In the 16th century Leeds became the wool centre of England. The sheep on the Yorkshire moors provided the wool for the spinners and weavers working in Leeds and the surrounding villages. Leeds position as the main market for the trade in woollen goods was helped in the 18th century by the building of the 127 mile long Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Aire & Calder Navigation that went to Hull and the River Humber.

Leeds also had the advantage of having the oldest horse-drawn railroad in the world. Built in 1758, this 3.5 mill railroad supplied the people of Leeds with coal from the Middleton Colliery.

The invention of an efficient flax-spinning machine that produced good quality yarn by John Marshall and , Matthew Murray, and the building of Temple Mill at Water Lane helped the growth of the textile industry in Leeds. The introduction of steam-powered machinery in the late 18th century also encouraged the building of textile factories in Leeds. Farming land, north-east and south of the town, was purchased and filled with rows of back-to-back terraced houses. Houses were also built by infilling the long, narrow crofts behind the streets of houses, shops and inns of Leeds. In 1801 Leeds had a population of 30,669 and by 1831 it had reached 71,602.

The economic importance of Leeds was increased in 1840 with the completion of the Manchester & Leeds Railway. This line was in 1847 to become the principal constituent of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Leeds was now linked to Liverpool on the west coast and to the east coast at Goole on the River Humber. The population of Leeds grew rapidly after the development of the railway network and by 1861 the town had a population of 207,000. This made Leeds the largest town in Yorkshire.

Leeds is a large, wealthy and populous town, it stands on the north bank of the River Aire, or rather on both sides of the river, for there is a large suburb or part of the town on the south side of the river, and the whole is joined by a stately and prodigiously strong stone bridge, so large, and so wide, that formerly the cloth market was on the bridge itself. The increase in the manufacturers and of the trade, soon made the market too great to be confined to the bridge, and it is now kept in the high street, beginning from the bridge, and running up north almost to the market house, where the ordinary market for provisions begin. The market is here twice a week. At seven the market bell rings (in the summer earlier, in the depth of winter a little later). It would surprise a stranger to see in how a few minutes, without hurry or noise, and not the least disorder, the whole market is filled; all the boards upon the tressels are covered with cloth, close to one another as the pieces can lie long ways by one another, and behind every piece of cloth, the clothier standing to sell it.

The manufacture of cloth affords employment to the major part of the lower class of people in the north-west districts of the West Riding of Yorkshire. These cloth-makers reside almost entirely in the villages, and bring their cloth on market-days for sale in the great halls erected for that purpose at Leeds and Huddersfield.

In the census of 1841 there appear to have been in Leeds 34,002 inhabited and 2,419 uninhabited buildings. This includes 15 churches of the Establishment and upwards of 30 dissenting places of worship. Of the latter the Wesleyan posses six chapels - the New Connexion Methodists, 3 - the Association Methodists, 2 - the Teetotal Methodists, 1 - the Primitive Methodists, 2 - the Independents, 5 - the Particular Baptists, 1 - the General Baptists, 1 - the Society of Friends, 1 - the Presbyterians, 1 - and the Unitarians, Swedenborgians, and Inghamites, 1 each. Most of the places of worship have Sunday schools attached to them. The number of scholars is estimated at about 12,000.

The corporation of Leeds is, I understand, about to spend a very large sum (about £30,000 or £40,000) in the formation of an extensive system of paving, drainage, etc., in hitherto neglected portions of the borough. Never were sanitary reforms more imperatively called for. The condition of vast districts of the opulent and important town of Leeds is such that the very strongest language cannot overstate.

Virulent and fatal as was the recent attack of cholera here, my wonder is that cholera, or some disease almost equally as fatal, is ever absent. From one house, for instance, situated in a large irregular court or yard - a small house containing two rooms - four corpses were recently carried. I looked about and did not marvel. The floor was two or three inches deep in filth. This seemed to be the normal state even of the passable parts of the place. In the centre of the open place was a cluster of pigsties, privies and cesspools, bursting with pent-up abominations; and a half a dozen places from this delectable nucleus was a pit about five feet square filled to the very brim with semi-liquid manure gathered from the stables and houses around.

The east and north-east districts of Leeds are perhaps the worst. A short walk from the Briggate, in the direction in which Deansgate branches off from the main entry, will conduct the visitor into a perfect wilderness of foulness. I have plodded by the half hour through the streets in which the undisturbed mud lay in wreaths from wall to wall; and across open spaces, overlooked by houses all round, in which the pigs, wandering from the central oasis, seemed to be roaming through what was only a large sty. Indeed, pigs seem to be natural inhabitants of such places. I think that they are more common in some parts of Leeds than dogs and cats are in others.

Average Age of Death





Bethnal Green
































The Thoresby Society

The River Aire meanders its way south-eastwards across Yorkshire and eventually joins the Humber and the North Sea. In prehistoric times it flowed through a heavily wooded and swampy valley and it is here, at a ford over the river, that the village of Leeds was established. Other villages such as Armley, Bramley, Headingley and Hunslet grew up on the rolling hills around it. However, it was Leeds, at that vital river crossing, which came to dominate the surrounding out-townships, gradually absorb them and ultimately become a major European city.

