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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. Then, 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 which has an estimated population of 757,700 (2011).
Today, Leeds is 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 centre in the UK, and in 2011 its financial and insurance services industry was worth £2.1 billion, the 4th largest in the UK, with over 30 national and international banks located in the city. It is the leading UK city for telephone delivered banking and related financial services, with over 30 call centres employing around 20,000 people.
Outside of London, Leeds has the third busiest railway station and sixteenth 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.
|POPULATION :||• City & Metropolitan Borough 766,399 |
• Urban 1,777,934
• Metro 2,302,000
|FOUNDED :||Borough Charter 1207|
City status 1893
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+0)|
• Summer (DST) British Summer Time (UTC+1)
|RELIGION :||Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, other 1.6%, unspecified or none 23.1%|
|AREA :||• City & Metropolitan Borough 213 sq mi (551.72 km2)|
• Urban 188.3 sq mi (487.8 km2)
|ELEVATION :||33–1,115 ft (10–340 m)|
|COORDINATES :||53°47′59″N 1°32′57″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.3%|
• Female: 50.7%
|ETHNIC :||85.0% White ,2.7% of mixed race , 7.7% Asian , 3.5% Black,0.5% Arab and 0.6% of other ethnic heritage.|
|AREA CODE :||0113 (urban core)|
01924 (Wakefield nos)
01937 (Wetherby/ Boston Spa)
01943 (Guiseley/ Otley)
01977 (Pontefract nos)
|POSTAL CODE :||LS, part of WF and also part of BD.|
|DIALING CODE :|
Leeds is the largest city in the county of West Yorkshire. Once a major industrial centre, the city today is more well known for being the largest financial centre in the UK outside of London, as well as for its impressive shopping, nightlife, universities and sports facilities. Leeds also has a growing cultural reputation, being home to many museums, restaurants and theatres, and a mixture of Georgian, Victorian, 20th and 21st century architecture.
Although not considered a 'traditional' tourist destination, Leeds has plenty to occupy the visitor. As well as the main sights, museums, galleries, parks etc., wandering around the buzzing city centre to take in the atmosphere and admire the fantastic blend of architectural styles from the past few hundred years is a pleasure in itself.
The extensive retail area of Leeds is identified as the principal regional shopping centre for the whole of the Yorkshire and the Humber region and approximately 3.2 million people live within its catchment area. There are a number of indoor shopping centres in the centre of the city, including the Merrion Centre, St John's Centre, The Core, the Victoria Quarter, The Light, the Corn Exchange and Trinity Leeds.In total there are approximately 1,000 retail stores, with a combined floorspace of 2,264,100 square feet (210,340 m2).
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.
Tourist information centre
Visit Leeds and Art Gallery Shop, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AA.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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)||5.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||0.3|
At 53°47′59″N 1°32′57″W (53.799°, −1.549°), and 190 miles (310 km) north-northwest ofcentral 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.
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 has a diverse economy with employment in the service sector now far exceeding that in the traditional manufacturing industries. In 2002, 401,000 employees were registered in the Leeds district. Of these 24.7% were in public administration, education and health, 23.9% were in banking, finance and insurance and 21.4% were in distribution, hotels and restaurants. It is in the banking, finance and insurance sectors that Leeds differs most from the financial structure of the region and the nation. In 2011, the financial and services industry in Leeds was worth £2.1 billion, the 5th largest in the UK, behind London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham. Tertiary industries such as retail, call centres, offices and media have contributed to a high rate of economic growth. The city also hosts the only subsidiary office of the Bank of England in the UK. In 2012 GVA for the city was recorded at £18.8 billion, with the entire Leeds City Region generating an economy of £55 billion in 2012.
Between 2002 and 2012, the economy of Leeds grew at a slower rate than the UK as whole, 39% vs 44%, and in 2012 remained 2.6% off its pre-recession peak.
Leeds has over 30 national and international banks, many of whose northern or regional offices are based in the city. It is the headquarters for First Direct and is home to Yorkshire Bank and large Barclays, HSBC,Santander, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS Group operations.
The city is also an important centre for equity, venture and risk finance. Founded in Leeds, the venture capital provider, YFM Equity Partners, is now the UK's largest provider of risk capital to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Other major companies based in the city include William Hill, International Personal Finance, ASDA, Leeds Building Society and Northern Foods. Capita Group, KPMG,Direct Line, Aviva, Yorkshire Building Society, BT Group, Telefónica Europe(otherwise known as O2) and TD Waterhouse all also have a considerable presence in the city.
There are around 150 law firms operating in Leeds, employing over 6,700 people. According to The UK Legal 500, "Leeds has a sophisticated and highly competitive legal market, second only to London."
Specialist legal expertise to be found in Leeds includes corporate finance, corporate restructuring and insolvency, global project financing, trade and investment, commercial litigation, competition, construction, Private Finance Initiatives and Public Private Partnerships, tax, derivatives, IT, employment, pensions, intellectual property, sport and entertainment.
The establishment of an Administrative Court in Leeds in April 2009 reinforced Leeds' position as one of the UK's key legal centres. The court previously sat only in London.
Leeds is the UK's third largest manufacturing centre and 50% of the UK's manufacturing base is within a two-hour drive of Leeds. 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.
There is also an established creative industry in the city, particularly in the digital gaming sector. A number of large developers have studios in and around the city, including Activision, developers of the mobile versions of the Call of Duty series, and Rockstar Leeds, developers of the Grand Theft Auto series. Leeds is the only city outside London to have hosted the Eurogamer Expo, although Birmingham will be a host in 2014.
Office developments, also traditionally located in the inner area, have expanded south of the River Aire and total 11,000,000 square feet (1,000,000 m2) of space. In the period from 1999 to 2008 £2.5bn of property development was undertaken in central Leeds; of which £711m has been offices, £265m retail, £389m leisure and £794m housing. Manufacturing and distribution uses accounts for £26m of new property development in the period. There are 130,100 jobs in the city centre, accounting for 31% of all jobs in the wider district. In 2007, 47,500 jobs were in finance and business, 42,300 in public services, and 19,500 in retail and distribution. 43% of finance sector jobs in the district are contained in Leeds city centre and 44% of those employed in the city centre live more than nine kilometres (5.6 miles) away. Tourism is important to the Leeds economy, in 2009 Leeds was the 8th most visited city in England by UK visitors. and the 13th most visited city by overseas visitors. Research by VisitEngland reported that the day visitor market to Leeds attracts 24.9 million people each year, worth over £654 million to the local economy.
