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Leeds ( ) is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, Englandmarker. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, whilst the entire city, that includes the urban, suburban and rural areas, had a population of ( ). Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the wider West Yorkshire Urban Areamarker, which at the 2001 census had a population of 1.5 million, and the Leeds city regionmarker, an economic area with Leeds at its core, had a population of 2.9 million. Leeds is the UK's largest centre for business, legal, and financial services outside Londonmarker,and according to the most recent Office for National Statistics estimates, Leeds is the fastest growing city in the UK.

Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Leeds can trace its recorded history to the 5th century when the Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of "Loidis", the origin of the name Leeds. 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 thirteenth century, through several reincarnations, 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 industrial centre; wool was still 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 sixteenth century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid twentieth century.

The diverse array of landmarks, which includes rural open spaces and impressive buildings, reflects both its industrial past and its many current roles. The multicultural nature of the city is evidenced in the range of religious buildings and cultural festivals present. The internationally acclaimed University of Leedsmarker, together with Leeds Metropolitan Universitymarker and Leeds Trinity University Collegemarker has made the city a major centre of higher education. The student population has stimulated growth of the nightlife in the city and there are ample facilities for sporting and cultural activities, including classical and popular music festivals, and a varied collection of museums.

Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focussed on Leeds and the number of twinning arrangements with towns in other countries and its role in Leeds City Regionmarker demonstrate the city's outward looking and positive attitude to twenty first century global commercial and economic development.



The name Leeds derives from "Loidis", the name given to a forest covering most of the kingdom of Elmet, which existed during the 5th century into the early 7th century. Bede states in the fourteenth chapter of his Historia ecclesiastica, in a discussion of an altar surviving from a church erected by Edwin of Northumbria, that it is located in "...regione quae vocatur Loidis", the region known as Loidis. An inhabitant of Leeds is locally known as a Loiner, a word of uncertain origin.

Economic development

Leeds developed as a market town in the Middle Ages as part of the local agricultural economy. Prior to the Industrial Revolution it had become a co-ordination centre for the making of woollen cloth; with white broadcloth being traded at the Leeds White Cloth Hall. Leeds was handling one sixth of England's export trade in 1770. Growth, initially in textiles, was accelerated by the building of the Aire and Calder Navigationmarker in 1699 and the Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker 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 Manchestermarker and the ports of Liverpoolmarker and Hullmarker giving improved access to international markets. Alongside technological advances and industrial expansion, Leeds retained an interest in trading in agricultural commodities, with the Corn Exchangemarker opening in 1864.

Marshall's Millmarker was one of the first of the many factories that were to be constructed in Leeds from around 1790. In the early years the most significant of the factories were woollen finishing and flax mills; diversifying 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 of Leeds has been shaped by Leeds City Council having the vision of building a '24 hour European city' and a 'capital of the north'. It 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.

Local government

Leeds (parish) population
1881 160,109
1891 177,523
1901 177,920
1911 259,394
1921 269,665
1931 482,809
1941 war #
1951 505,219
1961 510,676
# no census was held due to war
source: UK census
Leeds was a manor and township in the large ancient parish of Leeds St Peter, in the Skyrackmarker wapentake of the West Riding of Yorkshiremarker. The Borough of Leeds was created in 1207, when Maurice Paynel, lord of the manor, granted a charter to a small area within the manor, close to the river crossing, in what is now the city centre. Four centuries later, the inhabitants of Leeds 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 Briggatemarker; with further powers 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 Hallmarker 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 Beestonmarker, Chapel Allertonmarker, Farnleymarker, Headingley cum Burleymarker and Potternewtonmarker from within the borough. In the twentieth century the county borough initiated a series of significant territorial expansions, growing from in 1911 to in 1961. In 1912 the parish and county borough of Leeds absorbed Leeds Rural District, consisting of the parishes of Roundhaymarker and Seacroftmarker; and Shadwellmarker, 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 Aireboroughmarker, Horsforthmarker, Otleymarker, Garforth and Rothwellmarker; and parts of the rural districts of Tadcastermarker, Wetherbymarker and Wharfedalemarker. This area was used to form a new metropolitan district in the county of West Yorkshire; it gained both borough and city status and is known as the City of Leedsmarker. Initially, local government services were provided by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire County Council. However, the county council was abolished in 1986 and the city council absorbed its functions, with some powers passing to organisations such as the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority. From 1988 two run-down and derelict areas close to the city centremarker were designated for regeneration and formed the area of 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.

