Facts about Leeds – Interesting and Unusual


Leeds Town Hall, The Headrow.

  • Leeds Population –  751,500, (2011 census population of Leeds)
  • Leeds Metropolitan borough had a population of 1.7 million. (2011 census)
  • Nickname: “Loiner” or Leodensian  – Latin for person from Leeds
  • Motto: “Pro rege et lege” “For king and the law”
  • City status: 1893
  • GDP: £51 bn (2011 est)

History Leeds

  • Origin of Leeds was when the Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of “Loidis”, the origin of the name Leeds.
  • In Middle ages, an important centre for making white broadcloth being traded at the Leeds White Cloth Hall.
  • During the industrial revolution, Leeds had many wool and flax factories. But, also remained an important centre for agriculture.
  • The Leeds Corn Exchange was built in 1864, it has since been converted into an indoor market.
  • In post-war Britain, many traditional manufacturing industries declined. To a large extent, Leeds reinvented itself as a service sector town, with banking, insurance and finance main business.

Business Leeds

LeedsLeeds – the old, the decrepit and the new. All are found in Leeds

Biggest current employers in Leeds:

  • Leeds City Council (33,000);
  • Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust (14,000)
  • 112,000 people work in the city’s financial and business sectors
  • The first Marks & Spencer was in Leeds. It started as a penny Bazarre in Leeds Market set up in 1884 by Michael Marks – a Belarusian Jewish immigrant.. A decade later, he went into partnership with Tom Spencer, moving to a bigger premise.

Random Info

  • Leeds Carnival is Western Europe’s oldest West Indian Carnival.
  • Leeds attracts more annual visitors than traditional holiday destinations including Brighton and Torquay.
  • Leventhorpe Vineyard in Woodlesford is the northern most vineyard in the UK.
  • The game Cluedo was invented in 1949, by Waddington’s, who were based in Leeds.
  • The first moving film was created in Leeds, 1888 at Oakwood Grange, Roundhay. It was shot by Louis Le Prince – the ‘father of cinematography. (BBC)
  • Karl Marx, who spent much of his time writing Das Kapital in the British Library, also wrote briefly for the chartist Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser newspaper.


    Temple Works inspired by Egyptian architecture.

  • The Temple works, a grade I listed Flax Mill was once considered largest room in the world. Sheep grazed on the roof to try and keep the room more humid to make the flax easier to work with.
  • The UK’s first free internet service provider “Freeserver” was founded in 1998 by Ajaz Ahmed, a manager of PC World in Leeds. It was sold in 2001 to Wanadoo for £1.6bn
  • BBC’s Pudsey Bear used in “Children in Need” is named after the Pudsey district of Leeds.
  • Leeds was badly affected by a hurricane in February 1962. A rare weather event for the UK.

Education Leeds

  • There are over 200,000 students in Leeds
  • There are 64,000  degree students at Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University
  • The Leeds College of Art has seen many illustrious students, such as Damien Hirst, Barbara Hepworth, Kenneth Armitage and Henry Moore.
  • Research at the University of Leeds by William Henry Bragg and his son helped discovered the structure of crystals using x-ray technology, this later led to the discovery of DNA structure.

Transport Leeds


Ledds 1970s, waltjabsco

  • The Aire and Calder Navigation canal was built in 1699 (Leeds to Goole)
  • The Middleton railways is the oldest continually operated railway. Originally built in the district of Hunslet in 1758 to bring coal into the city. It ran freight services until 1983 and is still run as a heritage railway.
  • It was also the first railway to use a steam locomotive ‘Salamanca’
  • Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1816.
  • One of first UK railways built in 1832 Leeds and Selby line. By 1902, Leeds had an extensive network of train lines. Railway map of Leeds


  • Leeds Station is now an important railway hub, with a 2 hour connection to London. With 17 platforms it is the biggest train station outside London, and the second busiest outside London.
  • Leeds-Bradford International Airport near Yeadon, serves over 70 destinations in 30 countries.
  • The A58(M) inner ring road was the country’s first urban motorway.

Famous people from Leeds

  • Herbert Asquith – Liberal Prime Minister (1908-1916) was prime Minister at the start of the First World War though replaced with Lloyd George for perceived failings over the direction of the war.
  • Alan Bennett – successful playwright of “Talking heads’
  • Barbara Taylor Bradford – best selling novelist born 1933. Her first novel ‘A Woman of Substance’ sold over 30 million making it top ten best-sellers novels
  • Beryl Burton (b. Halton, Leeds) – record-breaking female cyclist. Burton set a record for the women’s 12 hour time trial record, (277.25 miles in 1968) which, at the time, also beat the mens record. Burton won the Best British all rounder competition for 25 consecutive years racing for Morley CC, but as a strict amateur she continued to work on a farm.
  • Ray Illingworth – England and Yorkshire Cricket Captain
  • Sue Ryder, who founded ‘Sue Ryder’ charity was made Baroness Ryder of Warsaw for her charitable efforts in Poland.
  • Peter O’Toole – actor famous for his role in Lawrence of Arabia
  • Sir Titus Salt – Businessman and philanthropist who created Saltaire Mills and the model town.
  • Edmund Happold,a structural engineer worked on the Sydney Opera House, the Millennium Dome and the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
  • Ernie Wise duo of Eric Morecambe.
  • Owen “Owney” Madden. Born Leeds 1891 went on to become a notorious New York gangster in the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood of Manhattan. He kept his Leeds accent and had the Yorkshire Post delivered to America.

Shopping Leeds


  • The city centre has two miles of traffic-free shopping and over 1,000 shops
  • Leeds is one of the greenest cities in Europe, with greenbelt land covering over two-thirds of its total area
  • Harvey Nicols in Briggate Leeds, was the second branch of the store in the world.

Sport Leeds

  • Headingley is a Test Cricket ground with a long tradition. It was at Headingley in 1981, that Ian Botham famously helped England reverse a seemingly impossible position to beat Australia in the Ashes.
  • Leeds United are based at Elland Road, and have maintained mixed fortunes in the post-war period.
  • Headingley is also the home to Leeds Rhinos RLFC, and Leeds Carnegie RUFC. Leeds Rhinos are the most successful club of the Super League era.

Tour de France 2014


In 2014, Leeds hosted the Grand Depart for the Tour de France, it was the furthest north the Tour de France has ever started.  The stage ran from Leeds to Harrogate, via Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales.


External links

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