In January 2011, Leeds was named as one of five "cities to watch" in a report published by Centre for Cities. The report shows that the average resident in Leeds earns £471 per week, seventeenth nationally and 30.9% of Leeds residents had NVQ4+ high level qualifications, fifteenth nationally. Employment in Leeds was 68.8% in the period June 2012 to June 2013, which was lower than the national average, whilst unemployment was higher than the national average at 9.6% over the same time period. It also shows that Leeds will be the least affected major city by welfare cuts in 2014/2015, with welfare cuts of -£125 per capita predicted, compared to -£192 in Liverpool and -£175 in Glasgow. Leeds is overall less deprived than other large UK cities and average income is above regional averages.
- Central Leeds
- Civic quarter - north of the railway station, focussed on Millennium Square. Many museums and galleries can be found in this area as well as two major educational institutions.
- Central shopping district - north and north east of the railway station
- Exchange quarter - east of the railway station, centred on the Corn Exchange. Home to many quirky independents, bars and cafes.
- Gay Village - east of the railway station around Lower Briggate
- Financial district - north west of the railway station. The attractive Georgian Park Square is at the centre
- Riverside - south of the railway station. The converted granaries are now home to shops and restaurants, while new developments bring upmarket shopping to Leeds. The Royal Armouries museum can be found at Clarence Dock.
- Holbeck - south of the railway station. Once the industrial heart of Leeds, this district has been regenerated into a creative industries quarter with trendy bars spilling into cosy public spaces.
There are various places of interest, shops, restaurants, historic sites, etc. outside of the city centre and the above districts. These are listed geographically in the following guides:
- North East Leeds including Chapel Allerton, trendy north Leeds area bursting with al fresco bars and restaurants and Roundhay an attractive, leafy and well-heeled district of north Leeds, home to the vast and beautiful Roundhay Park, Tropical World, and a small selection of exclusive shops and eateries supplemented by those in nearby Oakwood.
- North West Leeds including Headingley the lively student and sports district
- West Leeds
- South Leeds
- East Leeds
Prices in Leeds
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.44|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€7.20|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€28.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€53.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€6.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€3.60|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€3.60|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€8.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€11.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.18|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€10.70|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€58.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€32.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€65.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€2.80|
56 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
220 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
- Leeds-Bradford International Airport. Leeds is very accessible by air. 10 miles north-west of the city centre. Budget airline Jet2 offer a wide range of flights to and from Leeds, its main base. There are connections to long-haul flights from London Heathrow on BA, and Amsterdam (at least 6 flights daily with Jet2 and KLM), or Paris CDG (Jet2). There are direct flights to numerous other Europe cities with RyanAir. The only long haul flight is to Islamabad in Pakistan.
There is a regular bus service (the 757) into the city (journey time 35 minutes) and cabs are plentiful.
Car parks serving Leeds Bradford Airport
|Address||On/Off Airport||Distance / Transfer Time||Security||Additional Information|
|Long Stay Car Park||Leeds Bradford International Airport,|
Leeds, LS19 7TU
|On||0.7 miles / 5 minutes||Round-the-clock CCTV coverage, security fencing, entry/exit barriers and security patrols.||Maximum vehicle height is 2.5 metres.|
|Sentinel Security Car Park||Warren House Lane,|
Yeadon, West Yorkshire, LS19 7FT
|Off||0.8 miles / 3 minutes||CCTV, 24-hour security guards, barbed-wire security fencing and floodlighting.||Trailers are permitted, but will be charged for an extra space.|
|LBA Car Watch Parking||Coney Park, Harrogate Road,|
Yeadon, Leeds, LS19 7XS
|Off||0.8 miles / 3 minutes||CCTV, floodlighting, security fencing and security patrols with guard dogs.||Trailers are permitted at no extra charge.|
- If you are coming from other continents, Manchester Airport is the nearest intercontinental airport, although you could opt to fly into Leeds via Amsterdam or Paris. The airport has a much larger choice of international flights. Trains run from Manchester Airport to Leeds half-hourly (hourly at night and early morning; no trains between approx 00:30 and 04:15). Journey time 1½ hrs.
The busy, modern railway station (occasionally called Leeds City Station), one of the biggest in the country with regular trains to a huge range of destinations all over the UK, is in the heart of the centre just off City Square.
- East Coast - serve London (Kings Cross) (2-2.5hr).
- First TransPennine Express - serve Dewsbury, Huddersfield (30 min),Stalybridge, Manchester (1hr), Hull, Manchester Airport (see above), Liverpool,York (20-30 min), Scarborough (90 min) and Newcastle (90 min).
- Northern Rail - serve Bradford, the scenic Settle-Carlisle route and intermediate stations to Manchester.
Leeds is possibly the best connected UK city by road, lying in the centre of the country, halfway between London and Edinburgh and halfway between Liverpool (west coast) and Hull (east coast). The M1 motorway runs from London via Milton Keynes, Leicester, Nottingham, and Sheffield and passes about 2 miles east of Leeds, to join the A1(M) at Wetherby. The M62 trans-Pennine motorway, which runs from the outskirts of Liverpool to a few miles from Hull, passes about 3 miles to the south of Leeds. The M621 motorway loop just to the south of the city centre, and connects with the M1 and M62. The Scott Hall Road scheme features a park and ride site to the north of Leeds, opened in the 1990s and caters for 157 cars. For much of the journey into Leeds, buses run on a guided busway beside (or down the middle of) the main road and are given priority over cars. (See National Park and Ride Directory.) WhizzGo, a national car 'club' (i.e. car hire organisation which charges a £50 annual membership fee) has a branch in Leeds, and offers pay-by-the-hour car hire across the city. Cars are accessible via a smart card and PIN.
The ferry can be caught from mainland Europe; Zeebrugge, Belgium or Rotterdam, The Netherlands to Kingston Upon Hull, which is approximately an hour from Leeds by car/train.
Transportation - Get Around
If you're just visiting the city centre, you might as well walk, as much of it is surprisingly compact with most of the major attractions and shops being within walking distance of one another. To orientate yourself, free maps [www] (quite simple but good for basic orientation) are available at the tourist information and a number of visitor attractions. There are some street maps dotted around the city centre, in guide books, street atlases, etc. Getting around central Leeds is fairly easy.
Public transport within Leeds is good - most major bus routes within the city are every 10 minutes or so. Information about busses can be obtained either from the Corn Exchange Bus Point, where the First Travel Centre is staffed from 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 4:30pm on Saturdays or from the Leeds City Bus Station whose Information Help Point has the same opening hours.
Metro (West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority) provides local bus and train information on its website, and offers the innovative My Next Bus service of real-time bus information gathered by satellite online or by text message. To find out when the next bus is due at your stop, text the 8 digit identity code of your bus stop (they all begin with 450) to 63876. To find the time of a particular bus, leave a space after the 8 digits and then add the number of your bus route. This real-time information is also displayed in certain bus shelters
For visitors wishing to explore Leeds city centre CityBus - loops around much of the city centre every 6–7 minutes between 6:30am and 7:30pm; one journey costs 50p, or you can use a bus pass. If using this service at busy times of day it's best to catch the bus at either the Bus Station or Rail Station; if a bus is full, it will not stop to take on more passengers and you could be waiting in excess of an hour. Please note that this bus is no longer free.
