Leeds facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
"Pro rege et lege"
(Latin: "For king and the law")
Leeds shown within West Yorkshire
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||Yorkshire and the Humber|
|Ceremonial county||West Yorkshire|
|Administrative HQ||Leeds Civic Hall,
|• Type||Metropolitan borough|
|• Body||Leeds City Council|
|• City||213.0 sq mi (551.7 km2)|
|• Urban||188.3 sq mi (487.8 km2)|
|Highest elevation||1,115 ft (340 m)|
|Lowest elevation||33 ft (10 m)|
|• Rank||[[List of English districts by population|]]|
|• Urban||1,777,934 (4th)|
|• Urban density||9,440/sq mi (3,645/km2)|
|• Metro||2,302,000 (4th)|
|Time zone||UTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (British Summer Time)|
WF, BD (parts)
|Dialling codes||0113 (Leeds)
|ISO 3166 code||GB-LDS|
|NUTS 3 code||UKE42|
|Major railway stations||Leeds (A)|
|International airports||Leeds Bradford (LBA)|
|GDP||US$ 76.84 billion|
|– Per capita||US$ 33,355|
|GVA (2013)||£20.3bn (4th) 10.8%|
|– Per capita||£26,741 (4th) 10.8%|
|European Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
Leeds is a city in West Yorkshire, England. Historically in Yorkshire's West Riding, the history of Leeds can be traced to the 5th century when the name referred to a wooded area of the Kingdom of Elmet. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small manorial borough in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool.
During the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a major mill town; wool was the dominant industry but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing, and other industries were important. From being a compact market town in the valley of the River Aire in the 16th century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century. The main built-up area sub-division has a population of 474,632 (2011), and the City of Leeds metropolitan borough, of which it is a part, has a population of around 757,700 (2011) making it the third largest city in the United Kingdom.
Today, Leeds has the most diverse economy of the all the UK's main employment centres and has seen the fastest rate of private sector jobs growth of any UK city and has the highest ratio of public to private sector jobs of all the UK's Core Cities. The city has the third largest jobs total by local authority area with 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015. Leeds is also ranked as a gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network; and is considered the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by four universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and has the country's fourth largest urban economy.
After London, Leeds is the largest legal and financial centre in the UK, and in 2011 its financial and insurance services industry was worth £2.1 billion. with over 30 national and international banks located in the city. Leeds is also the UK's third largest manufacturing centre with around 1,800 firms and 39,000 employees, Leeds manufacturing firms account for 8.8% of total employment in the city. The largest sub-sectors are engineering, printing and publishing, food and drink, chemicals and medical technology.
Outside of London, Leeds has the third busiest railway station and 9th busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers in England. Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds and there are a number of twinning arrangements with towns and cities in other countries. Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city's importance to regional economic development, and the second phase of High Speed 2 plans to connect Leeds to London via East Midlands Hub and Sheffield Meadowhall.
- Twin towns and sister cities
- Images for kids
The name Leeds derives from the old Brythonic word Ladenses meaning "people of the fast-flowing river", in reference to the River Aire which still flows through the city. This name originally referred to the forested area covering most of the Brythonic kingdom of Elmet, which existed during the 5th century into the early 7th century.
Bede states in the fourteenth chapter of his Ecclesiastical History, in a discussion of an altar surviving from a church erected by Edwin of Northumbria, that it is located in ...regione quae vocatur Loidis (Latin, "the region which is called Loidis"). An inhabitant of Leeds is locally known as a Loiner, a word of uncertain origin. The term Leodensian is also used, from the city's Latin name.
Leeds developed as a market town in the Middle Ages as part of the local agricultural economy. Before the Industrial Revolution it became a co-ordination centre for the manufacture of woollen cloth and white broadcloth was traded at its White Cloth Hall.
Leeds handled one sixth of England's export trade in 1770. Growth, initially in textiles, was accelerated by the building of the Aire and Calder Navigation in 1699 and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1816.
The railway network constructed around Leeds, starting with the Leeds and Selby Railway in 1834, provided improved communications with national markets and, significantly for its development, an east-west connection with Manchester and the ports of Liverpool and Hull giving improved access to international markets. Alongside technological advances and industrial expansion, Leeds retained an interest in trading in agricultural commodities, with the Corn Exchange opening in 1864.
Marshall's Mill was one of the first of many factories constructed in Leeds from around 1790 when the most significant were woollen finishing and flax mills. Manufacturing diversified by 1914 to printing, engineering, chemicals and clothing manufacture. Decline in manufacturing during the 1930s was temporarily reversed by a switch to producing military uniforms and munitions during World War II. However, by the 1970s the clothing industry was in irreversible decline, facing cheap foreign competition. The contemporary economy has been shaped by Leeds City Council's vision of building a '24 hour European city' and 'capital of the north'. The city has developed from the decay of the post-industrial era to become a telephone banking centre, connected to the electronic infrastructure of the modern global economy. There has been growth in the corporate and legal sectors and increased local affluence has led to an expanding retail sector, including the luxury goods market. In a 2010 index for sustainable cities, the city placed 6th for the second year running.
Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone was launched in April 2012 to promote development in four sites along the A63 East Leeds Link Road.
|*no census was held due to war|
|source: UK census|
Leeds was a manor and township in the large ancient parish of Leeds St Peter, in the Skyrack wapentake of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The Borough of Leeds was created in 1207, when Maurice Paynel, lord of the manor, granted a charter to a small area of the manor, close to the river crossing, in what is now the city centre. Four centuries later, the inhabitants petitioned Charles I for a charter of incorporation, which was granted in 1626. The new charter incorporated the entire parish, including all eleven townships, as the Borough of Leeds and withdrew the earlier charter. Improvement commissioners were set up in 1755 for paving, lighting, and cleansing of the main streets, including Briggate and further powers were added in 1790 to improve the water supply.
The borough corporation was reformed under the provisions of Municipal Corporations Act 1835. Leeds Borough Police force was formed in 1836 and Leeds Town Hall was completed by the corporation in 1858. In 1866 Leeds, and each of the other townships in the borough, became a civil parish. The borough became a county borough in 1889, giving it independence from the newly formed West Riding County Council and it gained city status in 1893. In 1904 the Leeds parish absorbed Beeston, Chapel Allerton, Farnley, Headingley cum Burley and Potternewton from within the borough. In the twentieth century the county borough initiated a series of significant territorial expansions, growing from 21,593 acres (87.38 km2) in 1911 to 40,612 acres (164.35 km2) in 1961. In 1912 the parish and county borough of Leeds absorbed Leeds Rural District, consisting of the parishes of Roundhay and Seacroft; and Shadwell, which had been part of Wetherby Rural District. On 1 April 1925 the parish of Leeds was expanded to cover the whole borough.
The county borough was abolished on 1 April 1974 and its former area was combined with that of the municipal boroughs of Morley and Pudsey; the urban districts of Aireborough, Horsforth, Otley, Garforth and Rothwell; and parts of the rural districts of Tadcaster, Wetherby and Wharfedale. This area formed a metropolitan district in the county of West Yorkshire. It gained both borough and city status and is known as the City of Leeds. Initially, local government services were provided by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire County Council. When the county council was abolished in 1986 the city council absorbed its functions and some powers passed to organisations such as the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority. From 1988 two run-down and derelict areas close to the city centre were designated for regeneration and became the responsibility of Leeds Development Corporation, outside the planning remit of the city council. Planning powers were restored to the local authority in 1995 when the development corporation was wound up.
In 1801, 42% of the population of Leeds lived outside the township, in the wider borough. Cholera outbreaks in 1832 and 1849 caused the authorities to address the problems of drainage, sanitation and water supply. Water was pumped from the River Wharfe, but by 1860 it was too heavily polluted to be usable. Following the Leeds Waterworks Act of 1867 three reservoirs were built at Lindley Wood, Swinsty and Fewston in the Washburn Valley north of Leeds.
Residential growth occurred in Holbeck and Hunslet from 1801 to 1851, but, as these townships became industrialised new areas were favoured for middle class housing. Land south of the river was developed primarily for industry and secondarily for back-to-back workers' dwellings. The Leeds Improvement Act 1866 sought to improve the quality of working class housing by restricting the number of homes that could be built in a single terrace.
Holbeck and Leeds formed a continuous built-up area by 1858, with Hunslet nearly meeting them. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, population growth in Hunslet, Armley and Wortley outstripped that of Leeds. When pollution became a problem, the wealthier residents left the industrial conurbation to live in Headingley, Potternewton and Chapel Allerton which led to a 50% increase in the population of Headingley and Burley from 1851 to 1861. The middle class flight from the industrial areas led to development beyond the borough at Roundhay and Adel. The introduction of the electric tramway led to intensification of development in Headingley and Potternewton and expansion outside the borough into Roundhay.
Two private gas supply companies were taken over by the corporation in 1870 and the municipal supply provided street lighting and cheaper gas to homes. From the early 1880s the Yorkshire House-to-House Electricity Company supplied electricity to Leeds until it was purchased by Leeds Corporation and became a municipal supply.
Slum clearance and rebuilding began in Leeds during the Inter-war period when over 18,000 houses were built by the council on 24 estates in Cross Gates, Middleton, Gipton, Belle Isle and Halton Moor. The slums of Quarry Hill were replaced by the innovative Quarry Hill flats, which were demolished in 1975. Another 36,000 houses were built by private sector builders, creating suburbs in Gledhow, Moortown, Alwoodley, Roundhay, Colton, Whitkirk, Oakwood, Weetwood and Adel. After 1949 a further 30,000 sub-standard houses were demolished by the council and replaced by 151 medium-rise and high-rise blocks of council flats in estates at Seacroft, Armley Heights, Tinshill and Brackenwood.
