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Definition: Leeds from Philip's Encyclopedia

City and county district on the River Aire, West Yorkshire, N England. Founded in Roman times, it forms part of one of England's major industrial regions. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Leeds was famous for its cloth factories and it remains the centre of England's wholesale clothing trade. Leeds has two universities (1904, 1992). Industries: aircraft components, textile machinery, engineering, chemicals, plastics, furniture, paper and printing. Pop. (2001) 715,404.


Summary Article: Leeds
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Industrial city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England, 40 km/25 mi southwest of York, on the River Aire; population (2001) 443,250; metropolitan area 715,400. Industries include engineering, printing, chemicals, glass, woollens, clothing, plastics, paper, metal goods, and leather goods. Notable buildings include the Town Hall (1858) designed by Cuthbert Brodrick, the University of Leeds (1904), the Leeds City Art Gallery (1888), Temple Newsam House (early 16th century, altered in about 1630), and the Cistercian Abbey of Kirkstall (1147). It is a centre of communications where road, rail, and canals (to Liverpool and Goole) meet.

Opera North is based here. The Leeds Music Festival and the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition are held here every three years. The City of Leeds Open Brass Band Championships take place each May. The Royal Armouries Museum opened in 1996, housing a national collection of arms and armour formerly in the White Tower at the Tower of London. There is a famous cricket ground at Headingley.

Industries Leeds is an important regional centre, with about three quarters of its working population employed in insurance, banking, national and local government, and the distributive trades. Important employers are the clothing industry (for which Leeds is a large centre); engineering (which ranges from metal casting to the manufacture of scientific instruments); and the textile manufacturing industry. Leeds is also an important centre for the printing trade and furniture making (Thomas Chippendale began his business here); among its other industries are the manufacture of chemicals, soap, leather, coaches, ferro-concrete, medicines, hairdressing apparatus, cardboard boxes, mineral waters, carpets, jams and sauces, hats, brushes, clocks and watches, buttons, and electrical appliances and accessories.

City layout and landmarks Among the chief shopping streets are Briggate, Bond Street, Boar Lane, and Commercial Street. Another, Kirkgate, leads to the Corn Exchange (redeveloped as a shopping arcade) and to the parish church of St Peter (rebuilt in 1841). The church is said to be the fourth to be built on this site since the Domesday Book recorded that Leeds possessed ‘a priest, a church, and a mill’. In the church is a pre-Conquest cross, the oldest monument in Leeds. Crossing Briggate is a wide street, the Headrow, and nearby is the Merrion shopping centre. Most of the shopping area is restricted to pedestrian traffic, and much through traffic is diverted along the inner ring road.

Above the Headrow is St John's Church, which was built and endowed in 1634 by John Harrison; it is a fine example of 17th-century Gothic architecture, and contains a famous English Renaissance screen. Other churches include St Anne's Roman Catholic cathedral near Park Row, and Holy Trinity church (1727). On the south side of the Headrow is the site of the Red Hall, a mansion where Charles I is said to have stayed in 1646 as a prisoner of the Scots. In the centre of City Square stands Brock's equestrian figure (1899) of the Black Prince, whose father, Edward III, did much to establish the wool industry. The City Museum, in Park Row, contains an Egyptian mummy of 1070 BC, pottery, Yorkshire tokens, Roman artefacts, and zoological specimens. Leeds Industrial Museum in Armley Mill (once the largest textile mill in the world) is now a museum of the textile, clothing, and engineering industries. There is also a folk museum at Abbey House, Kirkstall.

The town hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1858; it has a tower 69 m/226 ft high. At the rear of the town hall is the civic hall, which was opened by King George V in August 1933. The main frontage has a portico with six columns, and the twin towers are 52 m/170 ft high, each surmounted by a large gilt owl, which is part of the arms of the local government. Opposite the town hall are the municipal buildings, occupied by the central reference and lending libraries, and the specialist libraries for science, commerce, technology, art, music, as well as the Leeds City Art Gallery (founded 1888), with the adjoining Henry Moore Institute (1993), the largest gallery in Europe devoted solely to sculpture. The Millennium Square (2000) is sited in front of the town hall, and is the site of an open-air theatre.

Educational facilities The city has two universities, the University of Leeds, and Leeds Metropolitan University. The Carnegie Physical Training College in Beckett Park was the first of its kind in the country. There is a girls' high school (1876). The grammar school (1552; enlarged 1624) moved to a new site in 1859, and the old building became home to the University of Leeds Business School.

Parks and woodland The two principal parks are at Roundhay (255 ha/637 acres) and Temple Newsam (378 ha/945 acres). Roundhay Park has natural woodlands, two lakes, and two lakes, and was formerly a royal hunting ground. Temple Newsam House and grounds were acquired in 1922 from the 1st Earl of Halifax. Middleton Park (128 ha/320 acres) lies to the south of the city near an industrial district. North of the city lies the 18th-century Harewood House.

Transport Leeds, with its inner ring road to the north of the city centre, and an urban motorway system south of the river, has good access to the national motorway system: the M1 for London, the Midlands, and the North, and the M621 for Liverpool and Hull. Leeds and Bradford airport is nearby at Yeadon. Permission for an urban tram network was granted in 2001.

History The early history of Leeds is obscure; its original name was Loidis, and at the coming of the Normans it was an agricultural village of 400 ha/1,000 acres cultivated by 35 farmers. In the 12th century, the monks of Kirkstall Abbey traded in wool, and in the 14th century Flemish immigrants introduced the art of weaving and cloth manufacture. The first royal charter, which formed the town and parish into a municipal borough, was granted by Charles I in 1626.

Leeds owes its modern development to its industries. The city benefited from its communication with Liverpool (via the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, completed in 1816), and with the Humber (via the Aire and Calder Navigation system). The proximity of the great coal- and iron-fields, developed during the Industrial Revolution, was an important factor in establishing the city's prosperity. Engineering developed during the 19th century, in particular railway engineering, on account of the city's central position in the national railway system. Leeds was made a county borough in 1889 and a city in 1893.

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