First runs most of the bus services within Leeds. If you are making more than a couple of short bus trips, the best option is to buy a "FirstDay" day ticket for £4.00 (M-F before 9:30am) or £3.20 (other times), which allows unlimited travel on First Bus routes within West Yorkshire all day.
Useful bus routes for visitors include the following:
- 1 - Holt Park (North West Leeds) - Headingley - Universities - City centre - Beeston (south Leeds)
- 2 - Roundhay Park - Moortown - Chapel Allerton - City Centre - Middleton (south Leeds)
- 3/3A - White Rose Shopping Centre (South Leeds) - City Centre - Chapel Allerton - Gledhow
- 4/4A - Whinmoor - Seacroft Shopping Centre - St James's University Hospital - City Centre - West Leeds - Pudsey.
- 12 & 13/13A - Middleton (south Leeds - City Centre - Harehills - Oakwood -Roundhay Park (12)/Gledhow (13/13A)
- 16/16A - Seacroft Shopping Centre - City Centre - Armley - Bramley - Rodley - Pudsey Bus Station
- 18/18A - Ireland Wood (north west Leeds) - Headingley (cricket ground) - City Centre - East Leeds - Selby Road - Garforth
- 28/28B - Adel - Headingley - Universities - City Centre - Clarence Dock
- 33/33A - City Centre - Kirkstall - Horsforth - Rawdon - Yeadon - Guiseley - Otley
- 37/37A - City Centre - East Leeds
- 40 Seacroft Shopping Centre - Cross Gates - City Centre
- 42 - Old Farnley - Wortley - City Centre - Burmantofts - St James's University Hospital - Fearnville
- 49 & 50/50A - East Leeds - St James' University Hopital - City Centre - Burley Road - Bramley (49) - Horsforth (50/50A)
- 51/55 Morley (south of Leeds) - Elland Road (Leeds United football ground) - City Centre - Meanwood - Moor Allerton Shopping Centre
- 56 - Whinmoor - East Leeds - City Centre - Tinshill (north west Leeds)
- 71 - City Centre - Scott Hall Road - Park & Ride - Alwoodley (Primley Park)
- 72 Leeds Bus Station - Leeds Headrow - Armley - Bramley - Stanningley - Thornbury - Bradford
- 73 Leeds Bus Station - Leeds Train Station - Armley - Bramley - Stanningley - Pudsey
- 95 & 96 - City Centre - Universities - Headingley - Otley Road - Lawnswood - Bodington Hall (95) or Cookridge (96)
- 97 - City Centre - Headingley - West Park - Horsforth - Rawdon - Yeadon - Guiseley
Taxis can be expensive, but the black and white ones are licensed and safer than private hire cabs. The black and white taxis can be flagged down, but you must phone first for the others.
In the city centre, try Amber Taxis (advance booking only, +44 113 231-1366): you can get around the city centre for about £3-7.
In south Leeds, try Local Cars (advance booking only, +44 113 252-8258): a journey for less than a mile is £2.70.
There is a limited suburban train service which serves some tourist destinations such as Headingley Stadium, but plans are underway for a radical overhaul of the city's transport system since the proposed tram system has had its funding withdrawn by the government.
There is a shuttle boat between Granary Wharf (for Leeds City Station), Brewery Wharf and Clarence Dock (for the Royal Armouries Museum), operated by Leeds City Cruisers.
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City centre shops number well over 1,000, made up of modern shopping centres, the lovely arcades and busy streets - principally Briggate, a wide and attractive pedestrian street with all the high street favourites and much more (from time to time there are markets and other events, and there are usually street performances of some kind). Much of the central shopping area is pleasantly pedestrianised, making retail therapy even easier. Leeds has myriad options for shopping including the beautiful Victorian-era shopping arcades, offering anything from the reasonably priced to the expensive items. In November and December, Millennium Square is turned into a Christmas wonderland of stalls, eateries and fairground-rides for Christkindelmarkt - the city's German Christmas market. There are also several outdoor markets held across the city more regularly, including occasional French markets on Briggate. Plans are also afoot for a massive extension of the main shopping district. City Centre Shopping Centres include all:
- Victoria Quarter, Briggate, city centre. Home of Harvey Nichols [www], North Face, Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood [www] and much more, the upmarket (and architecturally stunning) jewel in the crown of Leeds' shopping district.
- Thornton's Arcade and Queen's Arcade, city centre (opposite Victoria Quarter). Opposite the Victoria Quarter offer a range of interesting (if mainly fairly pricey) shops including some great boutiques and one-off places.
- Corn Exchange, city centre. A stunning domed interior and a range of shops to please both label-lovers and teenagers, as well as stalls and cafés. There are occasional concerts, exhibitions, fetes and the Christmas decorations are lovely.
- Market, Kirkgate, city centre.The biggest cover market/market on one site in Europe. Fascinating even just for the atmosphere of a traditional British market. Largest indoor market in Europe and also is a beautiful Victorian building and a landmark in Leeds it also has a outdoor market which sells everything from food to clothes to electronics and accessories. Fresh seafood are highly recommended.
- Granary Wharf (literally under the railway station). By the canal, has a selection of interesting boutiques, restaurants, exhibition space, a small concert venue, street performers and more in a unique subterranean setting. There is also a regular market. The waterfront area is undergoing redevelopment but the range of shops on offer is set to only get bigger.
The districts of Chapel Allerton, Headingley and Roundhay also offer a smaller (but worthwhile) range of boutiques and other shops. Crossgates in East Leeds has a medium sized shopping centre and many highstreet shops and cafés, and Horsforth in the North West offers a range of shops and eateries.
Of course, as with almost all of the UK today, supermarkets, M&S Simply Food and other chains dominate the food-shop market, but there are an increasing number of quality independent delicatessens, bakeries and other little food shops across the city. Many out-of-centre areas retain their local shops (though this cannot be said for everywhere) and the city centre has an impressive range on offer, including:
- Chinese. There are a number of Chinese food shops around Vicar Lane and the Templar Street Chinatown Arcade - including a well-stocked oriental supermarket on Vicar Lane itself. The best restaurants around are Tong Palace on Vicar Lane, and Red Chili on Great George Street.
- Harvey Nichols Foodmarket, Briggate, city centre. Small, squashed between Fourth Floor Restaurant and Yo Sushi, but it has lots of expensive goodies for that extra special something.
- Out of this World, city centre. Excellent, well stocked, fair-trade organic mini-market offering all the food you could want, but tastier, healthier, more ethically responsible and, admittedly, more expensive.
