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Leeds Online

Leeds is a city in the metropolitan borough of the City of Leeds in West Yorkshire in the north of England. The River Aire runs through the city.

In 1974 the former county borough of Leeds was merged with the towns of Wetherby, Morley, Otley, Pudsey, and other surrounding areas to form a metropolitan borough — the city status of the county borough being conferred on the new metropolitan borough. Somewhat confusingly therefore, the City of Leeds contains a number of towns including the former county borough of Leeds, which can be thought of as Leeds proper. For the purposes of this article Leeds refers to the city as it was prior to 1974 as to distinguish it from the metropolitan borough called the City of Leeds. According to the 2001 UK census the core of Leeds had a population of 429,243 while the City of Leeds had a population of 726,939 and is one of England's core cities.

An inhabitant of Leeds is locally known as a Loiner, a word derived from the 'Loins' (or lanes) around Briggate in the town's centre, although the term is rarely used or understood. The mock-classical adjectives Leodensian and Leodiensian are sometimes used by some local sports clubs.

1 History
2 Industry and economy
3 Development
4 Culture
4.1 Sport
4.2 Media
4.3 Museums and the arts
4.4 Shopping
4.5 Music
4.6 Nightlife
5 Famous people from Leeds
6 Bands originating in Leeds
7 Artists based in Leeds
8 Education
9 Twin cities
10 References
11 External links

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An 1866 map of Leeds.Leeds was an agricultural market town in the Middle Ages, and received its first charter in 1207. In the Tudor period Leeds was mainly a merchant town manufacturing woollen cloths and trading with Europe via the Humber estuary. At one point nearly half of England's total export passed through Leeds. The city's industrial growth was catalysed by the introduction of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1816 and the railway in 1848. The name "Leeds" came from "Leodis", which was a name recorded in Anglo-Saxon sources for a Celtic kingdom that survived in the area for a while after the Anglo-Saxon invasion.

Industry and economy

Leeds Town Hall - Victorian civic confidence Leeds has a diverse economy with the service sector now dominating over the city's manufacturing industries. It has in the past been served well by its canal, and today by its rail network at Leeds station, from where MetroTrains operate to all parts of West Yorkshire and other operators to the rest of the country. Leeds Station is the busiest in the UK, outside London. With the A1(M), M1 and M62 intersecting at Leeds, it is the principal northern hub of the motorway network. Leeds Bradford International Airport is located to the north-west of the city and has scheduled flights to destinations within the U.K and Europe, although competition from the newly opened Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield nearby may lead to a reduction in the airport's traffic. The city had plans for a tram network, however the council could not afford to build the tram line without external funding. Leeds remains the largest city in the EU without a mass transit system.

Briggate, LeedsThese good transport links have been a major factor contributing to the growth of Leeds, and have led to the city becoming a major centre for distribution. Retail is another major service and employer in the city centre, with a retail economy which has experienced a recent boom resulting in several new shops. Briggate is one of Leeds' main shopping streets, with the Victoria Quarter and Harvey Nichols. The city centre also includes Europe's largest indoor market, and over 8 shopping centres. The Eastgate/Harewood Quarter and Trinity Qtr. will re-establish Leeds as one of Europe's top shopping centres.

Although, like the rest of the North of England, Leeds had its fair share of tough economic times during the 1970s and 1980s, it bounced back quickly by investing heavily in communications links in advance of the Internet. This helped it (along with Birmingham and Glasgow) become one of the major hubs for call-centres in the late 20th century, particularly for service-oriented companies. Many outlying towns formerly relying on mining and heavy industry, found financial salvation in the 'reliable' sounding Yorkshire accent. However, many of these large employers are now outsourcing many of these jobs to places like Bangalore in India, where staff costs are considerably lower.

Leeds has one of the UK's strongest economies, with unemployment at a record low in Leeds and with the largest media, financial and legal sectors outside London.

In recent times Leeds has seen hundreds of new developments. Some large schemes include:

Holbeck Urban Village regeneration
Clarence Dock (Completion 2007)
Quarry Hill Cultural Quarter
Leeds Metropolitan University Rebuilding & Partial Relocation
Millennium Square
Leeds Station modernization
Leeds Arena
St. James' University Hospital Oncology wing (Jimmy's)
Harewood/Eastgate shopping quarters (commence Late 2006/Early 2007)
Trinity Shopping Quarter (commence 2006)
South Leeds Sport Centre
Leeds Bradford International Airport expansion
High rise schemes are making a much bigger mark on Leeds' skyline however, with 16 skyscrapers under construction or proposed, that are taller than West Riding House; Leeds' tallest building. The UK's tallest building outside of London, Venture Tower, is also proposed in Leeds.

