The northern city of Leeds is one of those places once visited never forgotten.
It has developed to become one of the most cosmopolitan, fast-growing, innovative and prosperous cities in the UK.
Like many northern towns and cities, people who live in Leeds are incredibly friendly to newcomers, whether that be day trippers or those moving on a permanent basis.
The city is home to around 38,000 students from over 170 countries across the globe giving it a really vibrant multicultural vibe.
There is much to discover in and about Leeds.
Shopping is a big deal here with several great retail areas to explore.
Plus, the culinary scene is diverse with a huge assortment of restaurants catering to various tastes.
Perhaps one of the most attractive things about Leeds and why so many students have opted to study here is that compared to some other major UK cities like London, the cost of living is generally more affordable, including housing costs.
Leeds has its fair share of curious and interesting facts and trivia. Here are some intriguing tidbits about Leeds you may or may not already be aware of.
Pretty much all our larger cities in the UK have been given a number of alternate names over the years, and Leeds is no exception.
At that time, it was a forested area of the Celtic kingdom of Elmet.
2. The West Yorkshire Metropolis
This term reflects Leed’s status as the largest city in West Yorkshire and its economic and cultural significance in the region.
3. The Motorway City of the 1970s
Leeds has excellent travel links and due to the many major roads in the region it is often referred to as this nickname.
4. “Mighty Whites”
Leeds United Football team play in an all-white kit, hence the nickname.
People who reside in Leeds are known locally by this nickname, this is also used when referring to the local dialect. The most popular theory for this name is that it could stem from the name Loidis, which was used in the 8th century to refer to the district around modern-day Leeds.
These nicknames and terms highlight various aspects of Leeds’s identity, from its sports culture to its historical and economic significance.
Interesting Historical Facts
Here are some key historical facts about the city:
6. Leeds is a City
Classed as a borough, Leeds was granted its city status back in 1893.
7. The Royal Armouries Museum
The Royal Armouries Museum has more than 8,500 objects on display, spanning a huge 3,000 years of armour and weaponry across the globe.
8. Wool Capital of the World
Sometimes referred to as the “wool capital” of the world, Leeds played a very important role during the Industrial Revolution.
9. Home to the oldest Working Railway
Said to be the oldest working railway in the world, Middleton Railway was established in 1758.
10. The City Was Once an Export Giant
During the 1770s, Leeds handled one-sixth of England’s export trade.
11. Famous Canal System
The growth and development of the Aire and Calder Navigation in 1699 and later in 1816, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal were vital for trade links in and out of the city.
12. Home of Willam Wilberforce
William Wilberforce a British politician began his career in 1780.
13. Leeds Town Hall Has an Interesting Story
In 1852, aged 29, Cuthbert Brodrick entered and won a competition for the design of Leeds Town Hall.
14. Home of Europe’s oldest Caribbean Carnival
Celebrated annually in Leeds since 1967 the West Indian Carnival, held in Potternewton Park is Europe’s oldest Caribbean carnival.
15. Leeds University
Leeds University was founded in 1904 and has a rich academic history.
16. Leeds Bridge
One of the earliest stone bridges to be built in the city the iconic Leeds Bridge was completed in 1738.
17. Leeds Civic Hall Has a Quirky Feature
Overlooking Millennium Square, Leeds Civic Hall along with its unusual clock which runs anti-clockwise, opened in 1933.
18. Leeds Library
Founded in 1768, Leeds Library is one of the oldest subscription libraries in the UK and has a unique historical collection of books.
19. The Busiest Station in the North
The city’s railway station is, alongside Manchester Piccadilly, the busiest of its kind in Northern England.
20. Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House
Among the city’s long-established cultural institutions are the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House, which opened in 1878.
21. A Green City
As much as 65% of the city is designated as a green belt including parks, woodlands, farmland, and other open spaces, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation.
22. Leeds is Bigger than You May Think
The city covers a total area of 552 square kilometres (213 square miles).
23. Ilkley Moor is the Highest Point in the City
At its highest point, Leeds reaches 1,115 feet at its northwestern edge on the eastern slopes of Rombalds Moor, better known as Ilkley Moor.
24. The Aire Valley
Leeds city centre lies in a narrow section of the Aire Valley at about 206 feet (63 m) above sea level.
25. A Soft Water City
Due to coal and iron ore deposits in the locality, residents experience a plentiful supply of soft water from the river Aire’s tributaries.
26. A Long Way from London
The city is located 270 kilometres (170 miles) north-northwest of London, on the valley of the River Aire in the eastern foothills of the Pennines.
Famous People of Leeds
Here are some notable people associated with Leeds:
27. JRR Tolkien
The author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was a reader and professor at the University of Leeds.
28. Barbara Taylor Bradford
The best-selling British-American novelist, Taylor Bradford’s works have sold more than 92 million copies worldwide in more than 90 countries and 40 languages.
29. Mel B
Born Melanie Janine Brown, Mel B was one of the 1990’s girl band The Spice Girls. Her nickname was Scary Spice.
30. Daisy Campbell
The actress who portrays Amelia Spencer in Emmerdale was born in Methley, Leeds.
31. Thomas Chippendale
The cabinet maker was from Farnley close to Leeds born in 1718. One of his pieces sold in 2008 for £2,729,250.
32. Damien Hirst
The artist, entrepreneur, and art collector (Born in Bristol, and raised in Leeds)
33. Gabby Logan
Born in Leeds in 1973 now a TV sports presenter; daughter of Terry Yorath, former Leeds Utd footballer and Wales Manager.