Suburban growth

1866 map of Leeds
Quarry Hill flats
In 1801, 42% of the population of Leeds lived outside the township, in the wider borough. Cholera outbreaks in 1832 and 1849 caused the borough authorities to address the problems of drainage, sanitation and water supply. Water was originally 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, to the 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 to the south of the river was henceforth 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 19th century, population growth in Hunslet, Armley and Wortley outstripped that of Leeds itself. When pollution became a problem, the wealthier residents left the small industrial conurbation to live in the northerly villages of Headingley, Potternewton and Chapel Allerton; this led to a 50% increase in the population of Headingley and Burley from 1851 to 1861. The middle class flight from the industrial areas also 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 Roundhaymarker.

Two private gas supply companies were taken over by the corporation in 1870 and this new municipal supply was used to provide 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 also purchased by Leeds Corporation and became a municipal supply.

Slum clearance and rebuilding began in Leeds in the Inter-war period when over 18,000 houses were built by the council on 24 estates in places like Cross Gates, Middleton, Gipton, Belle Isle and Halton Moor. The slums of Quarry Hillmarker were replaced by the innovative Quarry Hill flats, which were demolished in 1975. Another 36,000 houses were built by private sector builders, creating the suburbs of Gledhow, Moortown, Alwoodley, Roundhay, Oakwood, Weetwood and Adel. After 1949 a further 30,000 sub-standard houses were demolished by the council to be replaced by a total of 151 medium-rise and high-rise blocks of council flats in estates like Seacroft, Armley Heights, Tinshill and Brackenwood.


Map of Leeds in West Yorkshire
River Aire in Leeds
At (53.799°, -1.549°), and north-northwest of central London, the central area of Leeds is located on the River Airemarker in a narrow section of the Aire Valley, which is in the eastern foothills of the Pennines. The city centre lies at about above sea level while the district ranges from in the far west on the slopes of Ilkley Moormarker to about 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 Birminghammarker), and the second greatest area of any English metropolitan district (after Doncastermarker), extending 15 miles from east to west, and 13 miles from north to south. The northern boundary follows the River Wharfemarker for several miles but crosses the river to include the section 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 from the Yorkshire Dales National Parkmarker, which offers 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. To the north parts are built on older sand 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; they include the area of the city centremarker, the urban sprawl, the administrative boundaries, and the functional region.

Leeds city centremarker is contained within the Leeds Inner Ring Road, formed from parts of the A58 road, A61 road, A64 road, A643 road and the M621 motorway. Briggatemarker, the principal north-south shopping street, is pedestrianised and Queen Victoria Street, a part of the Victoria Quartermarker, is enclosed under a glass roof. Millennium Squaremarker is a significant urban focal point. The Leeds postcode areamarker covers most of the City of Leeds and is almost entirely made up of the Leeds post town. Otley, Wetherby, Tadcaster, Pudsey and Ilkley are separate post towns within the postcode area. Aside from the built up area of Leeds itself, there are a number of suburbs and exurbs within the district.

Weather data for Leeds is summarised as follows:


Urban subdivision

Leeds compared
urban subdivision within
the West Yorkshire urban area
UK Census
Yorks UA
Population 443,247 715,402 1,499,465 49,138,831
White 88.4% 91.9% 85.5% 90.9%
Asian 6.4% 4.5% 11.2% 4.6%
Black 2.2% 1.4% 1.3% 2.3%
Source: Office for National Statistics
At the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001, the Leeds urban subdivision occupied an area of and had a population of 443,247; making it the fourth most populous urban subdivision within England and the fifth largest within the United Kingdom. The population density was 4,066 /km2, slightly higher than the rest of the West Yorkshire Urban Areamarker. It accounts for 20 per cent of the area and 62 per cent of the population of the City of Leeds. The population of the urban subdivision had a 100 to 93.1 female–male ratio. Of those over 16 years old, 39.4 per cent were single (never married) and 35.4 per cent married for the first time. The urban subdivision's 188,890 households included 35 per cent one-person, 27.9 per cent married couples living together, 8.8 per cent were co-habiting couples, and 5.7 per cent single parents with their children. Of those aged 16–74, 32.6 per cent had no academic qualifications, higher than average of England (28.9 per cent). Leeds is the largest component of the West Yorkshire Urban Area and is counted by Eurostat as part of the Leeds-Bradford Larger Urban Zone. The Leeds travel to work area in 2001 included all of the City of Leeds, a northern strip of the City of Bradford, the eastern part of Kirklees, and a section of southern North Yorkshire; it occupies .

