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The Northern Powerhouse
Leeds is a city in the county of West Yorkshire, England. The city is part of the West Yorkshire Built-up Area of 1.7 million inhabitants, and is a northern hub for SEO to rival Manchester.
On This Page
Part of a series on
The Northern Powerhouse
Leeds, once known as the ‘Motorway City,’ is a city located in the northern English county of Yorkshire. It is the largest city in the county and is considered a cultural, financial, and commercial hub. Located in West Yorkshire, the city is one of the largest in the UK, with excellent transport links across the north and south, including up into Scotland and down towards London.
As part of the Northern Powerhouse, Leeds is one of the most influential cities in the UK, with a huge focus on its digital industries, including SEO, PPC and other forms of digital marketing. With its history of innovation and technology, it’s really no surprise that Leeds remains one of the most popular spots in the country to open up a digital business.
The city derives its name from ‘Loidis,’ a forested area in the Celtic kingdom of Elmet. It began as a Saxon village with a population of 200 people, a relatively large number at the time.
In 1207, there was a significant increase in towns, trade, and commerce. Lord of the Manor, Maurice De Gant, established a new settlement. It had new houses west of the village that were divided into plots for further construction. As a result, the town began to thrive and gave rise to butchers, blacksmiths, and carpenters.
Around this time, the leading industry in Leeds was wool production. Annual markets attracted many visitors from across the county. Despite this, a large portion of the population still made a living from farming.
Leeds experienced significant growth between 1500 to 1800. The first grammar school was founded in 1552. The population had reached around 3000 people in the middle of the 17th century. But this economic boom was hampered by cholera outbreaks.
Wool manufacturing was still a large part of the economy in the 18th century. Other industries such as pottery and brick-making had arrived and improved the economy.
In the early 19th century, the Leeds to Liverpool canal was built. Two cholera epidemics killed around 2700 people, in 1832 and 1849. Both Leeds Beckett University and Leeds United were established during this era.
In 1901, the population sat at around 178,000 and three years later in 1904, Leeds University was founded. The first cinema and council houses were built in Leeds in the 20th century. Some structures subsequently required rebuilding due to the aftermath of World War II.
The Leeds City Council fostered sizeable growth around this time. It had employed around 19,000 people by 1946. A great number of factories existed in the south and east regions of the area. Tourism sustained the city’s growth and made it into what it is today.
Leeds currently has very diverse industries that it contributes to. It is also known as a regional centre for insurance and similar financial services. Like many cities in the Northern Powerhouse, Leeds is also extremely well known for its digital marketing services, including paid online advertising, search engine optimisation and more.
Yorkshire’s unofficial capital is popular among tourists. It has over 200 parks and many monuments dating back to the 18th century. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists are drawn to its unique aesthetic, with a brilliant combination of newer buildings amongst older properties, repurposed factories and more.
Millennium Square is a social hub encircled by various landmarks. It hosts special events such as a Christmas market and the screening of sporting events.
Leeds Millennium Square, courtesy of millsqleeds.com.
The Leeds Victoria Quarter is one of several grand shopping arcades around the city. The centre has luxury outlets such as Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, and Ted Baker.
The Royal Armouries Museum houses military hardware of historical significance. The collection goes as far back as medieval swords and armours up to current technology.
Entry is free at the museum, and it also features an arena in which you can see live re-enactments of famous battles.
Emmerdale is British soap opera set in a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales. The defunct studio in Leeds offers visitors an 80-minute guided tour to explore the set.
The Corn Exchange is another example of Victorian-era construction which has been repurposed. The building functions as a farmers’ market with independent stores and high-profile brands.
This monument tells the story of medical technology development. It is alleged to be one of the most haunted buildings in Leeds. The building opens its doors on special nights for ghost enthusiasts.
The Kirkgate Market is housed in a historical building in the Leeds city centre. It contains over 200 stalls which include fresh produce, fashion, and jewellery vendors.
Call Lane is best known for being a hub of nightlife. The streets are lined with many bars and clubs that play a wide selection of music.
These two stretches of roadway offer pedestrians various shopping and cultural attractions. Briggate, in particular, has a unique architectural structure which holds great photographic potential.
The Harewood House is an 18th-century building which took 30 years to construct. The structure is used to keep a collection of fine art but also serves as a playground, farm, and bird garden.
The Leeds-Liverpool Canal functioned as a resource trading site in the 19th century. The walkway alongside the canal is primarily used for fishing and bike rides. It remains one of the busiest canals in the country, with thousands of canal boats travelling along its many locks and lifts every year.
The Leeds Industrial Museum gives visitors a recounting of the city’s industrial conquests. The museum houses artefacts from several industries, including printing presses and steam locomotives. The Industrial Museum regularly holds unique exhibits, ranging from excursions into the city on vintage bus tours to urban nature exploration and many more.
The Temple Newsam House is a 40-room mansion and the birthplace of Lord Darnley. The mansion has been restored to give tourists an authentic historical experience.
Trinity Leeds has over 120 stores and spots such as Trinity Kitchen and The Alchemist.
Elland Road is the home of the football club Leeds United. For those who are unable to watch a game there, they offer an extensive tour as an alternative.
With a population of approximately 455,000, Leeds is one of the top-10 most populated cities in the UK. The urban population density is 9,450 people per square kilometre, and the City of Leeds Metropolitan Borough has a population of around 800,000.
Locals are informally known as ‘Loiners’ and have a reputation for being friendly. There are over 140 different ethnic groups and minorities are circa 18% of the population.