- Pickles & Potter. Sandwich shop par excellence, this award winning little place just off Lands Lane gets mouths watering. The chocolate brownies are genuinely the best you will ever have. The roast beef sandwich is also highly recommended. Some of the most expensive Pork Pies ever encountered!
- Salvo's Salumeria, Headingley. Range of fine authentic Italian produce.
- Dock Street Market, Dock Street, city centre. Exclusive but excellent deli-cum-mini market.
- Kirkgate Market, Kirkgate, city centre. Kirkgate market (see also above) has a massive range of traditional food stalls - including "Butcher Row" featuring numerous traditional Yorkshire butchers all next door to one another, and a number of well-stocked and good value fishmongers, fruit & veg stalls, and other food outlets.
The lively area of Harehills (bus no 12, 13, 49 or 50) in East Leeds has a bad reputation locally for crime and poverty, and whilst the visitor should be aware that it is maybe best not to flash expensive items or visit the area after dark, it is worth visiting for its fantastic range of food shops, cafés and restaurants from across the world. A true cultural melting pot, the area has everything from Jamaican grill-houses to Indian restaurants, Persian tea-shops to Eastern European supermarkets, and if you want to experience authentic international food or simply see another side of the city, it is an interesting place to go - and prices are far lower than in many other areas.
Books, CDs, DVDs
Leeds has all the major chains such as HMV, Waterstones, WHSmith, etc. and also a variety of smaller independent shops including Crash Records on The Headrow and Jumbo Records in the St. John's Centre, which hosts fairly regular instore performances (there's also lots of second hand places - including a massive, well-stocked Oxfam Books & Music in Headingley)
There are many restaurants in central Leeds that everyone can find something to their taste and budget. There are all the usual chains (many of which have several branches in the city) and a huge variety of one-off places, including many award-winners. Headingley, Chapel Allerton, Roundhay and various other districts outside the centre also have a range of quality eateries (whilst a few places in these areas are mentioned below, fuller selections can be found on their respective guides).
Café culture is thriving in Leeds, with a great number of places for a lunch or lighter meal, and there are also many fine curry houses in the city, due to the large South Asian population.
Leeds has a successful annual food and drink festival, held at the end of August, with many free events bookable in advance.
Sights & Landmarks
Although not considered a 'traditional' tourist destination, Leeds has plenty to occupy the visitor. As well as the main sights, museums, galleries, parks etc., wandering around the buzzing city centre to take in the atmosphere and admire the fantastic blend of architectural styles from the past few hundred years is a pleasure in itself. Within the city centre, the main districts are the civic quarter, central shopping district, exchange quarter and financial district.
- Millennium Square. There is generally something going on! A great public space home to some gorgeous civic architecture, concerts, exhibitions, ice rinks, Christmas markets.
- Saint Anne's Cathedral (Cathedral Church of St Anne), Cookridge Street. Small, but an extremely interesting example of an Arts and Crafts, 19th Century Catholic Cathedral - unique within the UK.
- St John's Church, New Briggate. Hidden away within peaceful gardens lies this true gem, built just before the English Civil War, it has beautiful ornate woodwork in its charming interior, and architecturally it is an extremely rare example of a 17th century double nave design.
- Town Hall, The Headrow. The city's symbol and pride and joy, one of the world's finest Victorian buildings, and home to a dazzling array of concerts, particularly during the city's popular and extensive International Concert Season [www]. The recently restored interior is stunning.
- Leeds Art Gallery and The Henry Moore Institute, The Headrow.The world of modern and classical art is at your disposal here in Leeds. It has a small but interesting range of exhibits, and is a great place to kill half an hour. Free.
- Oxford Place Chapel, Oxford Place. Lovely 19th Century, red-brick baroque church.
- Victoria Quarter including County Arcade, Briggate.When the Victorian civic authorities sought to improve the sights and foul smells of Briggate and the city centre, they demolished some of the city's dirtiest yards, alleyways, shambles and lanes and built covered shopping arcades filled with fine establishments. These catered for the refined tastes of the growing moneyed classes of Leeds. This rebuilding continued into Edwardian times and the legacy is some of Europe's finest, most elegant shopping locations. Today these arcades are home to some of the most exclusive designer shops in Great Britain (Vivienne Westwood, Hugo Boss, Luis Vuitton and Harvey Nichols to name a few).
- Kirkgate Market, Vicar Lane. This traditional British market is largest in Europe. Housed in an opulent late Victorian palace to commerce, it has both indoor and outdoor stalls. Marks and Spencer had their first establishment here, originally called, 'Marks Penny Bazaar'.
- Corn Exchange, Call Lane.Shopping in surroundings to rival any of Leeds' fine arcades. Located just to the south of Kirkgate markets on Vicar Lane. Designed by Cuthbert Broderick and architecturally based on the Paris corn exchange. A largely elliptical building, crowned with a great glass dome roof, that allows light to stream in even on the greyest Yorkshire winter mornings. (Broderick was also architect of Leeds town hall and the Leeds Mechanics' Institute, Millennium Square, Two shops designed by Broderick still survive opposite the Mechanics Institute on Cookridge Street, now converted into a cocktail bar.)
- Leeds Minster (Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds), Kirkgate. An attractive and fairly large neo-gothic church with a renowned choir and concerts from time to time. During the rebuilding of the Parish church in Victorian times, the original Saxon crosses where Leeds folk would have worshipped in the 8/9th centuries (well before the first church of Leeds had been founded) were unearthed in the medieval tower and is permanently on display inside.
- Holy Trinity Church, Boar Lane. An unassuming location and exterior hide an elegant baroque interior, built for the merchant class by subscription and donation so they could worship well away from the lower working classes of the city. The Iconic spire of Holy Trinity has dominated the skyline of the city for hundreds of years and was restored in 2006/7.
- Park Square. A lovely Georgian square reminiscent of Dublin, and is often an overlooked haven of tranquility in the city centre. (Hard to find without a map)
- City Square. With old Post Office and imposing Queens Hotel.
South across the river from The Call the area around Leeds Dock has some interesting development of cafés, restaurants, shops and apartments as wells as the Royal Armouries Museum and Salem Chapel.
Home to the Town Hall, the fantastic Art Gallery, Henry Moore Instituteand Millennium Square, this grand corner of the city is where many of the main tourist draws are to be found. The Light with its shops, restaurants, bars, hotel, cinema etc. in a beautifully converted historic building is a major pull, but venture along the Headrow and experience some of the best cultural attractions on offer in the city. The Art Gallery has great rotating exhibitions and the best collection of 20th century British art outside London. Adjoining it are the Henry Moore Institute and the Central Lending Library with its beautiful Victorian interior. Across the road is the Town Hall (see above), a breathtaking demonstration of civic pride.
