Leeds location guide

Leeds is a world class city in West Yorkshire and is the third largest city in the UK. 

History

Leeds has its history in the production and trading of wool and during the Industrial revolution developed into a major mill town other industries that contributed to its development were, flax, engineering, iron foundries, chemicals, clothing manufacture and printing. From being a compact market town in the valley of the Aire in the 16th century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century.

Transport

By road

Leeds is well served by the road and rail network providing excellent access within Leeds, the surrounding areas and the rest of the UK. The Leeds inner ring road surrounds the city and forms part of the A58, A61, A64 and the M621 motorway. Leeds is one of the principal hubs of the northern motorway network and the radial M621 takes traffic into central Leeds from the M62 and M1. 

By rail 

Leeds has the second busiest railway station outside of London and there is the second phase of the High Speed 2 plans to connect Leeds to London via the East Midlands Hub and Sheffield.

MetroTrains  run to Leeds' suburbs and onwards to all parts of Leeds City Region. It provides national and international connections as well as services to local and regional destinations. It has 17 platforms, making it the largest in England outside London. There is a direct rail service from Leeds to Manchester Airport. 

A modern trolleybus network for Leeds is currently in the planning stages with an initial route from Stourtonin to Holt via Hunslet, New Dock, the city centre and Headingley.

By bus

The primary public transport within the city is the bus services with Leeds City bus station located at Dyer Street used by bus services to towns and cities in Yorkshire, plus local services. Adjacent to it is the coach station for National Express coach services provides nationwide services. 

By plane

Leeds Bradford International Airport is located in Yeadon, about 10 miles to the north-west of the city centre, and has both charter and scheduled flights to destinations within Europe plus some popular holiday destination.  

Walking 

  • The Leeds Country Way is a 62 miles circular walk through the rural outskirts of the city. 
  • The Meanwood Valley Trail leads from Woodhouse Moor 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. 
  • The towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a popular walking and cycling route. 
  • The White Rose Way walking trail to Scarborough begins at City Square. 
  • There are many parks and public footpaths in both the urban and rural parts of Leeds, and the Ramblers' Association, and other walking organisations offer sociable walks.  

By canal 

The building of the Aire and Celder Navigation and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal enabled the growth of Leeds, by transporting its textiles; like the rest of the canal network it is now mainly used for leisure activities.

Housing

Leeds has benefitted from significant expenditure on regenerating the city; attracting investments and flagship projects, there are many developments boasting luxurious penthouse apartments close to the city centre. The city offers many types of housing to suit everyone from traditional to contemporary design. The average property price in the city is £329,671 for a detached property, £173,196 for a semi detached, £123,243 for a terraced property and £133,301 for a flat. 

Shopping

The extensive retail area of Leeds is the principal regional shopping centre for the Yorkshire and the Humber region.  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. 

Briggate is the main pedestrianised shopping street where you can find all the High street stores with Queen Victoria Street covered with the largest expanse of stained glass in Britain and is home to 70 plus high-end luxury retailers and impressive architecture. The Leeds Kirkgate Market is the largest covered market in Europe.

Economy 

Today, Leeds is considered the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire urban area with the UK’s fourth largest urban economy and largest legal centre outside of London. In 2011 its financial and insurance services industry was the 5th largest in the UK, with over 30 national and international banks located in the city including their call centres. 

In 2011, the financial and services industry in Leeds was worth £2.1 billion and hosts the only subsidiary office of the Bank of England in the UK. 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.

Major companies based in the city with a significant presence include: William Hill, International Personal Finance, ASDA, Leeds Building Society, Northern Foods, Capita Group, KPMG, Direct Line, Aviva, Yorkshire Building Society, BT Group,  and TD Waterhouse. 

Leeds has a sophisticated and highly competitive legal market second only to London with 150 law firms operating within the city. Leeds hosts the only Administrative Court outside of London. 

Over recent years office developments have expanded south of the River Aire . There are in excess of 130,000 jobs in the city centre with tourism playing an important part in 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.

Education

Leeds has 220 primary schools, 39 secondary schools and 6 special inclusive learning centres. The city's oldest and largest private school is The Grammar School, other independent schools in Leeds include faith schools serving the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Further education in Leeds is provided by Leeds City College, Leeds College of Building and Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College. Other higher education establishments are Leeds College of Art, Leeds College of Music and Northern School of Contemporary Dance. 

Leeds has the fourth largest student population in the country and is served by four universities; the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University and the University of Law. The city was voted the Best UK University Destination by a survey in The Independent newspaper.

Culture

Museums and galleries include:

  • Leeds City Museum in Millennium Square. 
  • Abbey House Museum 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 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. 
  • 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 housed in a former workhouse is a museum of the history of medicine 
  • The Royal Armouries Museum houses the national collection which was transferred from the Tower of London. 
  • Leeds Art Gallery housesing important collections of traditional and contemporary British art

Theatres include:

  • The Grand Theatre where Opera North is based 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.
  • The Phoenix Dance Theatre, and Northern Ballet Theatre housed in a purpose-built dance centre which is the largest space for dance outside of 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 a 13,500 seater stadium is rapidly becoming the city's number one venue for live music, indoor sports and many other events. 
  • O2 Academy,  where concerts are also held 
  • Roundhay Park 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 Sisters of Mercy, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Melanie B of the Spice Girls. 

Events include:

  • Leeds Carnival is Western Europe's oldest West Indian Carnival, and the UK's third largest after the Notting Hill and Nottingham Carnival. 
  • 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, 
  • Walking Festival
  • Victorian Christmas Fayre 
  • 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 has been held in the city every three years since 1963 and has launched the careers of many major concert pianists. 
  • The Leeds International Film Festival is the largest film festival in England outside London 
  • 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
  • The Leeds Festival Fringe is a week long-music festival to showcase local talent in the week prior to Leeds Festival.

There are a large number of pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants, as well as a multitude of venues for live music. 

Sports

The city has teams representing all the major national sports. 

  • Leeds United A.F.C. is the city's main football club. 
  • Leeds Rhinos (Rugby League), 
  • Leeds Carnegie (Rugby Union) and 
  • Yorkshire County Cricket Club are also based in the city, which is the most successful Cricket team in English Domestic Cricket, with over 31 County Championship wins.

The city has a wealth of sports facilities including the Elland Road football stadium, the Headingley Carnegie Stadiums, adjacent stadia world famous for both cricket and rugby league and the John Charles Centre for Sport with an Olympic sized pool in its Aquatics Centre. Other facilities include the Leeds Wall (climbing) and Yeadon Tarn sailing centre. 

Notable landmarks 

The city of Leeds has many landmarks including:

  • Gritstone outcrop of Otley 
  • Chevin and the Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve
  • The city's parks at Roundhay and Temple Newsam
  • Millennium Square, City Square, Park Square and Victoria Gardens 
  • Morley Town Hall, 
  • Leeds Town Hall, 
  • Corn Exchange
  • Leeds City Museum  
  • The two 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, 
  • Kirkstall Abbey display the beauty and grandeur of Cistercian architecture.
  • Leeds Minster(formerly Leeds Parish Church), 
  • St George's Church and 
  • Leeds Cathedral, in the city centre, 
  • The 112 metres tower of Bridgewater Place, also known as The Dalek, is part of a major office and residential development and the region's tallest building
  • 37-storey Sky Plaza to the north of the city centre 
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