Leeds has seen great expenditure on regenerating the city, attracting in investments and flagship projects, as found in Leeds city centre. Many developments boasting luxurious penthouse apartments have been built close to the city centre.
At central London, Leeds is located on the valley of the River Aire in the eastern foothills of the Pennines. The city centre lies in a narrow section of the Aire Valley at about 206 feet (63 m) above sea level while the district ranges from 1,115 feet (340 m) in the far west on the slopes of Ilkley Moor to about 33 feet (10 m) where the rivers Aire and Wharfe cross the eastern boundary. The centre of Leeds is part of a continuously built-up area extending to Pudsey, Bramley, Horsforth, Alwoodley, Seacroft, Middleton and Morley.(53.799°, −1.549°), and 190 miles (310 km) north-northwest of
Leeds has the second highest population of any local authority district in the UK (after Birmingham), and the second greatest area of any English metropolitan district (after Doncaster), extending 15 miles (24 km) from east to west, and 13 miles (21 km) from north to south. The northern boundary follows the River Wharfe for several miles but crosses the river to include the part of Otley which lies north of the river.
Over 65% of the Leeds district is green belt land and the city centre is less than twenty miles (32 km) from the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which has some of the most spectacular scenery and countryside in the UK. Inner and southern areas of Leeds lie on a layer of coal measure sandstones forming the Yorkshire Coalfield. To the north parts are built on older sandstone and gritstones and to the east it extends into the magnesian limestone belt. The land use in the central areas of Leeds is overwhelmingly urban.
Attempts to define the exact geographic meaning of Leeds lead to a variety of concepts of its extent, varying by context include the area of the city centre, the urban sprawl, the administrative boundaries, and the functional region.
Leeds is much more a generalised concept place name in inverted commas, it is the city, but it is also the commuter villages and the region as well.—Brian Thompson
Leeds city centre is contained within the Leeds Inner Ring Road, formed from parts of the A58 road, A61 road, A64 road, A643 road and the M621 motorway. Briggate, the principal north-south shopping street, is pedestrianised and Queen Victoria Street, a part of the Victoria Quarter, is enclosed under a glass roof. Millennium Square is a significant urban focal point. The Leeds postcode area covers most of the City of Leeds and is almost entirely made up of the Leeds post town. Otley, Wetherby, Tadcaster, Pudsey and Ilkley are separate post towns within the postcode area. Aside from the built up area of Leeds itself, there are a number of suburbs and exurbs within the district.
Leeds has a climate that is oceanic, greatly influenced by the Atlantic and the Pennines. Summers are usually mild, with moderate rainfall, while winters are chilly, cloudy with occasional snow and frost. Spring and autumn are mild but snow and frost are not unheard of in either season
July is the warmest month, with a mean temperature of 16 °C (61 °F), while the coldest month is January, with a mean temperature of 3 °C (37 °F). Temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) and below −10 °C (14 °F) are not very common but can happen occasionally. Temperatures at Leeds Bradford Airport fell to −12.6 °C (9.3 °F) in December 2010 and reached 31.8 °C (89 °F) at Leeds city centre in August 2003. The record temperature for Leeds is 34.4 °C (94 °F) during the early August 1990 heatwave.
As is typical for many sprawling cities in areas of varying topography, temperatures can change depending on location. Average July and August daytime highs exceed 25.0 °C (77.0 °F) (a value comparable to South East England) in a small area just to the south east of the city centre, where the elevation declines to under 20 metres (66 feet). This is 2 degrees milder than the typical summer temperature at Leeds Bradford airport weather station (shown in the chart below), at an elevation of 208 metres (682 feet).
Situated on the eastern side of the Pennines, Leeds is among the driest cities in the United Kingdom, with an annual rainfall of 660 mm (25.98 in).
Though extreme weather in Leeds is relatively rare, thunderstorms, blizzards, gale-force winds and even tornadoes have struck the city. The last reported tornado occurred on 14 September 2006, causing trees to uproot and signal failures at Leeds City railway station.
|Climate data for Leeds|
|Average high °C (°F)||5.5
|Average low °C (°F)||0.5
|Precipitation mm (inches)||109.8
|Avg. precipitation days||15.4||12.3||13.4||11.2||11.2||11.1||10.3||11.8||11.2||14.4||15.3||14.8||152.4|
the West Yorkshire urban area
|Source: Office for National Statistics|
At the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001, the Leeds urban subdivision occupied an area of 109 square kilometres (42 sq mi) and had a population of 443,247; making it the fourth most populous urban subdivision within England and the fifth largest within the United Kingdom. The population density was 4,066 inhabitants per square kilometre (10,530/sq mi), slightly higher than the rest of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. It accounts for 20% of the area and 62% of the population of the City of Leeds. The population of the urban subdivision had a 100 to 93.1 female–male ratio. Of those over 16 years old, 39.4% were single (never married) and 35.4% married for the first time. The urban subdivision's 188,890 households included 35% one-person, 27.9% married couples living together, 8.8% were co-habiting couples, and 5.7% single parents with their children. Leeds is the largest component of the West Yorkshire Urban Area and is counted by Eurostat as part of the Leeds-Bradford Larger Urban Zone. The Leeds travel to work area in 2001 included all of the City of Leeds, a northern strip of the City of Bradford, the eastern part of Kirklees, and a section of southern North Yorkshire; it occupies 751 square kilometres (290 sq mi).