On Great George St is a small selection of shops, the 19th century entrance (with a lovely colonial-style entrance hallway and small gallery space up the stairs) of the Leeds General Infirmary, and the recently restored Electric Press which is now home to the Carriageworks Theatre and several bars and restaurants, providing a semi-al fresco eating environment for all weather conditions. Next door is the impressive and well-used public space of Millennium Square (see above) with its attractive Mandela Gardens (opened by Mandela himself, now a freeman of the city, they are a lovely spot especially in summer) abutting the Electric Press building. The square is crowned with the Portland Stone neo-classical Civic Hall and the new City Museum (opened in 2008). Down on Cookridge St is the city's small but unique Arts and Crafts St Anne's Cathedral.
Central Shopping District
The very centre of Leeds is a temple to consumerism. Bounded by the 'Public Transport Box', a rough half mile square between The Headrow, Vicar Lane, Boar Lane and Park Row gives Leeds one of the most compact, busy and diverse pedestrian shopping districts in the UK where the highest concentration of the city centre's stores are to be found.
The principal shopping street is the broad and bustling Briggate (recently attractively repaved), where many flagship stores such as Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, Debenhams are to be found alongside high-end fashion (e.g. Louis Vuitton) and high street favourites (Topshop, Zara, H&M) etc. Briggate's attractive and eclectic architecture spans three centuries, and the grand shop fronts only add to the streets appeal.
Either side of the top end of Briggate are the city's famous arcades, splendidly palatial Victorian roofed-over shopping streets home to some of the city's most exclusive and interesting shops. The famous Victoria Quarter(Victoria St, County Arcade and Cross Arcade) has some of the most expensive clothes in Leeds. Queen's and Thornton's arcades are a little more affordable with more independent stores. Down from the arcades, several medieval yards (or "loins") run off almost hidden from between shopfronts on Briggate. Whilst some are little more than shop-backs and some are now closed off, some exude genuine historic atmosphere and a few are home to attractive pubs and bars, including The Angel Inn, The Ship, The Bay Horse, Queen's Court and three-hundred-year-old Whitelocks'.
Beyond Briggate, there are several other prominent shopping streets, including gorgeously symmetrical King Edward Street with its matching Victorian Burmantoft terracotta buildings. Commercial Street, Kirkgate, Lands Lane and Albion St are other principal streets in the area, continuing the mix of shops, cafés, lovely architecture. There are also several indoor shopping centres, and a central focal point is tiny but busy Central Square at the base of Lands Lane. Albion Place is a quieter street of elegant Georgian buildings (mainly offices) including the exclusive Leeds Club and the city's central private members library, running between the square and Albion St.Swan Street is a quiet and pretty little street between Briggate and Lands Lane with a few attractive little shops, cafés and bars and a laid-back vibe, as well as the internationally famous City Varieties theatre and music-hall, once home to Charlie Chaplin.
Centred on the massive dome of the Corn Exchange, the Exchange Quarter is the centre of Leeds' bohemian life, with one-off boutiques, funky cafés and piercing parlours filling its pretty cobbled streets. It is becoming increasingly chic, however, with a plethora of upscale bars and stylish restaurants, particularly on Call Lane.
The Corn Exchange dominates the area, sitting squattly at the junction of several major roads. This grand Victorian building is one of the finest in the city, and was a functioning corn market for several decades, but was almost unused for much of the twentieth century, until its restoration to its present form in the 1980s. It now houses a myriad of little boutiques, a few cafés and market stalls. The goth and emo teenagers that hang around outside frequent many of the shops such as Grin and Exit, but there are also a range of fashion and artisan stores to please all, and the beautiful architecture (the shops fit into the retained 19th-century store-fronts, and the domed roof is spectacular from the interior) can be enjoyed by everyone.
Three sides of the Corn Exchange are bounded by semi-pedestrian cobbled streets lined by a hotch potch of attractive Victorian buildings home to shops and restaurants from Blue Rinse (see below) to Pizza Express, housed in the beautiful Third White Cloth Hall, sadly sliced in half by the railway in the mid-nineteenth century, but retaining its lovely façade and clock-tower. Along the railway, the continental feel continues with bars and cafés that spill on to the pavement. Beautiful Assembly Street, a hub of nightlife, is lined with elegant and imposing eighteenth-century warehouses and has been recently repaved, and in the summer is a relaxing place to sip a coffee or cocktail and admire the buildings and atmosphere. Nearby Crown Street buildings are a fine example of modern architecture at its finest, sympathetic to the surrounding environment but adding a dash of vibrancy with bright use of colour above its restaurants and bars.
Call Lane, the area's main drag, is a hive of activity in the evenings, with several of the city's best and most stylish bars, all vying for attention. In the day-time however it is much quieter, with a few vintage and alternative clothes stores at the Kirkgate end, and musical instrument shops located at the Calls end. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had from wondering around the pretty and historic medieval yards that run between Call Lane and Lower Briggate (at night these too come alive and are full of revelers).
Kirkgate is currently a fairly downmarket shopping street with a few off-beat stores. However plans are afoot to refurbish the historic town-houses and bring life back into the street as a centre for independent shops, with the renovation of the dilapidated First White Cloth Hall along similar (if smaller) lines to the Corn Exchange. The east end of Kirkgate and New York Street also increasingly have a number of bars and clubs, including the celebrated Northern Light; there are also several new apartment buildings springing up. The end of Kirkgate is market by Leeds Parish Church, a grand (if not enormous) neo-gothic structure home to one of the country's most revered children's choirs. To the west, Central Road links Kirkgate to Duncan Street, and is home to some attractive Flemish-style buildings, a few off-beat shops and the acclaimed Little Tokyo restaurant and Leeds institution the HiFi Club. Duncan Street has a number of small shops.
The Calls was where riverside life restarted in Leeds, with its renovation from a derelict nowhere to the city's most desirable real estate in the 1980s. The apartments lining the waterfront may not be as exclusive or as rare today, but it is still an attractive and expensive area, home to some of Leeds' longest running high-end establishments including 42 The Calls hotel, Pool Court and the Calls Grill. Some of the waterfront and streets around here are surprisingly yet to be fully renovated, but it's unlikely to be long before developers get their claws into the remaining warehouses, railway arches and mill-cottages. Leeds Civic Trust's heritage centre and left-wing arts centre The Common Place fill the gap between the Calls and the railway line.
Whilst the Financial District does not have the obvious draws of the Civic Quarter, it is nonetheless an interesting area that deserves at least a little of your time. Roughly bounded by the Headrow and Westgate to the North, the A58 motorway to the West, the River Aire to the South and Park Row to the East, this is the most expensive business real estate in the city. Many large companies have their offices here as well as innumerable lawyers, estate agents, etc.