Bridgewater Place (Bridgewater Place Website) (construction)
The Plaza (construction)
Venture Tower 1 & 2 (advanced planning)
Criterion Place 1 & 2 (advanced planning)
The Gateway (The Gateway Website)(construction)
Mayfair (advanced planning)
Kite Tower
Leeds University
Wade Lane Apartments
Green Bank (GreenBank Website)(advanced planning)
Clarence House (construction)
Sweet Street (advanced planning)
Marshall Street (planning)
Monkbridge Forge (planning)
West Central


The city has a strong sporting heritage, with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Leeds Rhinos (the Rugby League team) and Leeds Tykes (the Rugby Union team) playing at Headingley Stadium, and Leeds United F.C. playing at Elland Road. Leeds United had a turbulent 2004, narrowly avoiding insolvency, and dropped from the Premier League into The Championship. They finished 14th during the 2004/2005 season.

Leeds Rhinos were crowned Super League champions on 16 October 2004 after defeating arch rivals Bradford Bulls 16-8 at Old Trafford. Unfortunately they lost in 2005.

Leeds Tykes won their first ever trophy in 2005 with battling performance to defeat favourites Bath in the PowerGen Cup final.

Leeds City AC is amongst the biggest and most successful athletics clubs in the North of England and has had the most successful mens harriers section in the country in the 21st century. Since the turn of the millenium the team has never been out of the top 4 in the National Cross Country Championships, winning in 2003 and 2006. In 2006 the team achieved the 'Grand Slam' of wins - Yorkshire, North of England and English National Champions.

Leeds has bases for some media activities for the UK. 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, as well as other publications such as Leeds Express.

Regional television and radio stations also have bases in the town; BBC Television and Yorkshire Television both have studios and broadcasting centres in Leeds, but there is concern over the future of regional independent television with the consolidation of Independent Television franchises in the UK. BBC North, Radio Aire, Magic 828, Galaxy 105 and Real Radio all broadcast from the city. In the 1980s, pirate radio stations including Rapid City Radio (RCR), amongst other shorter-lived stations broadcasting a mainly reggae playlist from Chapeltown, later diversifying into hip hop and house. Later, Dream FM was one of the biggest pirate radio stations in the country, but folded soon after getting a license to operate legally. Leeds is the UK's largest media city, outside London. This is likely to change, however, as the BBC is to move a number of departments and staff to Manchester.

In the late 1990s dot-com boom, Leeds became one of the key hubs in the emerging new media sector - companies such as Freeserve, Energis, Sportal and Ananova emerged to dominate the UK internet industry, with Freeserve and Ananova going on to become part of Wanadoo and Orange within France Télécom. The City's Holbeck area is now home to the 'internet quarter' - an urban village with infrastructure and facilities for digital media and creative companies; at its heart is the Round Foundry media centre facility. Now, over 33% of the UK's internet traffic goes through Leeds, making it the UK's largest internet city.

Museums and the arts
Leeds has a large number of museums, being the home of the Royal Armouries Museum (opened in 1996 when the collection was transferred from the Tower of London), the Leeds City Museum which is dedicated to the history of Yorkshire, the Thackray's Medical Museum and the Leeds City Art Gallery. Leeds also boasts the Grand Theatre (where Opera North is based), the City Varieties music hall (which has hosted performances by Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini) and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

The Leeds Festival takes place every year in Bramham Park, having moved from Temple Newsam after pressure from some local residents. It features some of the biggest names in rock and indie music. The city is home to the Leeds International Piano Competition, held every three years since 1963, which has launched the careers of many major concert pianists. There is also the Leeds International Concert Season, the largest local authority music programme of any UK city outside London.

The first moving pictures were taken in the city, by Louis Le Prince, of Leeds Bridge in 1888.

Temple Newsam House, Harewood House and the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, which dates from the 12th century, are on the outskirts of the city.


