Lowdown On Leeds – London of the North?

Millennium Square & Civic Hall

Leeds is one of the most well-known cities in the North of England and an increasingly popular place to live and work. The history of Leeds spans more than 800 years, and a whole host of fascinating things have occurred in and around the city. Let’s see what draws so many people to the West Yorkshire city right now. Looking for an investment opportunity in Leeds? Visit our property investment in Leeds section to see what’s available now!

Things to do in Leeds

Some of Leeds’ most popular tourist attractions include Millennium Square, which is found just outside the railway station and is a short walk away from the City Museum, Civic Hall and the Town Hall. A large number of events take place in the square each year, with high-profile sports events playing on the big screen and an outdoor ice rink welcoming skaters in the school holidays. The Royal Armouries Museum is one of Leeds’ best-known attractions and is home to military hardware that dates back hundreds of years.

Music, theatre and TV

The city is also known for its cultural scene, with key venues including the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Grand Theatre, the 02 Academy, the Brudenell Social Club and the First Direct Arena. Leeds Festival takes place every August Bank Holiday Weekend at Branham Park, with a number of lower-key festivals also occurring throughout the summer. Soap fans should be left mesmerised by the Emmerdale Studio Experience, which was made open to the public a few years ago. The indoor sets are based at the ITV complex on Kirkstall Road, though you can also stroll through the outdoor set at the Harewood Estate around three miles away.

Lowdown On Leeds - London of the North? Aspen Woolf

Image Credit: Francisco Perez

Shopping in Leeds

The Kirkgate Market can be found in a charming Edwardian building in the centre, although some stalls are now located outside due to its growth over the years. The market is home to 200 stalls, including places to stock up on clothes, jewellery, local produce, hardware and cuisine from around the world. The Victoria Quarter is what has helped Leeds become known as “the Knightsbridge of the North”. The quarter is one of various elegant shopping arcades that you’ll see around the city, with brands including Harvey Nicholls, Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood all having a presence here. Even if you’re not shopping for high-end clothing and accessories, you can still admire the stunning architecture whilst enjoying a latte or two at one of the various cafes and restaurants.

Victorian grandeur

Shoppers looking for something a little out of the ordinary are well catered for by the Corn Exchange. This circular building also dates from the Victorian period and was once a farmers market. Today, it’s a great place to purchase all manner of strange and wonderful accessories as well as musical instruments, clothing and goods for the home. Known as a quirky, ‘alternative’ place to shop, the Corn Exchange is home to far more independent retailers than well-known brands.

Nightlife in Leeds

Leeds also has a great reputation when it comes to cuisine and is home to a large number of authentic South Asian restaurants and acclaimed Italian, Japanese, Thai and British-orientated eateries. Partygoers are well catered for across the city centre, but one of the biggest hubs for nightlife is Call Lane, which plays host to a diverse mix of electrifying clubs and bars. Leeds has recently been tipped for the highest growth in house prices across the UK, with JLL predicting growth of 17.1% by 2023, a figure that could see it leapfrog Manchester and Liverpool. Leeds offers a diverse mix of housing, including luxury city centre flats, sprawling rural homes, terraced, semi-detached and detached properties, catering for a wide range of budgets. Leeds is also gaining a greater reputation as an exciting place to do business. New data from Data Commons for UK tech found that investment into the tech companies of Leeds broke Northern investment records in 2018, with the figure standing at £108.8m. It’s also possible to reach London from Leeds within as little as 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Quirky facts about Leeds

The oldest flying aeroplane in Britain was built in Leeds. The Blackburn Type D was built by Robert Blackburn today, and you can still see it in action today, albeit in Bedfordshire. The deal to bring Cluedo to the masses was signed in Leeds when games maker Waddington was based there, eventually being made available in 1949. Another fact you might be surprised to learn is that the second ever Ryder Cup actually took place in the Moortown area of Leeds back in 1929.

Steeped in history

Marks & Spencers actually started life in Leeds, at Kirkgate Market. The brand was first launched as a penny bazaar stall by Michael Marks, who collaborated with Tom Spencer to develop the business. The city also plays host to the final remaining gas lit cinema in the UK, the Hyde Park Picture House. This venue celebrated its 100th birthday in 2014 and retains a number of charming original features. The city also has the oldest continuously operation public railway in the world. You can still ride on the Middletown Railway today, some 261 years after it was first opened to transport coal. The city was also home to hippos at one point – in 1984, the bones of a hippo were discovered in Armley, with experts suggesting they could date back some 130,000 years. Today, the bones can be seen in the Leeds City Museum. The first black player to play in an FA Cup final did so in the colours of Leeds United FC. Albert Johanneson was on the losing side at Wembley as Leeds lost 2-1 to Liverpool.

Leeds’ cultural heritage

The city has also been home to a considerable number of legendary authors, including Alan Bennett, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Tony Harrison. J.R.R. Tolkien was even based in Leeds at one point. The Lord of the Rings author was the youngest professor at the University of Leeds in the early 1920s. The first ever motion pictures were shot by Louis Le Prince in 1888, where he captured footage of the Leeds Bridge and Oakwood Grange.