Park Square is probably the number one attraction of the area. Situated just south-west of the Town Hall, this large and handsome Georgian Square has lovely formal gardens that fill up with workers at lunchtime in the warmer months. Whilst most of the square is bounded by rows of 18th century redbrick townhouses that made the square one of the city's most fashionable addresses 200 years ago, the South West corner is home to a little-known architectural highlight of Leeds, a converted warehouse (now offices) built in the 19th century as a replication of a Moorish Palace, complete with turrets and Islamic-style ornate design. The streets to the south of Park Square are a mixture of Georgian townhouses and more modern office buildings sitting cheek-by-jowl. Whilst not hugely diverting, there are several interesting buildings in this area. Wellington Street, a busy thoroughfare which marks the bottom of the Georgian area, has several restaurants and bars as well as being characterised by more modern business development.
Between East Parade and Park Row, two busy main routes through the area, are a series of parallel streets that are home to some of the city's top restaurants and bars, most famously Greek Street. There is a rich patchwork of architecture spanning the past two centuries in this small area, with fine Gothic buildings and sleek modern towers. Park Row itself boasts outstanding buildings such as the Leeds Permanent building, blending seamlessly into modern glass building-fronts.
The south-east corner of the Financial District is City Square, one of the most important hubs of city life. Recently cleaned up and repaved, the square is still home to bronze nymphs holding gas lights and the famous statue of the Black Prince. The old post office is now the swanky Restaurant Bar & Grill and Loch Fyne seafood restaurant. A rarely beautiful 1990s office block sits at No1 City Square, and the south side is taken up by the Art Deco façade of grand old dame of the Leeds Railway hotel trade, The Queens Hotel (L.N.E.R.).
- Thackray Medical Museum, Beckett Street (next door to St James' Hospital). Award winning. The best of its kind in the country, with all manner of exhibits and the chance to experience the life of a Victorian child or mill-worker (and their often gruesome medical history). If you've got children, you'd be mad to miss it!
- Tropical World, Princes Avenue, Roundhay. Great for a rainy day as it's all indoors, this extensive menagerie has animals, birds, fish and insects from across the globe in thoughtfully themed zones.
- Temple Newsam, Temple Newsam Road (off Selby Road). One of the great historic estates in England. With over 1500 acres landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century, it is a large Tudor–Jacobean mansion housing a large collection of works of art. The garden has some excellent walks and houses a working Rare Breeds farm.
- Harewood House, Harewood Village. This huge estate, complete with extensive gardens, lake, lovely café and bird gardens, is owned by the Queen's cousin. The opulent roccoco house itself is well worth a look around.
- Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Kirkstall,. Largest abbey in the North of England - see below. One of the UK's biggest and best preserved abbeys, recently restored with a new visitor centre. It's 3 miles out of town but lovers of history and architecture, or those in search of a beautiful and peaceful spot in the city won't regret making the trip. Buses (33/33a) every 10 minutes from the city centre. Opposite is Abbey House Museum [www].
- Armley Mills, Canal Road, Armley,. Excellent museum of industry and Leeds' (major) role in the Industrial Revolution.
- Thwaite Mills, Thwaite Lane, Stourton. Rare example of a former stone-crushing mill, now an excellent working museum.
- Middleton Railway, Moor Road, Hunslet. The oldest working railway in the world. Situated in South Leeds between Middleton and Hunslet, it used to carry coal from the coal mines to the south of the city to the factories of Hunslet and central Leeds. You can now have a ride on the historic rolling stock.
- Church of St John the Baptist, Church Lane, Adel. Whilst a long way out of town, this leafy and extremely affluent suburb has some lovely houses, and is a world a way from the bustle of the city centre - nearby York Gate garden is beautiful and well worth a visit), this lovely and well-preserved early Norman church set in verdant grounds is a hidden treasure
- Bramham Park, Wetherby. Another such stately home to the north-east of Leeds with a long history and lovely gardens and grounds.
N.B. under construction or planned for the future:
- Holbeck Urban Village. The complete renovation and restoration of an entire city district. In the south-west of central Leeds, this historic area was key to the Industrial Revolution, and has many buildings and sites of interest, including the stunning Egyptian-style Temple Mill and Italianate Tower Works. The restoration and redevelopment has already begun with the Round Foundry, a new-age village of offices, flats, cafés and media centres complete with traditional paved streets and 200-year old buildings. A plethora of other developments promise that this area will become more and more of an exciting new destination.
In fine weather
You'll almost certainly be in the city centre, so why not take in some of the magnificent Victorian architecture on a walking tour?
Start at the train station and head into City Square where you will see the oldPost Office and imposing Queens Hotel.
Go up the right of the Old Post Office (Infirmary St) and cross over the road onto Saint Paul's Street.
Take the second street on the right and you will come across the pretty Park Square gardens. Continue along Park Square East until you reach The Headrow, from where you will be able to see the Town Hall.
Turn right along the Headrow and you will also pass the City Library (free to enter) and Art Gallery (also free), you may also want to try a cup of tea in theTiled Hall Cafe, between the Art Gallery and Library.
Turn left up Cookridge Street, pass the Leeds Cathedral and cross over Great George St. You will now have reached Millennium Square, the Civic Hall and the City Museum.
If you turn back towards the Cathedral and take an immediate left after the Cathedral on to St Anne's St. you will come to a small square and the entrance to 'The Light. Inside The Light (open most hours) take the escalators, exiting at the far end on to Albion Street.
A right turn will bring you back to The Headrow. Turn left and you will pass Dortmund Square and the former Allders Department store (now Sainsburys). On the right turn down Briggate, one of the city's main streets. Take a look up some of the arcades on either side of Briggate (you are now in the main shopping quarter), for which Leeds is famous.
On the left you will come to the Victoria Quarter. If this is open take a walk through and exit at the far end. If closed, walk a little further and turn left on to King Edward St.
You are now on Vicar Lane and a right turn will take you past Leeds City Market on the left. Walk a little further and you will see the huge dome of the former Corn Exchange on the left - take a look inside for some quirky individual shops or maybe pop downstairs for a cup of tea at Anthony's.
You can now extend the walk a little along the riverside, or follow Duncan St and Boar Lane back to the train station.
To extend the walk, go around the Corn Exchange along a cobbled street and go under the bridge. Turn left on to The Calls. After a short while you will see a fountain with a huge ball, turn right on to this street (also The Calls). On the right there is a pedestrian bridge - cross the river here and you are inBrewery Wharf. Once over the bridge you need to go left along the river following signs for the Royal Armouries. Eventually you will come to Clarence Dock which has shops and restaurants plus the Royal Armories Museum (free entry). To get back to the station go back the way you came to the Corn Exchange, then follow Duncan Street and Boar Lane.