Metropolitan district

As of the 2001 UK census, the district had a total population of 715,402. Of the 301,614 households in Leeds, 33.3% were married couples living together, 31.6% were one-person households, 9.0% were co-habiting couples and 9.8% were lone parents, following a similar trend to the rest of England. The population density was and for every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. Of those aged 16–74, 30.9% had no academic qualifications, higher than the 28.9% in all of England. Of the residents, 6.6% were born outside the United Kingdom, lower than the England average of 9.2%.

The majority of people in Leeds identify themselves as Christian. The proportion of Muslims is average for the country. Leeds has the third-largest Jewish community in the United Kingdom, after those of London and Manchester. The areas of Alwoodleymarker and Moortownmarker contain sizeable Jewish populations. 16.8% of Leeds residents in the 2001 census declared themselves as having "no religion", which is broadly in line with the figure for the whole of the UK (also 8.1% "religion not stated"). The crime rate in Leeds is well above the national average, like many other English major cities. In July 2006, the think tank Reform calculated rates of crime for different offences and has related this to populations of major urban areas (defined as towns over 100,000 population). Leeds was 11th in this rating (excluding London boroughs, 23rd including London boroughs). The table below details the population of the current area of the district since 1801, including the percentage change since the last available census data. Leeds is currently the fastest growing city in the UK.

Population growth in City of Leeds since 1801
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 94,421 108,459 137,476 183,015 222,189 249,992 311,197 372,402 433,607 503,493 552,479 606,250 625,854 646,119 668,667 692,003 715,260 739,401 696,732 716,760 715,404
% change +14.87 +26.75 +33.13 +21.40 +12.51 +24.48 +19.67 +16.44 +16.12 +9.73 +9.73 +3.23 +3.24 +3.49 +3.49 +3.36 +3.38 −5.77 +2.87 −0.19
Source: Vision of Britain


City of Leedsmarker is the local government district covering Leeds and the local authority is Leeds City Council. The council is composed of 99 councillors, three for each of the city's ward. Elections are held three years out of four, on the first Thursday of May. One third of the councillors are elected, for a four year term, in each election. In 2004 all seats were up for election due to boundary changes. The council is currently under no overall control, and is run by a coalition of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Morleymarker Borough Independents. The leaders of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats take turns to hold the office of Leader. West Yorkshire does not have a county council, so Leeds City Council is the primary provider of local government services for the city. The district is in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England, and consists of an unparished area and 31 civil parishes. These are the lowest tier of local government and absorb some limited functions from Leeds City Council in their areas. The councils of Horsforthmarker, Morleymarker, Otleymarker and Wetherbymarker are town councils. There are 27 other civil parishes in the district.

The district is represented by eight MP, for the constituencies of Elmetmarker (Colin Burgon, Labour); Leeds Central (Hilary Benn, Labour); Leeds East (George Mudie, Labour); Leeds North Eastmarker (Fabian Hamilton, Labour); Leeds North Westmarker (Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem); Leeds Westmarker (John Battle, Labour); Morley and Rothwellmarker (Colin Challen, Labour); and Pudsey (Paul Truswell, Labour). Various boundary changes will be implemented for the next General Election, when Leeds will be represented by members for seven constituencies and three-fifths of one: Elmet will be replaced by Elmet and Rothwellmarker and Morley by Morley and Outwoodmarker (three Leeds wards and two Wakefieldmarker wards), and the boundaries of the other constituencies will be altered. Leeds is within the Yorkshire and the Humber European constituency, which is represented by two Conservative, one Labour, one UKIP, one Liberal Democrat and one BNP MEP. The voting figures for Leeds in the European Parliament election in June 2009 were: Conservative 22.6%, Labour 21.4%, UKIP 15.9%, Lib Dem 13.8%, BNP 10.0%, Green 9.4%.


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. The city is the location of one of the largest financial centres in England outside London. Tertiary industries such as retail, call centres, offices and media have contributed to a high rate of economic growth. In 2006 GVA for city was recorded at £16.3 billion, with the entire Leeds City Regionmarker generating an economy of £46 billion.

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 middle of the city, including the Merrion Centre, Leeds Shopping Plaza, St John’s Centre, Headrow Centre, the Victoria Quarter, The Light and the Corn Exchange. In total there are approximately 1,000 retail stores, with a combined floorspace of . Of the 40,000 people who work in retailing in Leeds 75% work in places which are not located in the city centre. There are additional shopping centres located in the many villages that became part of the county borough and in the towns that were incorporated in the City of Leeds in 1974.