Famous names from Leeds include Mel B, Peter O’Toole, Alan Bennet and celebrity chef Marco Pierre White.
Due to multiculturalism and affordability, Leeds has consistently seen rapid population growth.
Cars are the most popular form of transport around the city. Leeds has even been ranked as one of the most congested cities in the UK.
Vehicle emissions are a large source of pollution in the area. Initiatives from the City Council have been effected to improve the air quality.
The city has a wide network of public transport systems. Buses are the most popular form of public transport. Leeds City Bus Station has long-distance services to transport people to various landmarks. Rail and air infrastructure are reliable but are less prevalent.
The Leeds City Council is the governing body that presides over Leeds and West Yorkshire. It consists of 99 councillors to cover the district’s wards.
The City council handles the provision of local authority services. Services include but are not limited to education, social services, and revenue collection.
The council has 10 committees that administer area-specific budgets and drive community improvement.
Leeds City Council building.
In the 1970s, Leeds was so proud of its status as the first city in the UK to build a motorway through its centre, it even sent out letters proclaiming “Leeds: Motorway City of the Seventies”, seemingly confident that it would remain a mark of pride in the future.
This made it the subject of ridicule, even then. Today, people across the UK are more than happy to mock Leeds with the name, despite improvements to the city centre over the past 50 years.
Like the rest of the UK, Leeds has an oceanic climate, with extremes being a rarity. Summers are mild, and winters moderately chilly. Snowfall is only seen for about 10.6 days throughout the year.
Hot days rarely occur in Leeds, and the majority of summer days are partly cloudy and range from mild to warm. Average daytime temperatures range between 18°C and 20°C from June to August.
Winters are moderately cold with cloudy skies and the chances of snowfall increase. Temperatures remain at an average of between 5°C and 7°C from December to February.
Autumn is generally seen as the ideal time to visit Leeds and avoid peaks in tourism. Autumn temperatures range from 9°C to 17°C.
Days are mild at the start of September and get colder towards October and November.
Spring might be ideal for visitors that prefer sunny days mixed with cooler and wet weather. From March to May, the daytime temperature stays at an average of between 9°C and 15°C.
Several secondary schools from Leeds have been ranked highly by the UK government. The city also has many internationally recognised tertiary institutions which offer comprehensive programmes.
Leeds Beckett University is one of the city’s oldest academic institutions. It offers a wide range of research degrees that attract international students.
Leeds Beckett has made a positive impact on the local community. It is the third university in the UK to receive the Customer Service Excellence standard.
The University of Leeds is one of the best-ranked tertiary institutions in the UK. Notable alumni include Keir Starmer, Jack Straw, and Sayeeda Warsi. The university is one of the founding members of the Russell Group.
Leeds Trinity became a university college in 2009, offering degrees in various areas. It is relatively new but is known to provide students with a quality learning experience.
Leeds Arts University is the only recognised arts university in the North of England. Their Foundation Diploma in Art & Design is one of the largest in the country.
With more than 20,000 students, Leeds City College is among one of the largest universities in the city. It is ideal for students seeking a vibrant and diverse learning environment.
The college focuses on aiding local employers and providing high-quality facilities.
Leeds Conservatoire is a higher education music conservative founded by Joseph Stones. Notable alumni include jazz pianist David Newton and saxophonist Pete Wareham.
Leeds has plenty of contemporary culture including first-class entertainment, sport, and architecture.
A pillar of the art community is the Leeds Art Gallery, which first opened its doors in 1888 and allows free entry. The gallery houses one of the best 20th-century art collection outside of London.
The Tetley Centre and the Henry Moore Institute are well-liked alternatives.
Victorian architecture is most common, very few buildings predate this era. The Leeds Town Hall and Corn Exchange are prime examples of the style.
The Chapeltown district hosts the Leeds West Indian Carnival in August of every year. The event gets around 250,000 visitors and is targeted at the city’s West Indian community. The carnival is recognised as the oldest West Indian event in Europe.
For gastronomists, Leeds has a food scene which thrives off innovation and diversity. Kirkgate Market and Trinity Kitchen are popular on the independent food scene. The annual Leeds Indie Food Festival is also a popular event in this regard.
The Whertheby Whaler, Skyliner Fish and Chip Shop, and the Ox Club are other noteworthy spots.
The Grand Theatre in Leeds is home to the only opera company outside of London. Leeds additionally has a repertory theatre and ballet.
Famous names such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Robbie Williams have all performed in Leeds, whereas acts such as Kaiser Chiefs, Soft Cell and Sisters of Mercy have originated from the city.
Leeds is well-known for sport and hosts many international sporting events. It is home to teams such as the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Leeds Rhinos, and Leeds United.
The Yorkshire County Cricket Club is a key part of the city’s cricket history. Their stadium, Headingley, is known globally and is a 15-minute drive away from the city centre.
Headingly Stadium has been home to the Leeds Rhinos since 1890. The rugby team has seen many successes over the years, which include Super League titles. Bus services and trains are available to drop tourists off at Headingly and the surrounding areas.
Leeds United is the successor of Leeds City and has been playing its games at Elland Road since the club’s start. Leeds has won three English League titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup, and two Community Shields.
The club’s badge features the symbol of Yorkshire, The White Rose of York. Their rivalries with top-tier clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea are widely publicised.
Besides these teams, Leeds has many field hockey clubs, a synchronised swimming team, and a vast array of sports facilities.