Leeds

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Leeds (/ˈliːdz/) is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds’ main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 (2011 est.), making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.

Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area, which at the 2001 census had a population of 1.5 million, and the Leeds-Bradford Metropolitan Area, of which Leeds is the integral part, had a population of around 2.3 million, making it the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. In addition, the Leeds city region, 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 London, and its office market is the best in Europe for value. Leeds is considered a Gamma World City, alongside cities such as Rotterdam, Phoenix, St. Petersburg and Valencia.

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 13th century, through several incarnations, 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 16th century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century.

Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds and there are a number of twinning arrangements with towns and cities in other countries. Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city’s importance to regional economic development.

The name Leeds derives from “Loidis”, the name given to a forest covering most of the Brythonic 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.

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 Navigation in 1699 and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal 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 Manchester and the ports of Liverpool and Hull giving improved access to international markets. Alongside technological advances and industrial expansion, Leeds retained an interest in trading in agricultural commodities, with the Corn Exchange opening in 1864.

Marshall’s Mill 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. In 2011 it was announced that Leeds will become an enterprise zone, which will help small businesses in the region to increase economic growth.

Leeds was a manor and township in the large ancient parish of Leeds St Peter, in the Skyrack wapentake of the West Riding of Yorkshire. 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 Briggate; 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 Hall 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 Beeston, Chapel Allerton, Farnley, Headingley cum Burley and Potternewton from within the borough. In the twentieth century the county borough initiated a series of significant territorial expansions, growing from 21,593 acres (87.38 km2) in 1911 to 40,612 acres (164.35 km2) in 1961. In 1912 the parish and county borough of Leeds absorbed Leeds Rural District, consisting of the parishes of Roundhay and Seacroft; and Shadwell, 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 Aireborough, Horsforth, Otley, Garforth and Rothwell; and parts of the rural districts of Tadcaster, Wetherby and Wharfedale. 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 Leeds. 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 centre 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.

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 nineteenth 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 Roundhay.

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 Hill 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, Colton, Whitkirk, 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.

Recently, Leeds has seen great local expenditure on regenerating the city, attracting in investments and flagship projects, as found in Leeds city centre. Many buildings have already been built, boasting luxurious penthouse apartments, very close to the city centre.

The central area of Leeds is located on the River Aire in a narrow section of the Aire Valley, which is in the eastern foothills of the Pennines. The city centre lies at about 206 feet (63 m) above sea level while the district ranges from 1,115 feet (340 m) in the far west on the slopes of Ilkley Moor to about 33 feet (10 m) 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 Birmingham), and the second greatest area of any English metropolitan district (after Doncaster), extending 15 miles (24 km) from east to west, and 13 miles (21 km) from north to south. The northern boundary follows the River Wharfe 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 (32 km) from the Yorkshire Dales National Park, 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 centre, the urban sprawl, the administrative boundaries, and the functional region. Leeds city centre 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. Briggate, the principal north-south shopping street, is pedestrianised and Queen Victoria Street, a part of the Victoria Quarter, is enclosed under a glass roof. Millennium Square is a significant urban focal point. The Leeds postcode area 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.

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. The city also hosts the only subsidiary office of the Bank of England in the UK. In 2006 GVA for city was recorded at £16.3 billion, with the entire Leeds City Region generating an economy of £46 billion.

Office developments, also traditionally located in the inner area, have expanded south of the River Aire and total 11,000,000 square feet (1,000,000 m2) 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. Tourism is important to the Leeds economy, in 2009 Leeds was the 8th most visited city in England by UK visitors. and the 13th most visited city by overseas visitors.

In January 2011, Leeds was named as one of five “cities to watch” in a report published by Centre for Cities. The report shows that the average resident in Leeds earns £471 per week, seventeenth nationally, 30.9% of Leeds residents had NVQ4+ high level qualifications, fifteenth nationally, and Leeds’ employment rate stands at 70.4% in 2010, twenty-fifth nationally, but was the only major city, along with Bristol, to have an employment rate at or above the national average. It also shows that Leeds will be the least affected major city by welfare cuts in 2014/2015, with welfare cuts of -£125 per capita predicted, compared to -£192 in Liverpool and -£175 in Glasgow. Yet despite the affluence of Leeds, much of the city retains a strongly working class tradition, and the economic progress of recent decades has also been accompanied by poverty: much of inner city Leeds remains deprived, with areas like Gipton, Middleton, Belle-Isle, Harehills, Burmantofts, Bramley, Armley, Kirkstall and Seacroft containing streets and areas of council housing that are among the poorest and most deprived areas in the whole of the UK.

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 2,264,100 square feet (210,340 m2).