Office developments, also traditionally located in the inner area, have expanded south of the River Aire and total 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 away.


Leeds displays a variety of natural and built landmarks. Natural landmarks include such diverse sites as the gritstone outcrop of Otley chevinmarker and the Fairburn Ings RSPB reservemarker. The city's parks at Roundhaymarker and Temple Newsammarker 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 Squaremarker, Leeds City Squaremarker, Park Squaremarker and Victoria Gardens. This last is the site of the central city war memorial: there are 42 other war memorials in the suburbs, towns and villages in the district.

The built environment embraces edifices of civic pride like Morley Town Hallmarker and the trio of buildings in Leeds, Leeds Town Hallmarker, Corn Exchangemarker and Leeds City Museummarker by the architect Cuthbert Brodrick. The two startlingly white buildings on the Leeds skyline are the Parkinson building of Leeds University and the Civic Hallmarker, with golden owls adorning the tops of its twin spires. Armley Millsmarker, Tower Worksmarker, with its campanile-inspired towers, and the Egyptian-style Temple Worksmarker hark back to the city's industrial past, while the site and ruins of Kirkstall Abbeymarker display the beauty and grandeur of Cistercian architecture. Notable churches are Leeds Parish Churchmarker, St George's Churchmarker and Leeds Cathedralmarker, in the city centre, and the Church of St John the Baptist, Adel and Bardseymarker Parish Church in quieter locations.

The tower of Bridgewater Placemarker, also known as The Dalek, is part of a major office and residential development and the region's tallest building; it can be seen for miles around. Among other tower blocks the 37-storey Sky Plazamarker to the north of the city centre stands on higher ground so that its is higher than Bridgewater Place. With 37 floors it is reported to be the tallest student residential building in the world.

Elland Roadmarker (football) and Headingley Stadiummarker (cricket and rugby) are well known to sports enthusiasts and the White Rose Centremarker is a well known retail outlet.
The Leeds skyline viewed from the south


Leeds is the starting-point of the A62, A63, A64, A65 and A660 roads, and is also situated on the A58 and A61. The M1 and M62 intersect to its south and the A1 passes to the east. Leeds is one of the principal hubs of the northern motorway network. There is an Inner Ring Road with part motorway status and an Outer Ring Road. Part of the city centre is pedestrianised, and is encircled by the clockwise-only Loop Road.

Leeds City station after the 2002 rebuild
Public transport in the Leeds area is coordinated and developed by West Yorkshire Metro, with service information provided by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Metro. The primary means of public transportation in Leeds are the bus services. The main provider is First Leeds and Arriva Yorkshire serves routes to the south of the city. Leeds also offers a free bus, the FreeCity Bus service which connects the bus station, the train station, the universities and Leeds general infirmary. The service runs through the Leeds Public Transport Box which is an area surrounding the core Leeds shopping district which is limited to just public transport access. There are cross-city services which use bus stops on and around the public transport box and interchanges at Leeds City stationmarker, Boar Lane and Infirmary Street. Leeds City bus station is at Dyer Street and is used by bus services to many towns and cities in Yorkshire, plus a small number of local services. Adjacent to it is the coach station for National Express coach services. Buses out of the city are mainly provided by FirstBus and Arriva Yorkshire. Harrogate & District provides a service to Harrogatemarker and Riponmarker. Keighley & District provides a service to Shipleymarker, Bingleymarker and Keighleymarker. The Yorkshire Coastliner service runs from Leeds to Bridlingtonmarker, Fileymarker,Scarboroughmarker, and Whitbymarker.Stagecoach provides a service to Hullmarker via Goolemarker.

From Leeds City stationmarker at New Station Street, MetroTrains operated by Northern Rail run to many of Leeds' suburbs and onwards to all parts of Leeds City Region.Leeds City station is one of the busiest in England outside London, with over 900 trains and 50,000 passengers passing through every day. It provides national and international connections as well as services to local and regional destinations. The station itself has 17 platforms, making it the largest in England outside London.

