Think you know Leeds? Well think again: we present the latest in our definitive A-Z guides to Yorkshire’s towns and cities with a look at Leeds.
A is for ARMLEY - Once home to the world’s largest woollen mill, Armley is one of the oldest industrial suburbs of Leeds but is now most famous for its category B men’s prison. Notorious former inmates include the disgraced architect John Poulson, Britain’s most violent prisoner Charles Bronson and murderer Charles Peace, who was hanged at the gaol in 1879.
B is for BRIDGEWATER PLACE - Known locally as The Dalek, Bridgewater Place is the tallest inhabited building in Yorkshire at a height of 112 metres. Its 32 storeys house car parks, offices and residential units. The design is both controversial and unpopular: it has been nominated for a Cup awarded to ‘buildings so ugly they freeze the heart’ and has been blamed for accelerating the wind around its base, leading to at least one death.
C is for CALL CENTRES - More people are employed in call centres in Leeds than in any other British city, many of them in the telephone banking industry. Financial services, insurance and banking form an important role in the city’s economy.
D is for DAMAGED GOODS - Leeds bands and artists have produced some brilliant music down the years but few songs are possessed of the timeless energy as Damaged Goods, the 1978 debut single from the Gang of Four. Almost 40 years on, Damaged Goods, with its memorable riff, still sounds as fresh and deliciously raw as ever.
E is for ELLISON, GEORGE EDWIN - A veteran of battles at Ypres, Armentières, Lens and Cambria on the Western Front, former Leeds coalminer George Ellison became the last British soldier to be killed in World War I when he was shot near Mons at 9.30 on November 11, 1918, just 90 minutes before the Armistice was delayed.
F is for FILM FESTIVAL - The Leeds International Film Festival is the largest of its kind outside London and this year takes place between November 3 and 17. Last year it welcomed more than 40,000 visitors and showed over 300 films from around the world.
G is for GOLDEN ACRE PARK - Situated between the affluent suburbs of Adel and Bramhope, Golden Acre is a 137-acre council-run public park with a lake rich in wildlife, nature trails and gardens featuring national plant collections.
H is for HEADINGLEY STADIUM - Home to county champions Yorkshire Cricket Club, rugby league champions Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie rugby union club, Headingley is one of the world’s most famous sports stadiums. The cricket ground and rugby pitch are divided by a shared double-sided stand, which is scheduled to be rebuilt in the next few years.
I is for INFIRMARY - Opened in 1869 and influenced by designs drawn up by Florence Nightingale, the Grade I listed Leeds General Infirmary is a large teaching hospital that gained notoriety through its association with disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile, who is alleged to have abused patients in his role as a porter and conducted necrophilic activity on dead bodies in the mortuary.
J is for JETS - the Yorkshire Jets are one of eight netball Superleague teams who play their home fixtures at Leeds Beckett University with a squad largely drawn from players across Yorkshire and the Humber region.
K is for KIRKSTALL ABBEY - Founded in 1152 as a Cistercian monastery, Kirkstall Abbey fell into disrepair during the dissolution and it now a well-preserved and popular ruin which attracts thousands of visitors each year. The picturesque abbey has been painted by JW Turner and has hosted concerts by local band the Kaiser Chiefs.
L is for LAKE DISTRICT - Not the national park in Cumbria, but the pretty and tranquil Washburn Valley which features three reservoir, Fewston, Swinsty and Thurscross that were built in the late 19th century to supply Leeds with fresh water after the River Aire became too polluted. Although not strictly in Leeds, the Washburn valley is a popular getaway-from-it-all spot for people from all over North and West Yorkshire.
M is for MIDDLETON RAILWAY - Founded in 1758 and run by volunteers the last half a century, the Middleton Railway is the world’s oldest continually working public railway. Originally established to carry coal from the local mine, the railway now runs passenger services at weekends and Bank Holidays.
N is for NEW PENNY - Reputed to be the oldest continually running gay pub in the UK, the New Penny has hosted some notable drag queen acts, including Lily Savage, Anna Glypta and Amber Dextrous. The pub’s clientele play an active part in the city’s annual Leeds Pride march.
O is for OPERA NORTH - Leeds has a rich and sophisticated cultural heritage which includes being the home of Opera North, who are based at the Grand Theatre; Northern Ballet Theatre; and Phoenix Dance Theatre.
P is for PRIESTLEY, JOSEPH - Few Leeds-born people have as interesting a CV as Joseph Priestley, a theologian, chemist, Liberal theorist and philosopher who between his birth in 1733 and death in 1804 invented soda water, lay down the structure of English grammar, penned a definitive history of electricity and, most famously, discovered oxygen. The Joseph Priestley College (part of Leeds City College) is named in his honour.
Q is for QUEEN VICTORIA - The long-serving monarch conducted the opening ceremony of the new Leeds Town Hall in 1858. An estimated 600,000 people turned out to greet the Queen, who was accompanied by Prince Albert, and the Princesses Helena and Alice. The Leeds Mercury reported: ‘For a portion of two days through the condescension of Her Majesty this old and busy seat of industry became the seat of the Empire.’
R is for REVIE, DON - The most successful manager in the history of Leeds United, Middlesbrough-born Don Revie took the club to domestic and international honours during a glittering era in charge between 1961 and 1974. He left to manage England and was replaced by Brian Clough, who last just 44 days in the job.
S is for SCARCROFT - This village to the north east of the city on the A58 Wetherby Road is home to Ling Lane, the most exclusive street in Leeds and home to the most expensive real estate. In 2014 police raided a house off Leeds’s own millionaire’s row and discovered a sophisticated cannabis factory.
T is for TOWN HALL - Built in the classical baroque style and designed by a young Hull architect, Cuthbert Broderick, Leeds Town Hall cost £122,000 - almost three times the original estimate and the equivalent of £300m today - at a time when thousands of people in the city were living in slum conditions. The building now hosts civic functions and arts festivals.
U is for UNIVERSITIES - Leeds is home to over 200,000 students, a large number of whom study at the city’s three main seats of learning, the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University. The students enrich the city’s cultural and social diversity. And keep the bars and clubs in Headingley busy.
V is for VARIETIES - The City Varieties music hall is a Grade II listed Victorian theatre that for 30 years hosted the BBC TV series The Good Old Days. Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini and Marie Lloyd all appeared at the venue, which continues to host productions and concerts.
W is for WOOL - Leeds prospered from the 16th century onwards through its expertise as a centre for finishing woollen cloth. The textile industry continued to play an important role in the city’s economy until the 20th century.
X is for XMAS MARKET - A traditional Christkindelmarkt traditional German market is held at Millennium Square every year and draws increasing numbers of visitors to its craft and food stalls, rides and bars, where Bavarian-style bands play classic tunes such as the Dambusters March and Battle of Britain Theme to keep revellers in the mood.
Y is for YORKSHIRE POST - Founded in 1754 as the Leeds Intelligencer, ‘Yorkshire’s national newspaper’ has been based in Leeds and published daily under its present name since 1866. The paper’s biggest ‘scoop’ came in 1936 when it broke the story which led to the abdication of Edward VIII.
Z is for ZANE, ALEX - Television presenter and DJ Alex Zane was a pupil at Boston Spa school before going on to study medicine at University College London but left to pursue his career as an entertainer.