Leeds has become known as the Knightsbridge of the North.The diverse range of shopping, from individual one-off boutiques to large department stores, including Harvey Nichols, has really put Leeds on the map for retail therapy.

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Though not as prolific as its neighbour Liverpool across the Pennines, or indeed Sheffield in South Yorkshire, Leeds has still produced some notable bands. The Mekons and the influential Gang of Four came out of the 1970s punk movement, whilst in the early to mid 1980s the city was home to a large goth scene and more or less famous local bands including Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Sisters of Mercy and Salvation (which was formed by Sisters of Mercy roadies). The avant-garde art scene centred around Leeds Metropolitan University's (then Leeds Polytechnic) Fine Art course led to the formation of early 80s electronic pioneers Soft Cell. Later 1980s and 1990s rock bands include The Wedding Present, Chumbawumba and Cud.

The early eighties is also noted for Punk bands the Abrasive Wheels, the Underdogs and the Expelled who all shared the same record label - Riot City - in Bristol.

More recent times have seen Leeds based bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, The Music, Black Wire, Duels, ¡Forward, Russia!, Parisman, This Et Al and singer Corinne Bailey Rae come to national prominence.

Like in most major northern cities, house music had a big impact on Leeds when it arrived in the late 1980s. Early house nights included Downbeat at the Warehouse, Meltdown at the Astoria in Roundhay, and Joy and Kaos at various temporary venues, along with a thriving Shebeen or "Blues" scene in Chapeltown. Along with Sheffield and Bradford, Leeds was a centre for the Yorkshire Bleeps and Bass scene in 1989-1990, with influential local bands such as LFO, Nightmares on Wax, Ital Rockers, Unit 93 and Juno on Sheffield's Warp Records and Leeds' Bassic Records.

This early underground scene developed into the Leeds club scene of the 1990s, when for a while Leeds held the title of Britain's clubbing capital. Both Back to Basics and mixed gay night Vague enjoyed the title of best club in Britain at different points in the decade, whilst The Orbit in Morley was an internationally recognised techno mecca. Sadly this venue has now been converted into a restaurant.

Leeds is very well-known for its current DIY underground music scene, encompassing the genres of hardcore, post-hardcore, post-punk, and noise rock among others. There is a vibrant and active community based around the DIY ethic, supported in part by Cops and Robbers, a monthly guide to DIY events in and around Leeds.

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Majestyk, one of Leeds' many nightclubsLeeds has a very large student population and boasts a large number of bars and nightclubs, as well as venues for live bands such as the Cockpit, The New Roscoe, and Joseph's Well, which combine to generate a vibrant nightlife. There are also a number of smaller venues which cater for underground and DIY gigs, such as The Brudenell Social Club.

Leeds has gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the UK's favourite clubbing destinations. Often described as the UK's clubbing capital, Leeds is best known as the home of pioneering club nights Back to Basics and Speedqueen.

Complete listings and reviews of bars, pubs and nightclubs in Leeds can be found online at Leeds City Guide, an extensive online venue guide. Live music events are listed on Leeds Gig Guide, and Cops and Robbers.

In recent years a Gay nightlife scene has developed. The Bridge Inn and The New Penny, both on Call Lane, have long been Gay night spots. Queens Court offers a similar experience to its London counterpart Rupert Street. Recent additions such as Bar Fibre, on Lower Briggate and Mission offer more contemporary 'straight friendly' environments. During the summer months the secluded courtyard that lies between Bar Fibre and Queens Court is a beer garden. Recently opened clubs include the Velvet Underground and The Warehouse, home of the Saturday club night Speedqueen.

Towards Millennium Square and the Civic or Northern Quarter, is the newly developing entertainment district thriving on students. Recently, the Hard Rock Café and TigerTiger have opened here, and various upper class restauarants have opened in the Northern Quarter. Millennium Square bursts into life during the night with its many bars (such as Cocoon, Revolution and Haha!, to name but a few), and a big screen mounted on the Civic Theatre completes the Quarter. Millennium Square plays host to many large events such as Earth From The Air, Icecube (a large outdoor ice rink), Christmas markets, gigs, citywide parties and the world famous rhythms of the city festival. Millennium Square is adjacent to the Mandela Gardens, which Nelson Mandela opened 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.