Air and sea

Leeds Bradford International Airportmarker is located in Yeadonmarker, about to the north-west of the city centre, and has both charter and scheduled flights to destinations within Europe plus Egyptmarker, Pakistanmarker, Turkeymarker and (for a trial run, in December 2008) to the USA. There are connections to the rest of the world via London Heathrow Airportmarker, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airportmarker and Amsterdam Schiphol Airportmarker. In 2007 Bridgepoint Capital acquired the airport from the consortium of local councils which had previously owned it. They have released plans of their intended expansion of the airport terminal, which is estimated to cost £28 million. There is a direct rail service from Leeds to Manchester Airportmarker, with trains running hourly during the day and every 2–3 hours through the night. The journey time is just under 1½ hours. Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffieldmarker is south-east of Leeds. Leeds has connections by road, rail and coach to Hullmarker, only an hour away, from where it is possible to travel to Rotterdammarker and Zeebruggemarker by ferry services run by P&O Ferries.


Leeds Country Way waymark
The Leeds Country Waymarker is a waymarked circular walk of through the rural outskirts of the city, never more than from City Squaremarker. The Meanwood Valley Trailmarker leads from Woodhouse Moormarker along Meanwood Beckmarker to Golden Acre Parkmarker. The Leeds extension of the Dales Way follows the Meanwood Valley Trail before it branches off to head towards Ilkleymarker and Windermeremarker. Leeds is on the northern section of the Trans Pennine Trailmarker for walkers and cyclists, and the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker is another popular walking route. In addition, there are many parks and public footpaths in both the urban and rural parts of Leeds, and the Ramblers' Association, YHA and other walking organisations offer sociable walks. The Ramblers' Association publish various booklets of walks in and around Leeds.



Leeds Metropolitan University
At the time of the 2001 census Leeds had a population of 183,000 young people aged 0–19 of whom 110,000 were attending local authority schools. In 2008 Education Leeds, a non-profit company owned by Leeds City Council, provided for 220 primary schools, 39 secondary schools and 6 special inclusive learning centres. Under the government Building Schools for the Future initiative, Leeds secured £260m, to transform 13 secondary schools into high achieving, e-confident, inclusive schools. The first three of these schools at Allerton High Schoolmarker, Pudsey Grangefield Schoolmarker and Rodillian Schoolmarker, were opened in September 2008. Because Leeds has a falling birth rate, the council have come under pressure in recent years to reduce the number of school places resulting in the merger and closure of some schools. The city's oldest and largest private school is The Grammar School at Leedsmarker, which was legally re-created in 2005 following the merger of Leeds Grammar Schoolmarker, established 1552, and Leeds Girls' High Schoolmarker, established 1857. Other independent schools in Leeds include faith schools serving the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Further and Higher Education

Parkinson Building, University of Leeds
Further education is provided by Leeds City Collegemarker (formed by a merger in 2009 and having over 60,000 students), Leeds College of Buildingmarker, Joseph Priestley College in Morley and Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form Collegemarker. The city has two universities: the University of Leedsmarker received its charter in 1904 having developed from the Yorkshire College which was founded in 1874 and the Leeds School of Medicine of 1831, and Leeds Metropolitan Universitymarker became a university in 1992 but can trace its roots to the Mechanics Institute of 1824. The University of Leeds has a total of about 31,000 students, of which 21,500 are full-time or sandwich undergraduate degree students, Leeds Metropolitan University has a total of 52,000 students of which 12,000 are full time or sandwich undergraduate degree students and 2,100 full time or sandwich HND students. Other higher education establishments are:Leeds Trinity University Collegemarker with just under 3,000 students, Leeds College of Artmarker, Leeds College of Musicmarker and Northern School of Contemporary Dance. The city was voted the Best UK University Destination by a survey in The Independent newspaper. The combined totals of learners give Leeds one of the largest student populations in the country with of over 250,000 students.



Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd, owned by Johnston Press plc, is based in the city, and produces a daily morning broadsheet, the Yorkshire Post, and an evening paper, the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP). The YEP has a website which includes a series of community pages which focus on specific areas of the city. The Wetherby News covers mainly areas within the north eastern sector of the district, and the Wharfedale & Airedale Observer, published in Ilkleymarker, covers the north west, both appearing weekly. Both of the universities have student newspapers, the weekly Leeds Student from the University of Leeds and the monthly The Met from Leeds Metropolitan University. The Leeds Guide is a fortnightly listings magazine, established in 1997. Free publications include the Leeds Weekly News, produced by Yorkshire Post Newspapers in four geographic versions and distributed to households in the main urban area of the city, and the regional version of Metro which is distributed on buses and at rail stations.