In bad weather
There's plenty to do to spend a couple of hours. The City Museum, Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute, Markets, Library and Royal Armories are all free, indoors and walkable in the city centre. Many of the city centre shops are undercover due to being in arcades or shopping centres. The following route tours many of the shops without getting too wet: the Merrion Centre, St Johns Centre, the Core, Queens Arcade, Victoria Quarter, Debenhams then the expansive Trinity Leeds with M&S and next. Out of the city centre, Tropical World costs just £3.30, is indoors and very warm in Roundhay, 3 miles north of the city centre.
Museums & Galleries
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 aRoundhay 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. Leeds Art Gallery reopened in June 2007 after a major renovation, and houses important collections of traditional and contemporary British art. Smaller museums in Leeds include Otley Museum; Horsforth Village Museum; ULITA, an Archive of International Textiles; and the museum at Fulneck Moravian Settlement.
Things to do
- Leeds Lights (Christmas Illuminations). The UK's biggest display, are an annual display from Nov-Jan comprising both big show lights and the subtle and beautiful across the city, and are even longer than the legendary Blackpool Illuminations.
Leeds holds two annual film festivals: the increasingly prestigious Leeds International Film Festival with its huge menu of different films and Leeds Young People's Film Festival [www]. Cinemas in surrounding areas include Odeon Leeds Bradford (Thornbury: 7 miles) [www]; Showcase (Birstall: 6 miles) [www]; Vue, Kirkstall (2 miles) [www] and Xscape Castleford (10 miles)[www].
- Vue, The Light Plaza, The Headrow, city centre. Modern, well located 13-screen multiplex with huge screens.
- Everyman Cinema, Trinity, Briggate, city centre. New cinema complex located in the recently developed Trinity shopping centre.
- Hyde Park Picture House. Another excellent independent cinema in the midst of the hot-bed of student habitation in the town. The cinema shows a mix of modern mainstream and art-cinema films as well as a formidable selection of classics. Lucky cinephiles may even experience the latter in conjunction with an introductory speech prepared for local film students. It retains many of its original features including gas lighting.
- Cottage Road Cinema, Headingley. Atmospheric old cinema near the centre of Headingley. Plenty to do afterwards as well.
- Armley Mills Cinema, Armley. One of Britain's tiniest cinemas with only 26 seats located in the Armley Mills museum.
Theatre & comedy
- The Carriageworks, Millennium Square. Home to the city's impressive range of amateur dramatic and musical groups, including the acclaimed Leeds Youth Opera
- Jongleurs. The Leeds branch of the national comedy club chain.
- City Varieties Music Hall. World famous and has even had Charlie Chaplin tread the boards. Home to a mix of shows.
- Grand Theatre. Major shows (often straight from the West End); also this is the home of the world famous (and extraordinarily good) Opera North who perform a wide repertoire of operas and operettas.
- Seven, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton. A new theatre and arts centre due to open soon on Harrogate Road in Chapel Allerton
- West Yorkshire Playhouse. More adventurous and often performs world premiers and encourages local talent - well worth a visit. Lucky travellers may arrive in time for one of the themed, almost festival-style programmes.
Leeds is a great place to see up-and-coming talent, and has seen the formation of successful bands such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Kaiser Chiefs and Sunshine Underground. The city is home to many live performances from big-name stars, mostly at outdoor concerts. Millennium Square in the city centre regularly has gigs with a 7,000 capacity. Leeds recently built an indoor concert arena with around 14,000 seats.
- Harewood House. Summer.
- Leeds Festival. Northern twin of the famous Reading festival. 3 days of live bands and stars from around the world play to 80,000 people every summer bank holiday weekend. You can camp over, or attend just one day. Tendency to be a bit riotous.
- Leeds Irish Centre, York Road, East Leeds. Regular concerts from a variety of different types of musical acts.
- Leeds Metropolitan University (Leeds Met).
- Roundhay Park.
- Temple Newsam. Every year, Temple Newsam plays host to the UK's original Party in the Park pop extravaganza featuring big name chart stars of the minute. Opera in the Park is a massively popular outdoor festival of opera and songs from the shows, also at Temple Newsam.
- Leeds University Refectory. Hosts a huge number of concerts from medium-large bands across the year. It is famously where the Who recorded their seminal live album Live at Leeds.
- The Wardrobe, Quarry Hill. Famed for its diverse range of quality live music, including a strong jazz offer.
- Leeds International Pianoforte Competition, Leeds Town Hall. Every 3 years (2015). One of the world's most prestigious piano contests, held every 3 years in the magnificent Victorian Town Hall, this event attracts the world's best piano players. Next due to be held 2015.
There are plenty of leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools across the city, though unfortunately there won't be a public swimming pool in the city centre until the University one is completed. Major city centre fitness/leisure centres are deluxe Esporta, LA fitness and the ubiquitous Virgin Active. Some hotels have great leisure facilities or agreements with local centres for free access for guests.
- John Charles Centre for Sport, South Leeds. International standard facilities for all four jumping disciplines: triple jump, long jump, high jump and pole vault. As well as an area for javelin throwing, an indoor throwing cage is available for discus and hammer. The centre also has its own specific weights area, designed specifically for use by athletes, dedicated to high performance and strength training. An eight lane all weather outdoor athletics track conforms to full International Association of Athletics Federations specifications. Six indoor tennis courts and six outdoor floodlit courts provide the ideal tennis environment either for the complete beginner or the established player. Leeds has a brand new (2007) 50 metre pool and diving centre.
- Cricket (Yorkshire County Cricket Club), Headingley. April–September.Also a Test Match venue.
- Leeds United Football Club. August–May. Currently in the Championship (the second tier of English League association football),
- Rugby League (Leeds Rhinos), Headingley. Best supported Rugby club in the UK (League or Union). World Champions 2005, 2007 & 2012, Superleague Champions 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2011.
- Ice Cube, Millennium Square. January–March. Outdoor ice skating.
- Rugby Union (Leeds Tykes). September–May. Currently in the Guinness Premiership (the top tier of English Rugby Union) - Powergen Cup Winner 2004.
- Xscape Castleford, Colorado Way, Castleford. Real snow indoor ski slopes (with designer outlet, cinema and nightlife). Indoor real snow skiing, Ice climbing wall, cinema and restaurants!
- The White Rose Way, Leeds City Square to Scarborough. Take several days, or spread each leg over a number of day walks to complete the 104 miles of the White Rose Way from Leeds to Scarborough
Whilst hardly tropical, Leeds has an unusually mild and sunny climate for northern England, protected from the worst and wettest weather by the Pennine Hills to the west ... this gives more than ample opportunity to explore the fantastic parks of one of Europe's greenest cities (Leeds has the most green space in its city limits of any European city other than Vienna).
- Roundhay Park. Huge picturesque park with 2 lakes, café, flower gardens and walks. Right next to Tropical World, and the lovely formal Canal Gardens, be sure to visit them all in one day.