The city centre has a large pedestrian zone. Briggate is the the main street where one can find many well known British stores like Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Topshop, Costa Coffee and Harvey Nichols (Which is also part of the Victoria Quarter). There is also a large international presence in Leeds with stores such as H&M, Zara, Gap, American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Foot Locker, L’Occitane en Provence, McDonald’s and Starbucks. Some of these companies even have multiple stores within the city centre and the city as a whole. The Victoria Quarter is the finest area for shopping in town. It includes old buildings and two great dramatic passages that contain more than 70 stores such as Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, Nicholas Deakin, Space NK, Paul Smith, Diesel and Harvey Nichols. To the south of Leeds lies the region’s only IKEA store, next to Birstall Shopping Park which includes a Showcase Cinema and some casual and fast-food restaurants. In the Churwell area of Leeds is the White Rose Shopping Centre. Opening in 1997, the centre has at least 100 stores including Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Topshop/Topman, River Island, Disney Store, Monsoon Accessorize, New Look, Primark and Sainsbury’s. Although the centre is nowhere near as big as other out of town shopping malls like the Trafford Centre or Meadowhall in nearby Yorkshire city Sheffield, it remains popular with international chains, for example H&M, Zara, Springfield, Nando’s and McDonald’s. 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.

A large shopping and leisure complex called /Trinity Leeds is currently under construction. It will cover the old Burton Arcades and the existing Leeds Shopping Plaza with it’s main entrance from Briggate. The design is similar to that of Cabot Circus in Bristol, a similar scheme that was constructed by the same commercial property company, Land Securities. Trinity Leeds will have a similar glass dome over at least 120 shops on 1,000,000 sq ft of floorspace. Notable retailers signed up to the scheme are River Island, Topshop/Topman, Marks & Spencer (who will expand their existing store on Briggate), H&M, Primark, BHS, Next alongside new retailers to the city such as Cult, Mango, Hollister and Apple Store. The will be an Everyman Cinema, a Giraffe restaurant, a Carluccio’s restaurant and London based restaurant group D&D will build two restaurants within the complex – their first UK restaurant outside of London.

Leeds displays a variety of natural and built landmarks. Natural landmarks include such diverse sites as the gritstone outcrop of Otley chevin and the Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve. The city’s parks at Roundhay and Temple Newsam 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 Square, Leeds City Square, Park Square 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 Hall and the trio of buildings in Leeds, Leeds Town Hall, Corn Exchange and Leeds City Museum by the architect Cuthbert Brodrick. The two startlingly white buildings on the Leeds skyline are the Parkinson building of Leeds University and the Civic Hall, with golden owls adorning the tops of its twin spires. Armley Mills, Tower Works, with its campanile-inspired towers, and the Egyptian-style Temple Works hark back to the city’s industrial past, while the site and ruins of Kirkstall Abbey display the beauty and grandeur of Cistercian architecture. Notable churches are Leeds Parish Church, St George’s Church and Leeds Cathedral, in the city centre, and the Church of St John the Baptist, Adel and Bardsey Parish Church in quieter locations.

The 112 metres (367 ft) tower of Bridgewater Place, 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 Plaza to the north of the city centre stands on higher ground so that its 106 metres (348 ft) is higher than Bridgewater Place.

Elland Road (football) and Headingley Stadium (cricket and rugby) are well known to sports enthusiasts and the White Rose Centre is a well known retail outlet.

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(M) passes to the east. Leeds is one of the principal hubs of the northern motorway network. Additionally, there is an urban motorway network; the radial M621 takes traffic into central Leeds from the M62 and M1. 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.

From Leeds railway station at New Station Street, MetroTrains operated by Northern Rail run to Leeds’ suburbs and onwards to all parts of Leeds City Region. The 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.

Leeds Bradford International Airport is located in Yeadon, about 10 miles (16 km) to the north-west of the city centre, and has both charter and scheduled flights to destinations within Europe plus Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey and the USA. There are connections to the rest of the world via London Gatwick Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.There is a direct rail service from Leeds to Manchester Airport. Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield is 40 miles (64 km) south-east of Leeds. Leeds has connections by road, rail and coach to Hull, only an hour away, from where it is possible to travel to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge by ferry services run by P&O Ferries.

A new Leeds City Museum opened in 2008 in Millennium Square. Abbey House Museum is housed in the former gatehouse of Kirkstall Abbey, and includes walk-through Victorian streets and galleries describing the history of the abbey, childhood, and Victorian Leeds. Armley Mills Industrial Museum 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 Scene and of Leeds Bridge in 1888. Thwaite Mills Watermill Museum is a fully restored 1820s water-powered mill on the River Aire to the east of the city centre. The Thackray Museum 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 Hospital. 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 London. Leeds Art Gallery reopened in June 2007 after a major renovation, and houses important collections of traditional and contemporary British art. Smaller museums in Leeds include Otley Museum, Horsforth Village Museum, the University of Leeds Textile Archive (ULITA), and the museum at Fulneck Moravian Settlement.

Leeds is home to the Grand Theatre where Opera North is based, this establishment seats 1,500 people and has recently undergone a £31.5m refurbishment. The City Varieties 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 West Yorkshire Playhouse.Leeds is also home to Phoenix Dance Theatre, who were formed in the Harehills area of the city in 1981, and Northern Ballet Theatre. In autumn 2010 the two companies moved into a purpose-built dance centre which is the largest space for dance outside of London. It is also the only space for dance to house a national classical and a national contemporary dance company alongside each another.Construction of the Leeds Arena is currently under way in the city centre. Due for completion in 2013, the 13,500 seater stadium will become the city’s number one venue for live music, indoor sports and many other events. Concerts are currently held at the O2 Academy, Elland Road and at both universities. Roundhay Park in north Leeds has seen some of the world’s biggest artists.

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