Regional television and radio stations have bases in the city; BBC Television and ITV both have regional studios and broadcasting centres in Leeds. ITV Yorkshire, formerly Yorkshire Television, broadcasts from The Leeds Studiosmarker on Kirkstall Road, which is soon to be closed down. There are a number of independent film production companies, including the not-for-profit cooperative Leeds Animation Workshop, founded in 1978; community video producers Vera Media and several small commercial production companies. BBC Radio Leeds, Radio Aire, Magic 828, Galaxy Yorkshire, Real Radio and Yorkshire Radio broadcast from the city., is based in Leeds University Unionmarker, and regularly hosts outside broadcasts around the city. Many communities within Leeds now have their own local radio stations, such as East Leeds FM and Tempo FM for Wetherbymarker and the surrounding areas.


A new Leeds City Museummarker opened in 2008 in Millennium Squaremarker. Abbey House Museummarker is housed in the former gatehouse of Kirkstall Abbeymarker, and includes walk-through Victorian streets and galleries describing the history of the abbey, childhood, and Victorian Leeds. Armley Mills Industrial Museummarker is housed in what was once the world's largest woollen mill, and includes industrial machinery and railway locomotives. This museum also shows the first known moving pictures in the world which were taken in the city, by Louis Le Prince, of a Roundhay Garden Scenemarker and of Leeds Bridgemarker in 1888. Thwaite Mills Watermill Museummarker is a fully-restored 1820s water-powered mill on the river Airemarker to the east of the city centre. The Thackray Museummarker 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 hospitalmarker. 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 Londonmarker. Leeds Art Gallerymarker reopened in June 2007 after a major renovation, and houses important collections of traditional and contemporary British art. Smaller museums in Leeds include Otley Museummarker, Horsforthmarker Village Museum, the University of Leeds Textile Archive (ULITA), and the museum at Fulneck Moravian Settlementmarker.

Music and theatre

Leeds has the Grand Theatremarker where Opera North is based, the City Varietiesmarker 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 the West Yorkshire Playhousemarker. Leeds is currently the home of the Northern Ballet Theatre and Phoenix Dance.

Many popular musical acts have originated in Leeds, including Soft Cell, Cud, Kaiser Chiefs, The Music, The Rhythm Sisters, the Pigeon Detectives, Your Vegas, Chumbawamba, The Sisters of Mercy and Melanie B, of the Spice Girls. The post-punk band Gang of Four and Grindie band Hadouken! both formed after meeting at Leeds University.

Carnivals and festivals

Leeds carnival procession
Leeds Carnival is Western Europe's oldest West Indian Carnival, and the UK's second largest after Notting Hill Carnivalmarker. It attracts around 100,000 people over 3 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 Parkmarker. The Leeds Asian Festival, formerly the Leeds Mela, is held in Roundhay Park. The Otleymarker 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 Hallmarker 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.


Leeds has a very large student population, resulting in a large number of pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants, as well as a multitude of venues for live music. The full range of music tastes is catered for in Leeds. It includes the original home of the club nights Back 2 Basics and Speedqueen. Morley was the location of techno club The Orbit. Leeds has number of large 'super-clubs' and there is a selection of independent clubs.

Leeds has a well established gay nightlife scene. The Bridge Inn and The New Pennymarker, both on Call Lanemarker, have long been gay night spots. Towards Millennium Squaremarker and the Civic or Northern Quarter, is a growing entertainment district providing for both students and weekend visitors. The square has many bars and restaurants and a large outdoor screen mounted on the side of the Civic Theatre. Millennium Square is a venue for large seasonal events such as a Christmas markets, Gigs and Concerts, citywide parties and the Rhythms of the City Festival. It is adjacent to the Mandela Gardens, which were opened by Nelson Mandela in 2001. A number of public art features, fountains, a canal and greenery can be found here as an oasis amongst the city centre excitement.


The city has a long sporting heritage, with teams representing all the major national sports. Leeds United A.F.C. are 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, amongst numerous other teams playing at both a national and regional level. Leeds United were formed in 1919 and play at the 40,000 capacity Elland Roadmarker in Beestonmarker. Under the management of Don Revie in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the club won the league championship twice, the FA Cup once, the League Cup once and the Fairs Cup twice. In 1992, Howard Wilkinson guided the team to the last-ever First Division championship before the creation of the Premier League, where they remained for 12 years before a financial crisis contributed towards their relegation in 2004. A further relegation led to the team playing in the third tier of the English league for the first time in their history. Leeds Carnegie L.F.C. are the best-placed women's football team in Leeds. They currently compete at the highest level in England, the FA Women's Premier League National Division.