Leeds is home to a number of 'super-clubs' including Creation, Evolution, Majestyk and Oceana. Life Bar, Tiger Tiger and Discotheque by Gatecrasher are also large clubs.

Famous people from Leeds
Nigel Rawe - International Fruitmeister last 'scene' in Den Haag.
Sir Jimmy Savile - Best known for presenting Jim'll Fix It and Top of the Pops. Now living in Roundhay.
Mel B (from the Spice Girls)
Alan Smith (Former Leeds United striker)
Chris Moyles - BBC Radio 1 DJ.
Julian Barratt - actor and musician best known for his character Howard Moon in the cult comedy series The Mighty Boosh
Alan Bennett - performer in Beyond the Fringe and writer of works such as The Madness of King George
Barbara Taylor Bradford - novelist
Elizabeth Dawn (real name Sylvia Butterfield) best-known for her character Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street
Gaynor Faye - known for her character in Coronation Street and later Fat Friends
Phil May - famous cartoonist
Kay Mellor - writer of TV drama including Band of Gold
Tony Harrison (b.1937 - ) - Poet
Barry Cryer - Comedian
Matthew Lewis - known for his role as Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films
Malcolm McDowell - played the wizard in Just Visiting, starred in A Clockwork Orange and has appeared in Star Trek films
Peter O'Toole - actor famous for his role in Lawrence of Arabia
Vic Reeves - known for his long time on screen partnership with fellow comedian Bob Mortimer
Tom Wilkinson - actor who has appeared in such films as Batman Begins, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Full Monty
Ernie Wise - (real name Ernest Wiseman) of the comedy duo Morecambe and Wise
John Craven - presenter of John Craven's Newsround (now known as Newsround)
Caryl Phillips - a leading Black British author/playwright
Nell McAndrew - an internationally famous model.
Verbalicous - successful European hip-hop artist.
Alan Titchmarsh - celebrity gardener.
Jan Fletcher - international Business Woman
Arthur Ransome - journalist and children's author
Alfred Austin - poet laureate
Leigh Francis aka Avid Merrion, creator of the TV show Bo' Selecta!
Beryl Burton - record-breaking cyclist
Vesta Victoria - music hall star
Helen Fielding - novelist, Bridget Jones Diary
Jeremy Paxman - TV presenter
Paul Hunter - snooker player
Mark Ballard - Green Politician
Bands originating in Leeds
Abrasive Wheels
Black Wire
Christie - Jeff Christie born in Leeds
Embrace - Actually from Brighouse, near Huddersfield but often talked about as a 'Leeds band'
¡Forward, Russia!
Gang of Four
Girls At Our Best
Kaiser Chiefs - Ricky Wilson went to Leeds Grammar School and joined with the rest later
The Music - went to or met at Brigshaw High School
Pale Saints
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
Send More Paramedics
Soft Cell
The Attic Project
The Expelled
The Underdogs
The Sisters Of Mercy
This Et Al
Utah Saints
The Wedding Present

Artists based in Leeds
Axis is an online database listing practising artists within the UK. It was started as a Leeds Metropolitan University project and over the last 15 years has grown to be the Internet based resource for finding artists for commissions.

Kerry Harker - Visit KerryHarker.com
Emma Bolland
Tony Quinn (Photographer) - Images of Leeds Photographer based in Leeds specialising in images of the changing face of the City.
Derek Horton (writer) - Visit /seconds.
Peter David Hamilton - Artist On Axis
James Wakefield (photographer) - Visit Urban Exposure

Education Leeds has responsibility for statutory education for young people in the City.

Leeds has two universities, the University of Leeds, with around 31,500 full-time students (and a further 52,000 on short courses), and Leeds Metropolitan University with around 26,000 (according to UCAS; the LMU website claims 37,000) as well as various higher education colleges, including Trinity & All Saints' College accredited by the University of Leeds, giving it one of the largest student populations in the country. The main campuses of both universities are near the city centre, as is that of the similarly revered College of Art.

Leeds Grammar School, situated on the outskirts of the city at Alwoodley Gates and dating back to 1552, is the principal public school for boys.

Leeds Girls' High School is an independent, selective school for girls, located in Headingley and consistently ranked highly in education tables.

Allerton High School was started in 1901.

Morley High School was founded as a grammar school in 1907, but became became a mixed comprehensive in 1975.

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