At the 2011 UK census, the district had a total population of 751,500, representing a 5% growth since the last census of 2001. Of the 301,614 households in Leeds in the 2001 census, 33.3% were married couples living together, 31.6% were one-person households, 9.0% were co-habiting couples and 9.8% were lone parents, following a similar trend to the rest of England. The population density was 1,967/km2 (5,090/sq mi) and for every 100 females, there were 93.5 males.
Leeds is a diverse city with over 75 ethnic groups, and with minority ethnic populations representing just under 11.6% of the total population. According to figures from the 2011 census, 85.0% of the population was White (81.1% White British, 0.9% White Irish, 0.1% Gypsy or Irish Traveller, 2.9% Other White), 2.7% of mixed race (1.2% White and Black Caribbean, 0.3% White and Black African, 0.7% White and Asian, 0.5% Other Mixed), 7.7% Asian (2.1% Indian, 3.0% Pakistani, 0.6% Bangladeshi, 0.8% Chinese, 1.2% Other Asian), 3.5% Black (2.0% African, 0.9% Caribbean, 0.6% Other Black), 0.5% Arab and 0.6% of other ethnic heritage.
The majority of people in Leeds identify themselves as Christian. The proportion of Muslims (3.0% of the population) is average for the country. Leeds has the third-largest Jewish community in the United Kingdom, after those of London and Manchester. The areas of Alwoodley and Moortown contain sizeable Jewish populations. 16.8% of Leeds residents in the 2001 census declared themselves as having "no religion", which is broadly in line with the figure for the whole of the UK (also 8.1% "religion not stated"). The crime rate in Leeds is well above the national average, like many other English major cities. In July 2006, the think tank Reform calculated rates of crime for different offences and has related this to populations of major urban areas (defined as towns over 100,000 population). Leeds was 11th in this rating (excluding London boroughs, 23rd including London boroughs). Total recorded crime in Leeds fell by 45% between 2002/03 and 2011/12.
The table below details the population of the current area of the district since 1801, including the percentage change since the last available census data.
|Source: Vision of Britain|
In 2011, the Leeds USD had a population of 474,632.
|Leeds compared||Leeds USD||Leeds City|
In 2011, 26.1% of the population of the Leeds USD (Urban Subdivision) were non-white British, compared with 18.9% for the surrounding borough. This makes the Leeds USD about as multicultural as Salford in Greater Manchester.
Leeds displays a variety of natural and built landmarks. Natural landmarks include such diverse sites as the gritstone outcrop of Otley Chevin and the Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve. The city's parks at Roundhay and Temple Newsam have long been owned and maintained by the council for the benefit of ratepayers and among the open spaces in the centre of Leeds are Millennium Square, City Square, Park Square and Victoria Gardens. This last is the site of the central city war memorial: there are 42 other war memorials in the suburbs, towns and villages in the district.
The built environment embraces edifices of civic pride like Morley Town Hall and the trio of buildings in Leeds, Leeds Town Hall, Corn Exchange and Leeds City Museum by the architect Cuthbert Brodrick. The two startlingly white buildings on the Leeds skyline are the Parkinson building of Leeds University and the Civic Hall, with golden owls adorning the tops of its twin spires.
Armley Mills, Tower Works, with its campanile-inspired towers, and the Egyptian-style Temple Works hark back to the city's industrial past, while the site and ruins of Kirkstall Abbey display the beauty and grandeur of Cistercian architecture. Notable churches are Leeds Minster (formerly Leeds Parish Church), St George's Church and Leeds Cathedral, in the city centre, and the Church of St John the Baptist, Adel and Bardsey Parish Church in quieter locations. Notable non-conformist chapels include the Salem Chapel, dating back to 1791 and notably the birthplace of Leeds United Football Club in 1919.
The 112-metre (367 ft) tower of Bridgewater Place, also known as The Dalek, is part of a major office and residential development and the region's tallest building; it can be seen for miles around. Among other Skyscrapers the 37-storey Sky Plaza to the north of the city centre stands on higher ground so that its 106 metres (348 ft) is higher than Bridgewater Place.
Elland Road (football) and Headingley Stadium (cricket and rugby) are well known to sports enthusiasts and the White Rose Centre is a well-known retail outlet. Headingley Carnegie Stadium is also home to Leeds Rhinos rugby team.