Leeds Rhinos are presently the most successful rugby league team in Leeds. In 2009 they became first club to be Super League champions three seasons running. They play their home games at the Headingley Carnegie Stadiummarker. Hunslet Hawks, based at the John Charles Centre for Sportmarker play in Co-Operative Championship One and, before the Second World War, twice won the League Championship and the Challenge Cup. Bramley Buffaloes and Leeds Akkies are members of the Rugby League Conference. Leeds Carnegie, formerly known as Leeds Tykes, are the foremost rugby union team in Leeds and they play at Headingley Carnegie Stadiummarker. They play in the Guinness Premiership, the top level of domestic rugby union in England. The club won their first trophy in 2005, defeating favourites Bath in the Powergen Cup final. Otley R.U.F.C. are a rugby union club based to the north of the city and also compete in National Division One, whilst Morley R.F.C., located in Morleymarker currently play in National Division Three North.

Leeds City Athletics Club competes in the British Athletics League and UK Women's League as well as the Northern Athletics League. Many athletic clubs serve the youth of the city and enter teams in the country's major running events. Leeds hosts many athletics events itself, most notably the Help the Aged Abbey Dash 10K, the Jane Tomlinson 10K and the Leeds Half Marathon. The city has a wealth of sports facilities including the Elland Roadmarker football stadium, a host stadium during the 1996 European Football Championship; the Headingley Carnegie Stadiumsmarker, adjacent stadia world famous for both cricket and rugby league and the John Charles Centre for Sportmarker with an Olympic sized pool in its Aquatics Centre and includes a multi-use stadium. Other facilities include the Leeds Wall (climbing) and Yeadon Tarn sailing centre. In 1929 the first Ryder Cup of Golf to be held on British soil was competed for at the Moortown Golf club in Leeds and Wetherby has a National Hunt racecoursemarker. In the period 1928 to 1939 speedway racing was staged in Leeds on a track at the greyhound stadium in Elland Road. The track entered a team in the 1931 Northern league.

Hugh O'Neills gaelic football team was founded in Leeds in 1948 and was All-Britain champion in 1982 and 1999, and Yorkshire League champions in 2008. The "LeedsLeedsLeeds" Ultimate (frisbee) team competes nationally and internationally.


St Anne's Cathedral (Roman Catholic), Leeds
The majority of people in Leeds identify themselves as Christian. Leeds does not have a Church of England Cathedral because Leeds is part of the Anglican Diocese of Ripon and Leedsmarker and the Cathedralmarker for this Diocese is in Riponmarker; the Bishop's residence has been in Leeds since 2008. The most important Anglican church is the Leeds Parish Churchmarker. Leeds has a Roman Catholic Cathedralmarker, the Episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leedsmarker. Many other Christian denominations are established in Leeds, including Assembly of God, Baptist, Christian Scientist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Community of Christ, Greek Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Army, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Newfrontiers network, Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventist, Society of Friends , Unitarian, United Reformed, Vineyard, Wesleyan Church, an ecumenical Chinese church, and several independent churches.
Sikh Temple, Chapeltown Road
Leeds Jamia Mosque
The proportion of Muslims in Leeds is average for the country. Mosques can be found throughout the city, serving Muslim communities in Chapeltownmarker, Harehillsmarker, Hyde Parkmarker and parts of Beestonmarker. The largest mosque is Leeds Grand Mosquemarker in Hyde Park. The Sikh community is represented by Gurudwaras (Temples) spread across the city, the largest being in Chapeltownmarker. There is also a colourful religious annual procession, called the Nagar Kirtan, into Millennium Square in the city centre around 13–14 April to celebrate Baisakhi — the Sikh New Year and the birth of the religion. It is estimated that around 3,000 Sikhs in Leeds take part in this annual event.

Leeds has the third-largest Jewish community in the United Kingdom, after those of London and Manchester. The areas of Alwoodleymarker and Moortownmarker contain sizeable Jewish populations. There are eight active synagogues in Leeds. The small Hindu community in Leeds has a temple (mandir) at Hyde Parkmarker. The temple has all the major Hindu deities and is dedicated to the Lord Mahavira of the Jains. Various Buddhist traditions are represented in Leeds, including: FWBO, Soka Gakkai, Theravada, Tibetan and Zen. The Buddhist community (sangha) comes together to celebrate the major festival of Wesak in May. There is also a community of the Bahai Faith in Leeds.