- Golden Acre Park, North West Leeds. Gardens and café set around huge lake.
- Hall Park, Horsforth. Some distance from central Leeds, has lovely Japanese Gardens and is accessible by bus.
- The Hollies Arboretum, North West Leeds. Large botanical garden set in lush woodlands with a wonderful selection of plants.
- Kirkstall Abbey Park, Kirkstall. Picturesque riverside park containing the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey
- Lotherton Hall. Deer park, extensive and interesting bird garden, historic hall and café. Museum.
- Otley Chevin, Otley , North Leeds.
- Temple Newsam, East Leeds. Country mansion, wonderful parkland and rare breeds visitor farm (excellent for kids) - all within the city boundary!
- Woodhouse Moor, Central/North Leeds. The closest big park to central Leeds, between Leeds University and Hyde Park Corner. In summer months it is packed to bursting with students and other young people sunbathing and playing sports. There are large fields, small formal gardens and a skate park.
Festivals and events
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 2008 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.
Leeds' two large universities mean there is a vibrant, diverse and thumping nightlife scene including many clubs as well as a huge range of fine drinking establishments from traditional pubs to ultra chic concept bars. It is estimated that there are over 180 city centre bars and pubs, and around 29 nightclubs with late licenses. Railway arches are increasingly popular homes for bars and clubs across the length of the city centre. Leeds City Guide [www] is a good source of information, as is the comprehensive (and excellent) listings magazine the Leeds Guide. Leeds was voted Number one city for clubbing [www]. All areas (indeed, most streets) of central Leeds offer something in the way of nightlife, but the main areas are:
- Call Lane in the Exchange Quarter (one of the city's main nightlife districts), offering a range of bars (which many would argue are the best in the city) from chic to bohemian. The area around the Calls and the Parish Church has overspill from Call Lane and some great waterfront bars and restaurants.
- The 'yards' off Briggate are home to both traditional pubs and modern bars and clubs.
- Boar Lane is for the most part made up of standard chain bars and more downmarket drinking establishments, but a few buck the trend.
- Architecturally lovely Assembly Street has a select number of swanky bars, clubs and restaurants.
- Greek Street is expensive, but in between the high-end exclusivity are tackier bars attracting a less desirable crowd at weekends.
- New York Street is becoming increasingly popular.
- The Northern Quarter, centred on New Briggate and spreading north (and down Grand Arcade) is home to several older Leeds institutions but is now up-and-coming with many hot new venues.
- The Civic Quarter has everything: flashy bars in the Electric Press, traditional pubs, and loud, trendy bars and clubs above Millennium Square
- The financial district has a number of dispersed, chic watering holes. Park Row continues along the same lines as Greek Street
- Brewery Wharf on the south bank is growing as a drinking destination
- Lower Briggate is the centre of the gay community, and a variety of establishments in the area reflect this, though most are welcoming (and many are popular with) the straights.
Out of the city centre, the districts of Headingley and Chapel Allerton are extremely popular for bars and restaurants. Exclusive Street Lane in Roundhay is also becoming increasingly popular. (See their respective guides for details on specific drinking spots in these areas.)
Leeds Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) offer free pub guides from their website. What follows is a selection of some of Leeds' highlights, but it is by no means definitive or all-inclusive!
Leeds' thriving gay village (the city's first annual Pride festival launched in 2006) has a number of venues, including the ever-popular old stalwart Queen's Court, Lower Briggate housed in a fine 17th century building, among notable others including Fibre, The Bridge Inn, Blayds Bar, The New Penny, The Viaduct and Religion to name a few.
Leeds was voted Best UK City for Clubbing, certainly not for nothing! People flock to the city from all parts of the country for a bit of the action. It is common to meet clubbers from London on a night out. The city centre is packed to bursting with bars and clubs, ranging from cutting edge chic to indie and alternative to cheesy tunes for the drunken masses to small select places for people who really like their music (house is still very much in vogue in Leeds, but whatever your musical taste is, you are guaranteed to find something). Here is a short list of some of the best and/or most popular places in the city at the moment:
There are several gay nights (and fully gay venues) in clubs on and around Lower Briggate, including Mission, Fibre and Queen's Court.
The West Indian Centre on Chapeltown Road has a reputation for great fun nights of a less-mainstream kind, including ever-popular monthly Subdub. Whilst the venue itself is friendly and safe (or as safe as can be expected from a club), Chapeltown has a bad reputation, and to avoid trouble, go in fairly large groups and don't wonder around outside. It is best to take a taxi or at least a bus. Don't walks the two miles from the centre as it is very difficult to find the place, and it is near rough estates.
Things to know
From February 2015, the main tourist information office for the city is in Leeds Art Gallery on the Headrow, but there are various other information points across the city (e.g. Central Lending Library, The Headrow). For foreign visitors Leeds has a range of consulates, including: German, 1 Whatehall Road, City Centre, [www] and Greek, 8 Street Lane, Roundhay.
There are 12 Changing Places toilet facilities within 5 miles of Leeds city centre, equipped with hoists, height adjustable changing benches and other facilities to enable people with multiple and profound disabilities to be changed and so enabling tourists with these needs to visit Leeds attractions in safety and dignity and stay as long as they wish.[www] Sites include the Central Library Tiled Cafe, Chevin Forest Park, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Headingley HEART, Armley Leisure Centre, Morley Leisure Centre, White Rose Shopping Centre and Temple Newsom.
Safety in Leeds
Leeds is known as a friendly city, but as with any other city, the usual tips about exercising a degree of common caution apply: leave no valuables unattended, avoid going to badly lit/shady/unknown places by yourself or walk around alone at night, etc.
There are some notorious areas of Leeds at night with seedy reputations, such as the unrejuvenated areas of Chapeltown (particularly Spencer Place, a red light district), Holbeck and Mabgate. Whilst by and large these places are safe by day, it is best to avoid risking trouble.
It is also advisable to avoid displaying any memorabilia or clothing of football team Manchester United (the city's football rivals), particularly in the more sulubrious parts of town (though one can expect few problems around the city centre). Similarly, Leeds is an extremely proud city and disrespecting the area will almost certainly result in a hostile reaction to such comments. If you do encounter any trouble, the emergency services (police, ambulance, fire) number is the same as for the rest of the country: 999, or the new European wide emergency number: 112.
If you do happen to get ill in Leeds, there are of course NHS and private medical practices all across the city. The Light complex houses a NHS walk in centre and Leeds is also home to two of Europe's largest hospitals - Leeds General Infirmary (in the Civic Quarter) and rapidly expanding St James' (a couple of miles east of the City Centre and just south of Harehills), as well as numerous smaller hospital and PCTs across the wider city area. As with the rest of the UK, tap water is safe to drink, and you are unlikely to come across any major health risks other than speeding traffic and the effects of alcohol.