Leeds is the starting-point of the A62, A63, A64, A65 and A660 roads, and is also situated on the A58 and A61. The M1 and M62 intersect to its south and the A1(M) passes to the east. Leeds is one of the principal hubs of the northern motorway network. Additionally, there is an urban motorway network; the radial M621 takes traffic into central Leeds from the M62 and M1. There is an Inner Ring Road with part motorway status and an Outer Ring Road. Part of the city centre is pedestrianised, and is encircled by the clockwise-only Loop Road.
Leeds has been identified as one of the most car-dependent cities in the UK. In one 2012 study of 31 European cities, Leeds-Bradford was rated as the seventh most grid-locked. Drivers spend an average of 80 hours in congestion. In 2010 ninety-six pedestrians were killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents in Leeds. Measurements taken on some main roads in Leeds have revealed pollution levels over twice the legal limits. The main reason for these problems is the fact that unlike other cities in the UK similar in size to Leeds, such as Manchester and Sheffield, Leeds does not have a rapid transport system (such as the Manchester Metrolink or Sheffield Supertram) and therefore commuters tend to either drive or use buses, which can be delayed when the roads are congested. There were ideas for a Leeds Supertram since the 1990s, and £500 million in funding was to be provided, however due to spiraling costs the plans were cancelled by the Transport Minister Alistair Darling in 2005, even though £40 million had already been spent on the project. Hopes were renewed with the proposal for a £250 million New Generation Transport Trolleybus service in 2007, however after a long wait and millions of pounds spent on inquiries, the plans were cancelled in May 2016 citing little value for money.
Public transport in the Leeds area is coordinated and developed by West Yorkshire Metro, with service information provided by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Metro. The primary means of public transport in Leeds are the bus services. The main provider is First Leeds and Arriva Yorkshire serves routes to the south of the city. Leeds City bus station is at Dyer Street and is used by bus services to towns and cities in Yorkshire, plus a small number of local services. Adjacent to it is the coach station for National Express coach services. Buses out of the city are mainly provided by First Leeds and Arriva Yorkshire. Harrogate Bus Company provides a service to Harrogate and Ripon. Keighley Bus Company provides a service to Shipley, Bingley and Keighley. The Yorkshire Coastliner service runs from Leeds to Bridlington, Filey, Scarborough and Whitby via York and Malton. Stagecoach provides a service to Hull via Goole.
From Leeds railway station at New Station Street, West Yorkshire Metro trains operated by Northern run to Leeds' suburbs and onwards to all parts of Leeds City Region. The station is one of the busiest in England outside London, with over 900 trains and 50,000 passengers passing through every day. It provides national and international connections as well as services to local and regional destinations. The station itself has 17 platforms, making it the largest in England outside London.
Leeds Bradford International Airport is located in Yeadon, about 10 miles (16 km) to the north-west of the city centre, and has both charter and scheduled flights to destinations within Europe plus Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, Turkey and the USA. There are connections to the rest of the world via London Heathrow Airport, Brussels Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. There is a direct rail service from Leeds to Manchester Airport; however, there isn't one to the nearby Leeds Bradford Airport. Humberside Airport is 70 miles (113 km) east of Leeds.
The city and metropolitan borough of Leeds is served by 16 railway stations and there are plans to open several more within the next 20 years.
The Leeds Country Way is a waymarked circular walk of 62 miles (100 km) through the rural outskirts of the city, never more than 7 miles (11 km) from City Square. The Meanwood Valley Trail leads from Woodhouse Moor along Meanwood Beck to Golden Acre Park. The Leeds extension of the Dales Way follows the Meanwood Valley Trail before it branches off to head towards Ilkley and Windermere. Leeds is on the northern section of the Trans Pennine Trail for walkers and cyclists, and the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal is another popular walking and cycling route. The White Rose Way walking trail to Scarborough begins at City Square. In addition, there are many parks and public footpaths in both the urban and rural parts of Leeds, and the Ramblers' Association, YHA and other walking organisations offer sociable walks. The Ramblers' Association publish various booklets of walks in and around Leeds.
Parks and open spaces
Leeds has many large parks and open spaces. Roundhay Park is the largest park in the city, and is one of the largest city parks in Europe. The park has more than 700 acres (2.8 km2) of parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens which are all owned by Leeds City Council. Other parks in the city include: Middleton Park, Temple Newsam, Woodhouse Moor, Meanwood Park, Beckett Park, Bramley Fall Park, Horforth Hall Park, Potternewton Park, Golden Acre Park, East End Park, Cross Flatts Park, and Western Flatts Park. There are many more smaller parks and open spaces scattered around the city, which makes Leeds one of the Greenest cities in the United Kingdom.
- See also: Culture of Leeds
Leeds has produced many of the UK's most notable artists and sculptors, including Kenneth Armitage, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Jacob Kramer, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth, and been the centre for a particularly radical strain of British art.
