Leeds Town Hall

Leeds Town Hall © TAB

This pleasant cosmopolitan city is one of the largest in northern Britain. Its sprawling industrial landscape began life as just a simple agricultural hamlet, around the 11th-c. During the 12th-c the monks at Kirkstall Abbey traded in wool and in the 14th-c Flemish migrants introduced the key skills of weaving and cloth manufacture.

Modern Leeds, however, owes its development to the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of excellent road, canal and rail networks - from which point the city rapidly expanded. Following the demise of cloth and textile manufacture during the 20th-c, Leeds became an important centre for finance, insurance and banking.

Victorian Shopping Arcade
The Victoria Quarter - County Arcade © TAB

Leeds has one of the best shopping centres in the North of England. Excellent retail facilities can be found around Briggate, Kirkgate, Bond Street, Boar Street and Commercial Street. The shopping areas are mostly pedestrianised and a number of good indoor centres and several Victorian style arcades can be found. The traditional indoor market in Kirkgate is one of the largest in Europe, boasting over 800 stalls.

Leeds Civic Hall

Leeds Civic Hall © TAB

Notable buildings in the old town centre include the Town Hall (opened by Queen Victoria in 1858), the City Art Gallery (1888), Temple Newsam House (16th-c) and the Cistercian Abbey of Kirkstall. To the rear of the town hall is the impressive civic hall (1933), which has a columned portico and twin towers, each topped with a gilded owl (part of the arms of the local council). One of the first brick buildings constructed in Leeds is the Red Hall, a fine Georgian mansion (circa 1650) where Charles 1st was incarcerated in 1646 as a prisoner of the Scots. It is currently the Headquarters of the Rugby Football League.

Leeds has an award winning Art Gallery and is home to one of the last remaining Music Hall Theatres in Britain, the 'City Varieties', and also 'The Grand', one of the UK's finest provincial theatres and top operatic companies.

The city's large Victorian public park at Roundhay was once a Royal hunting ground, and is resplendent with follies and large lake.

Places of Interest to Visit in Leeds

Leeds City Museum

See displays of Egyptian and Roman artifacts and local history, spanning some 540 million years. Collections include: Archaeology, Geology, Natural Science, Social & Industrial History, Decorative Art, Dress & Textiles, Fine Art and World Cultures. A changing programme of temporary and touring exhibitions is provided, plus special and community led displays.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Opening times: Tuesday - Friday: 10:00 - 17:00, Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 - 17:00 - Free Entry
Location: Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 8BH
Tel: 0113 224 3732
Website: leeds.gov.uk

Kirkstall Abbey & Abbey House Museum

Well preserved 12th-c Cistercian Abbey, beautifully located on the banks of the River Aire three miles north-west of the city centre. Many of the original abbey buildings still stand, including the church, cloister and refectory.

The Abbey House Museum provides an insight into the Abbey's 15th-c monastic life style. An interactive childhood gallery reiterates the story. Visitors can also discover life in 19th-c Leeds, with period streets filled the sights and sounds of the Victorian era. Regular events include plays, fairs and musical events.

Opening times: all year, Tue-Sat 10-5, Sun 1-5 - Admission Charge
Abbey site: all year , dawn to dusk.
Location: Abbey Rd, Kirkstall, Leeds, LS5 3EH - Tel: 0113 378 4079
Website: leeds.gov.uk
Facilities: Free parking, picnic area, shop.

Leeds Library & Art Gallery

Leeds Art GalleryContains one of the finest collections of 19th & 20th-c British art outside London, with a particularly good collection of English watercolours and a display of sculpture from all periods. Regular changing contemporary exhibits, events and workshops.

Opening times: all year, Mon-Tue 10-8, Wed 12-8, Thu-Sat 10-5, Sun 1-5. Closed BHs - Free Entry
Location: The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA - Tel: 0113 378 5350
Website: leeds.gov.uk
Facilities: Parking (nearby), cafe, shop.

Leeds Industrial Museum (Armley Mills)

Picturesquely sited between the River Aire and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, this restored 18th-c woollen mill details the wool and textile processing of the era. Packed with original mill equipment, recorded sounds and models. Other exhibits include fashion, history of cinema projection, steam locos and several static engines .

Opening times: all year, Tue-Sat 10-5, Sun 1-5 - Admission Charge
Location: Canal Rd, Armley, Leeds LS12 2QF - Tel: 0113 378 3173
Website: leeds.gov.uk
Facilities: Parking, picnic area, shop.

Middleton Railway

The first steam railway to be authorised by an Act of Parliament (1758). Now a fully restored heritage railway run by volunteers. Regular special event trains run throughout the season.

Opening times: Easter to Nov, Diesel Sat 1pm to 4.20pm. Steam Sun & BH Mon 11am to 4.20pm - Admission Charge
Location: Moor Rd, Hunslet LS10 2JQ - Tel: 0845 680 1758
Website: middletonrailway.org.uk
Facilities: Parking, cafe, shop.

Royal Armouries Museum

Hosts a famous collection of weapons and armour from the Tower of London. Displayed over five galleries, the exhibits cover War, Tournament, Self-Defence, Hunting and Oriental armour. Hands on exhibits, talks and demonstrations.

Opening times: all year, daily, from 10-5. Closed 24-25 Dec - Free Entry
Location: Armouries, Leeds LS10 1LT
Website: royalarmouries.org
Facilities: Parking, cafe, restaurant, picnic area, shop.

Temple Newsam Estate

This large Tudor-Jacobean pile is one of Britain's great historic houses with extensive grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. Once home to the renowned Halifax family. Darnley (the father of James I) was born here. The estate is currently run by the Leeds Corporation and contains a nationally important collection of fine and decorative art. The house is set in 1500 acres of magnificent parkland and gardens with dazzling displays of roses, azaleas, rhododendrons and national plant collections.

Opening times: all year, daily Tue To Sun 10-5. Closed 24-26 & 31 Dec & 1 Jan - Admission Charge
Location: Temple Newsam Rd, Halton LS15 OAE - Tel: 0113 336 7461
Website: leeds.gov.uk
Facilities: Parking, cafe, picnic area, shop

Tropical World

Recreated Tropics, featuring a swamp and rainforest with waterfalls and rock-pools. Home to exotic butterflies, reptiles and meerkats, nocturnal animals, plus an aquarium containing piranhas and other tropical fish.

Opening times: all year, daily 10am - 6pm (winter 10-4) (Closed Xmas) - Admission Charge
Location: Princes Ave, Roundhay Park, Leeds LS8 2ER - Tel: 0113 237 0754
Website: tropicalworld.leeds.gov.uk
Facilities: Parking, cafe, shop.

Map of Leeds


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