Public services

Water supply and sewerage in Leeds is provided by Yorkshire Water, part of the Kelda Group. Prior to 1973 it had been provided by the Leeds Corporation. Leeds City Council has a target of 11MW of renewable energy from onshore wind by 2010 and an aspirational target of 75MW by 2020. There are currently no operational wind farms in Leeds.The area is policed by the West Yorkshire Police. The force has eight divisions, three of which cover Leeds: AA "North West Leeds Division" covering north and west Leeds with a station at Weetwoodmarker; BA "North East Leeds Division", covering north east Leeds with stations at Stainbeck near Chapel Allertonmarker and Killingbeckmarker; CA "City and Holbeck Division" covering central and south Leeds with stations at Millgarth (City Centre) and Holbeckmarker. Fire and rescue services are provided by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. The fire stations in Leeds are: Cookridgemarker, Giptonmarker, Hunsletmarker, "Leeds" (near city centre, on Kirkstall Road) and Moortownmarker.

Health services are provided by the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds Primary Care Trust and Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust which provides mental health services. Leeds General Infirmarymarker is a listed building with more recent additions and is in the city centre. St James's University Hospital, Leedsmarker, known as "Jimmy's", is to the north east of the city centre and is one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe. Other NHS hospitals are Chapel Allerton Hospitalmarker, Seacroft Hospitalmarker, Wharfedale Hospitalmarker in Otley, and Leeds Dental Institute. The "Pan Leeds Health Portal" provides information on NHS services in Leeds.
West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds site
West Yorkshire Joint Services provides analytical, archaeological, archives, ecology, materials testing and trading standards services in Leeds and the other four districts of West Yorkshire. It was created following the abolition of the county council in 1986 and expanded in 1997, and is funded by the five district councils, pro rata to their population. The Leeds site of the archives service is in the former public library at Sheepscarmarker, Leeds.

Notable people

Lord Mayor

The first mayor of Leeds, in 1662, was Thomas Danby after whom Leeds Thomas Danbymarker college, now merged into Leeds City Collegemarker, was named. A popular Victorian mayor was Henry Rowland Marsden whose statue can be seen near the universitymarker. There were 240 mayors until, in 1897, Queen Victoria gave the city the privilege of having a Lord Mayor, whose full title is "The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of the City of Leeds". The Lord Mayor is elected in May each year from and by the members of Leeds City Council and becomes the Chair of the Council. The Lord Mayor fulfils many ceremonial duties during the year, and chooses a "Lord Mayor's charity" to support. Although the Lord Mayor's remit covers the whole of the City of Leeds metropolitan district, there are town mayors in some of the other towns in this district. A full list of Aldermen (1626–1661), Mayors (1662–1896) and Lord Mayors (from 1897) and biographical information about the current Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor and their consorts is available on the council's website.

Freemen of the city

The position of Honorary Freeman of the city has been granted to 42 people . The first was Colonel John Thomas North in 1889 and the most recent the writer Alan Bennett in 2006. There are three women among the list: the Princess Royal in 1932, Dame Fanny Waterman in 2004 and Jane Tomlinson in 2005.

Freedom of the city

Several military organisations have the Freedom of the City including the HMS Ark Royal, The Rifles and the Yorkshire Regiment. These can occasionally be seen marching in the city centre along with marching military bands.

International relations

Twin towns

The City has several twinning or partnership arrangements:

The city also has "strong contacts" with the following cities "for the purposes of ongoing projects":



Pages cited from works in the bibliography

1. Burt and Grady (1994) p.92
2. Burt and Grady (1994) p.57
3. Fraser (1982) p.143
4. Fraser (1982) p.144
5. Fraser (1982) p.155
6. Fraser (1982) p.144
7. Fraser (1982) p.456
8. Fraser (1982) p.456
9. Fraser (1982) p.459
10. Burt and Grady (1994) p.163
11. Fraser (1982) p.96
12. Fraser (1982) p.57
13. Burt and Grady (1994) p.193
14. Unsworth and Stillwell (2004) p.77
15. Unsworth and Stillwell (2004) p.169
16. Unsworth and Stillwell (2004) p.245
17. Unsworth and Stillwell (2004) p.148
18. Unsworth and Stillwell (2004) p.149
19. Fraser (1982) p.98
20. Fraser (1982) p.98

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