Although the city's municipal art gallery did not open until 1888, there is an earlier history of exhibitions in the city, most notably the series of 'Polytechnic Exhibitions' held regularly from 1839.
Before the First World War Leeds was the home of an unusual modernist arts organisation, called the Leeds Arts Club, founded by Alfred Orage, which lasted from 1903 to 1923. Notable members included Jacob Kramer, Herbert Read, Frank Rutter and Michael Sadler. As well as advocating a radical political agenda, supporting the Suffragettes, the Independent Labour Party and the Fabian Society, and promoting the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, the Leeds Arts Club was almost unique in Britain as being an exponent of German Expressionist ideas about art and culture. As a result, it staged very early British exhibitions of work by European expressionist artists, such as Wassily Kandinsky, showing their work in the city as early as 1913, and produced its own English Expressionist artists, including Jacob Kramer and Bruce Turner.
In the 1920s Leeds College of Art was the starting point for the careers of the sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, and in the 1950s, and 60s it was one of the leading centres for radical art education in Britain under the guidance of artists such as Harry Thubron and Tom Hudson, and the art historian Norbert Lynton. Their attempts to redefine what art education should mean in the post-Second World War period led the artist Patrick Heron to claim in 1971 in The Guardian newspaper that 'Leeds is the most influential art school in Europe since the Bauhaus'. This willingness to push at the boundaries of acceptable public behaviour from artists was also evident in 1966 when Leeds College of Art staged an exhibition of paintings by the Cypriot artist Stass Paraskos, who taught at the College, which was raided by the police after allegations of obscenity.
This radicalism continued into the 1970s when the higher education component of Leeds College of Art was split from the college to form the nucleus of the new multidisciplinary Leeds Polytechnic, now called Leeds Beckett University. Performance art had been taught earlier at Leeds College of Art, notably by the Fluxus artist Robin Page during his time as a tutor there in the mid-1960s, but in 1977 a performance art work hit the national news headlines when the students Pete Parkin and Derek Wain used an air pistol to shoot a line up of live budgerigars in front of an audience at Leeds Polytechnic.
The University of Leeds was the alma mater of Herbert Read, one of the leading international theorists of modern art from the mid-twentieth century, and also the teaching base for the Marxist art historian Arnold Hauser from 1951 to 1985. Partly due to Herbert Read's connection with the University, from 1950 to 1970 the University was the host of one of the first artist in residence schemes in Britain, using funding from the then owner of Lund Humphries books, Peter Gregory. The Gregory Fellowships, as the residencies were known, were given to painters and sculptors for up to two years to allow them to develop their own work and influence the University in any way they saw fit. Amongst those holding the fellowships were Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Dennis Creffield and Terry Frost and others. Parallel Gregory Fellowships also existed in music and poetry at the University.
Leeds was also a centre for radical feminist art, with one of the first galleries in Britain dedicated to showing the work of women photographers, the Pavilion Gallery, opening in the city in 1983, and the University of Leeds School of Fine Art being a well-known centre for the development of feminist art history, under Griselda Pollock, during the 1980s, and 90s. Possibly as a result of the strength of feminist art in Leeds, in November 1984 an exhibition of ceramics by students and staff at Leeds Polytechnic was attacked by a group of feminist activists who destroyed eight sculptures on display which they deemed to be degrading to women. The University of Leeds's School of Fine Art also specialised in Art and Language conceptual art practice, under Terry Atkinson, again in the 1980s, and 90s.
A major sculpture research centre and gallery, the Henry Moore Institute, is located alongside Leeds Art Gallery in the city centre, and in 2013 a new contemporary art centre, called The Tetley, opened on the site of the former Tetley Brewery to the south of the city centre.
In March 2017, The Times voted Leeds as the number one cultural place to live in Britain. This was ahead of London, Birmingham, St Ives, Stratford-upon-Avon and Cheltenham. The citation notes that Leeds has Opera North, the Northern Ballet, the West Yorkshire Playhouse amongst may other attractions that ranked it at number one.
Carnivals and festivals
Leeds Carnival is Western Europe's oldest West Indian Carnival, and the UK's third largest after the Notting Hill and Nottingham Carnival. It attracts around 100,000 people over 2 days to the streets of Chapeltown and Harehills. There is a large procession that finishes at Potternewton Park, where there are stalls, entertainment and refreshments. The Leeds Festival, featuring some of the biggest names in rock and indie music, takes place every year in Bramham Park. The Leeds Asian Festival, formerly the Leeds Mela, is held in Roundhay Park. The Otley Folk Festival (patron: Nic Jones), Walking Festival, Carnival and Victorian Christmas Fayre are annual events. Light Night Leeds takes place each October, and many venues in the city are open to the public for Heritage Open Days in September. The Leeds International Pianoforte Competition, established in 1963 by Fanny Waterman and Marion Stein, has been held in the city every three years since 1963 and has launched the careers of many major concert pianists. The Leeds International Concert Season, which includes orchestral and choral concerts in Leeds Town Hall and other events, is the largest local authority music programme in the UK.