34. Chris Moyles
The English radio and television presenter, author and presenter was born in the city on 22 February 1974.
35. Peter O’Toole
This acclaimed stage and screen actor was born at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds. He was the recipient of four Golden Globe Awards, one BAFTA Award for Best British Actor and one Primetime Emmy Award.
36. Jeremy Paxman
Born 11 May 1950 an English retired broadcaster, journalist, author, and television presenter was born in Leeds.
37. Harry Ramsden
Founder of Harry Ramsden’s Fish and Chips shops. Said to be “Britain’s longest-established restaurant chain” having been in business since 1888.
38. Liz Truss
The former Conservative prime minister of the United Kingdom, grew up in Leeds and attended Roundhay School.
Leeds Incredible Inventions
The city has plenty to boast about including a number of ingenious inventions:
39. The “Little Nipper” Mouse Trap
This mouse trap was invented by James Henry Atkinson, an ironmonger from Leeds (born 1849). He filed applications for patents on several different inventions, but the one he is most famous for is his spring-loaded mousetrap (Patent reference: GB 13277 of 1899).
40. Jelly Tots
The famous sweets came into existence by mistake thanks to the unintentional ingenuity of Dr. Brian Boffey, a budding research scientist from Horsforth employed by Rowntree, based in York.
41. The Discovery of Crystal Structures
Nobel Prize winners in 1915, father and son team William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg discovered the structure of crystals, using X-rays. A discovery that paved the way for future scientists to dig deeper into the makeup of other entities including DNA.
42. The Home of Grand Theft Auto
The gaming company Rockstar created the iconic game series Grand Theft Auto in their Leeds-based office.
43. The Home of Monopoly
Waddington’s, the well-known board game manufacturer, was based in Leeds, England. Founded by John Waddington and Wilson Barratt in the 19th century it became famous for producing a wide range of board games, including Monopoly, Cluedo, and many others.
44. Automated Traffic Lights
Leeds was the first city to install a fully automated traffic light system, way back in 1928.
45. The First Ever Selfie
Washington Teasdale, an inventor, is often credited with taking one of the world’s earliest selfies in the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, England. This historic self-portrait was captured in the mid-1880s and is considered a remarkable early example of self-photography.
46. Eddystone Lighthouse
John Smeaton a civil engineer was born on 8 June 1724 in Austhorpe, Leeds. He was responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbours, and lighthouses. Most notably Smeaton designed the third Eddystone Lighthouse (1755–59).
Assorted Facts About Leeds
47. Tourist Hotspot
Around 28 million visitors spend time in Leeds annually generating billions for the economy.
Leeds is a diverse city with over 75 ethnic groups, and with ethnic minorities representing just under 11.6% of the total population
49. A Hub for Healthcare
Leeds has become a hub of public-sector health bodies. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England, the Care Quality Commission, NHS Digital, and Public Health England all have large offices in Leeds.
50. Europe’s Largest Teaching Hospital
Europe’s largest teaching hospital is also based in Leeds, and is home to the Yorkshire Cancer Centre, the largest of its kind in Europe
51. Market Charter
It gained its first market charter from Maurice de Gant as far back as 1207.
52. Roundhay Park
Roundhay Park is one of the biggest city parks in Europe. It covers more than 280 hectares (700 acres) of parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens which are owned by Leeds City Council. The park is one of the most popular attractions in Leeds, about a million people visit each year.
53. Back-to-back Houses
In 1918, 70% of people in Leeds were living in back-to-back houses. Most of them were two-room houses with shared toilets built in the 19th Century.
54. The Home of Marks & Spencer
Kirkgate Market in Leeds is where Michael Marks first opened his Penny Bazaar (1884) which was to lead, ultimately, to the foundation of Marks & Spencer, in 1890
55. A Booming Population
Between 1801 and 1831, in just 30 years the population of Leeds almost doubled from 94,421 to 183,015. Today’s statistics put the population at over 715,000!
56. 3rd Largest Jewish Community in the UK
Leeds has the third-largest Jewish community in the United Kingdom, after those of London and Manchester.
57. Twin Cities
Leeds is twinned with nine countries, Brno, Czech Republic, Lille, France, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Louisville, USA, Dortmund and Siegen Germany, Durban in SA, Ulan Bator, Mongolia and Hangzhou, China.
Moving to Leeds?
We hope you enjoyed these 57 facts about Leeds!
If you are looking to relocate, moving to Leeds is a good choice.
Leeds offers buyers a range of different properties sure to meet all the requirements of all buyers.
It also provides its residents with culture and community, both great advantages for those considering a move.
When you are ready to move to Leeds, you may have quite a bit to do.
It pays to use a removal company with a proven track record of excellence.
A good removal company will make all the difference to your move experience.
White & Company have been moving people around the UK and abroad since 1871.
Not all movers were created equal. We are founder members of BAR (British Association of Removers).
Whether you are moving anywhere in the UK or to another country, choosing a BAR Member gives you the peace of mind that only comes from using a reputable, professional, and financially protected remover.
All you need to do is get in contact with us. There are several ways to do this. You can interact with our friendly online chatbot or use our simple online fast quotation form via our website.
Alternatively, give us a call, and we can arrange for a free-of-charge, no-obligation removal survey to be conducted online or at your home.
It is never too early to get a quote. We look forward to speaking with you.
Max is a seasoned writer and blogger in the real estate and home moving sectors, as well as a knowledgeable source of information for expatriates living and working abroad. His detailed insights have helped thousands of people move and live abroad with greater simplicity and ease.