's need for a new building enabled ideas to be turned into action, with respect to the birth There had been close links with the Medical School since inception of the dental department at the Leeds Public Dispensary. The question of affiliating the dental department to the University had been mooted as early as 1908. The administrative structures within the University enabled it to oversee the considerable growth in the school which occurred between the end of the First World War and 1928.
As the number of students, and the number of patients, increased, so facilities at the Dispensary became increasingly stretched. The problem of how to accommodate 40 students in space then housing 15 was now exercising the minds of the Dispensary Dental Department and the University.
Accommodation was offered in the Leeds General Infirmary. TheDental School was moved from the Dispensary and transferred to the Infirmary on 11 October 1920.
It soon became clear more space was needed and it was decided to build a new dental hospital on a site within the grounds of the Leeds General Infirmary. The Dental Board of the United Kingdom agreed, in February 1924, to make a grant of £5000 to the Leeds School. These grants were seen as inducements to universities to invest in dental education. The Infirmary promised a site valued at £8000, the dental staff promised £2000. The University allocated £22,000 and so carried the major expenditure of the building, in Blundell Street,which eventually cost £45,000 and opened in 1928.
In 1948, with the passing of the NHS Act, the dental hospital became part of the United Leeds Hospitals. The number of patients seen increased steadily, as did the number of students accepted in the school. The building was significantly extended in 1953.
With demand continuing to grow, plans for a brand new dental school and hospital were made public in the early 1970s and the transfer of the dental hospital into the new building on Clarendon Way occurred in the week beginning 3 July 1978 and the first patients were seen on 17 July 1978.
The Worsley Building, still the home of the Leeds Dental Institute today - was officially opened by HRH The Duke of Kent on 23 March 1979.
(Information in this section was taken from part of the 2004 Talmage Read Lecture on ‘One hundred years of dental education in Leeds’ given by JJ Murray CBE).