The Leeds International Film Festival is the largest film festival in England outside London and shows films from around the world. It incorporates the highly successful Leeds Young People's Film Festival, which features exciting and innovative films made both for and by children and young people. Garforth is host to the fortnight long festival The Garforth Arts Festival which has been an annual event since 2005. The Chapel Allerton Arts Festival is a week-long music and arts event starting in 1998 and held the week after August Bank Holiday each year. The Leeds Festival Fringe is a week long-music festival created in 2010 to showcase local talent in the week prior to Leeds Festival.
In October 1888 Louis Le Prince filmed moving picture sequences Roundhay Garden Scene and a Leeds Bridge street scene using his single-lens camera and Eastman's paper film. These were several years before the work of competing inventors such as Auguste and Louis Lumière and Thomas Edison. Today, Leeds International Film Festival's International Short Film Competition is named after Louis Le Prince. The 2015 documentary film The First Film, which aired at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, documents Le Prince's pioneering status.
Wordsworth Donisthorpe who was also from Leeds, filmed the second oldest surviving film. It is not known if he and Louis Le Prince ever met but they both had a strong connection to the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. Donisthorpe's patent for a camera to capture the moving image pre dated Le Prince's by twelve years.
Leeds has a rich film exhibition culture. In addition to the Leeds International Film Festival and Leeds Young Film Festival, the city hosts numerous independent cinemas and pop-up venues for film screenings. The Cottage Road Cinema and Hyde Park Picture House have continuously been showing films since 1912 and 1914 respectively, which ranks them among the oldest still running cinemas in the UK.
- See also: Category:Television shows set in Leeds and Category:Films set in Leeds
Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd, owned by Johnston Press plc, is based in the city, and produces a daily morning broadsheet, the Yorkshire Post, and an evening paper, the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP). The YEP has a website which includes a series of community pages which focus on specific areas of the city. The Wetherby News covers mainly areas within the north eastern sector of the district, and the Wharfedale & Airedale Observer, published in Ilkley, covers the north west, both appearing weekly. The two largest universities both have student newspapers, the weekly Leeds Student from the University of Leeds and the monthly The Met from Leeds Beckett University. The Leeds Guide was a fortnightly listings magazine, which was established in 1997 and ceased publication in 2012. Free publications include the Leeds Weekly News, produced by Yorkshire Post Newspapers in four geographic versions and distributed to households in the main urban area of the city, and the regional version of Metro which is distributed on buses and at railway stations.
Regional television and radio stations have bases in the city; BBC Television and ITV both have regional studios and broadcasting centres in Leeds. ITV Yorkshire, formerly Yorkshire Television, broadcasts from the Leeds Studios on Kirkstall Road. There are a number of independent film production companies, including the not-for-profit cooperative Leeds Animation Workshop, founded in 1978; community video producers Vera Media and several small commercial production companies. BBC Radio Leeds, Radio Aire, Magic 828, Capital Yorkshire, Real Radio and Yorkshire Radio broadcast from the city. LSRfm.com, is based in Leeds University Union, and regularly hosts outside broadcasts around the city. Many communities within Leeds now have their own local radio stations, such as East Leeds FM and Tempo FM for Wetherby and the surrounding areas.
Made in Leeds is a local television station which launched across the city in 2014. A privately owned television station: Leeds Television is run by volunteers and supported by professionals in the media industry.
A new Leeds City Museum opened in 2008 in Millennium Square. Abbey House Museum is housed in the former gatehouse of Kirkstall Abbey, and includes walk-through Victorian streets and galleries describing the history of the abbey, childhood, and Victorian Leeds. Armley Mills Industrial Museum is housed in what was once the world's largest woollen mill, and includes industrial machinery and railway locomotives. This museum also shows the first known moving pictures in the world which were taken in the city, by Louis Le Prince, of a Roundhay Garden Scene and of Leeds Bridge in 1888. These short film clips can be found on YouTube.
Thwaite Mills Watermill Museum is a fully restored 1820s water-powered mill on the River Aire to the east of the city centre. The Thackray Museum is a museum of the history of medicine, featuring topics such as Victorian public health, pre-anaesthesia surgery, and safety in childbirth. It is housed in a former workhouse next to St James's Hospital. The Royal Armouries Museum opened in 1996 in a dramatic modern building when this part of the national collection was transferred from the Tower of London. Nearby is the Leeds Museum Discovery Centre (formerly housed at the Leeds Museum Resource Centre in Yeadon) the major storage of items not currently on display in museums, and open to the public by appointment.
Leeds Art Gallery houses important collections of traditional and contemporary British art. It is closed for refurbishment until 13 October 2017. Smaller museums in Leeds include Otley Museum; Horsforth Village Museum; ULITA, an Archive of International Textiles; and the museum at Fulneck Moravian Settlement.
Music, theatre and dance
Leeds is home to the Grand Theatre where Opera North is based, this establishment seats 1,500 people and has recently undergone a £31.5m refurbishment. The City Varieties Music Hall, which hosted performances by Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini and was also the venue of the BBC television programme The Good Old Days, and West Yorkshire Playhouse. Just south of Leeds Bridge once stood The Theatre which hosted Sarah Siddons and Ching Lau Lauro in 1786 and 1834 respectively.
Leeds is also home to Phoenix Dance Theatre, who were formed in the Harehills area of the city in 1981, and Northern Ballet Theatre. In autumn 2010 the two companies moved into a purpose-built dance centre which is the largest space for dance outside London. It is also the only space for dance to house a national classical and a national contemporary dance company alongside each another.
The First Direct Arena opened in September 2013. The 13,500 seater stadium is rapidly becoming the city's number one venue for live music, indoor sports and many other events. Concerts are also held at the O2 Academy, Elland Road, which has hosted groups such as Queen and Kaiser Chiefs, among others and at the universities. Roundhay Park in north Leeds has seen some of the world's biggest artists including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Williams.
Popular musical acts originating from Leeds include Soft Cell, Kaiser Chiefs, The Pigeon Detectives, The Wedding Present, The Sunshine Underground, The Sisters of Mercy, Hadouken!, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Gang of Four, Hood, The Rhythm Sisters, Utah Saints, Alt-J and Melanie B of the Spice Girls.
Leeds has the fourth largest student population in the country (over 200,000), and is therefore one of the UK's hotspots for night-life. There are a large number of pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants, as well as a multitude of venues for live music. The full range of music tastes is catered for in Leeds. It includes the original home of the club nights Back 2 Basics and Speedqueen. Morley was the location of techno club The Orbit. Leeds has a number of large 'super-clubs' and there is a selection of independent clubs such as Club Mission and Mint Club, which is consistently ranked as one of the world's best clubs by DJ Magazine. Two other Leeds clubs, The Warehouse and The Garage featured in the Top 100 Clubs list from 2013.
Leeds has a well established gay nightlife scene. The Bridge Inn and The New Penny, both on Call Lane, have long been gay night spots.
Towards Millennium Square and the Civic or Northern Quarter, is a growing entertainment district providing for both students and weekend visitors. The square has many bars and restaurants and a large outdoor screen. Millennium Square is a venue for large seasonal events such as a Christmas market, gigs and concerts, citywide parties and the Rhythms of the City Festival. It is adjacent to the Mandela Gardens, which were opened by Nelson Mandela in 2001. A number of public art features, fountains, a canal and greenery can be found here as an oasis among the city centre excitement.
Yorkshire has a great history of real ale, but several bars near the railway station are fusing traditional beers with a modern bar. Popular bars such as this include The Hop, The Cross Keys and The Brewery Tap.
The majority of people in Leeds identify themselves as Christian. Leeds does not have a Church of England Cathedral: it is in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds (formerly in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds), headed by the Bishop of Leeds, which has cathedrals in Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield although the Bishop's residence has been in Leeds since 2008. The most important Anglican church is Leeds Minster, although St. George's has the largest congregation by far. Leeds has a Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds. Many other Christian denominations and new religious movements are established in Leeds, including Assemblies of God, Baptist, Christian Scientist, Latter-day Saints ("LDS" or "Mormon"), Community of Christ, Greek Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Army, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Nazarene, Newfrontiers, Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventist, Society of Friends ("Quakers"), Unitarian, United Reformed, Vineyard, Wesleyan, an ecumenical Chinese church, Winners' Chapel and several independent churches.
The proportion of Muslims in Leeds is average for the country. Mosques can be found throughout the city, serving Muslim communities in Chapeltown, Harehills, Hyde Park and parts of Beeston. The largest mosque is Leeds Grand Mosque in Hyde Park.
The Sikh community is represented by gurudwaras (temples) spread across the city, the largest being in Chapeltown. There is also a colourful religious annual procession, called the Nagar Kirtan, into Millennium Square in the city centre on 13–14 April to celebrate Vaisakhi – the Sikh New Year and the birth of the religion. It is estimated that around 3,000 Sikhs in Leeds take part in this annual event.
Leeds' Jewish community is the third-largest in the United Kingdom, after London and Greater Manchester. The areas of Alwoodley and Moortown contain sizeable Jewish populations. There are eight active synagogues in Leeds.
Various Buddhist traditions are represented in Leeds, including: Soka Gakkai, Theravada, Tibetan, Triratna Buddhist Community and Zen. The Buddhist community (sangha) comes together to celebrate the major festival of Wesak in May.
There is also a community of the Bahai Faith in Leeds.
Twin towns and sister cities
Leeds is twinned with:
- Brasov, Romania
- Brno, Czech Republic
- Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Dortmund, Germany
- Hangzhou, China
- Lille, France
- Louisville, United States
- Siegen, Germany
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