When the country was in the grip of the Ice Ages animals like the mammoth roamed through the Aire valley. As the ice melted and pine and birch trees began to dot the landscape, hippopotami wallowed in the swamps by the river and the auroch and red deer foraged in the surrounding hills. The antlers of a red deer have been found at Kirkstall at Thwaite Mills the tusk of a mammoth and at Wortley the remains of three hippopotami.

The first human inhabitants of the area appeared in the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age. Their remains have been found at Thorpe Stapleton a few miles to the east of Leeds. Implements from the Bronze Age have been found at Roundhay and Hunslet and a beaker at Tinshill. It was here on the hilltops north of the valley at Cookridge and Ireland Wood that the Iron Age Celts settled. Remains of their huts have been discovered there but no evidence has been found to support the theory that an Iron Age fort was established on Woodhouse Moor.

The Romans marched north to subdue the Brigantes, the tribe that inhabited most of northern Britain and a Roman fort and settlement were built at Burgodonum (Adel). Roman remains have been found both there and at several other places in the Leeds area. But it is not until some 300 years after the Romans left Britain that there is any written mention of Leeds.

About AD 730, the Venerable Bede, writing his classic 'History of the English Church and People', refers to Loidis, by which he meant the town and surrounding area of Leeds. He also went on to tell how the pagan king, Penda ,was killed at the battle of Winwaed 'in the region of Loidis.'

The coming of the Vikings saw Yorkshire divided into thirdings or 'ridings.' These were subdivided into wapentakes where the local assembly met. The villages south of the Aire Armley, Beeston, Farnley, Hunslet and the rest were part of the Morley wapentake. Those to the north, like Leeds and Cookridge, were in the Skyrack wapentake which met at the old oak tree in Headingley. It has been suggested that a Viking settlement was established at Giant's Hill, Armley, but no archaeological evidence is available to support this.

With the arrival of the Normans comes the first detailed account of the area. According to Domesday Book Leeds had a mill, a church and a priest. It was sited around the area of the present Parish Church and fared much better than many of its neighbouring villages. William's punitive devastation, the infamous ‘Harrying of the North' in 1069 reduced the area between the Humber and the Tees into a waste land. The villages around Leeds did not escape. Seacroft, along with Garforth, Coldcotes, Manston, Bramley, Beeston, Halton, and Allerton were utterly destroyed. For some reason, Leeds was left unscathed and actually increased in value.

In 1207 Maurice Paynel, the lord of the manor, decided to develop a new town. He obtained a charter from King John and the new town grew around the street we now call Briggate. Most importantly it enabled the inhabitants to develop their own businesses. It became a focal point for the surrounding out-townships, standing as it did at the river crossing. Leeds probably had a bridge across the Aire in Norman times and certainly one existed by 1372. Slowly the old town, centred on Kirkgate, and the new one, around Briggate, coalesced.

By the fourteenth century Leeds was a busy place. Records show that there were two innkeepers, a butcher, and three smiths working in it. The beginnings of the textile trade are noted in the mention of the three dye vats in the town. In Kirkgate was the common oven where bread was baked and to the west of the town, on the site where the Scarborough Hotel now stands, was the lord's manor-house. Ranging north and west from there was the rolling parkland used by the lord for hunting - hence the names Park Row, Park Place and Park Square. Basinghall Street, originally Butts Lane, was the site of the archery butts and at Burmantofts, the borough men's tofts, were found some of the open fields where grain was grown. It would be ground into flour at the watermill sited on the river bank at the bottom of Mill Hill.

The church dominated everyday life. Apart from the Parish Church there were numerous chantry chapels around Briggate and Kirkgate. Although the manor of Leeds was relatively small, the parish of Leeds encompassed the villages of Hunslet, Headingley, Bramley, Seacroft and the rest of the out-townships. Adel and Whitkirk were separate parishes. A fine example of a mid-twelfth-century Norman church can still be seen at Adel and at Whitkirk is the only medieval church within the old city boundaries.

The Leeds area also could boast two religious settlements. In 1152, Cistercian monks from Fountains Abbey founded a monastery at Kirkstall. Its remains are among the best preserved monastic ruins in Europe. A little later, the Knights Templar established a settlement east of the town near the village of Newsam. Nothing of their habitation now remains other than the name Temple Newsam.

By the beginning of the seventeenth century the wool trade had become Leeds' main industry. Its cloth market, originally held on the bridge, expanded so rapidly through the century that it was eventually moved to Briggate itself. However, by the 1620s disreputable clothiers were seriously damaging the business by selling inferior cloth and claiming that it was the original Leeds product. To combat this, Leeds merchants argued that the town should be able to regulate the trade through its own corporation. Thus in July 1626, Charles I granted the town its a charter and the first corporation of Leeds was established.

Active in campaigning for the new charter was John Harrison, a Leeds woollen merchant. He was to become one of the greatest benefactors of the town. In 1624 he replaced the old grammar school which had been founded in 1552, and in 1634 he built St John's Church at the top of Briggate.

However, the gradual economic prosperity of the town was halted as firstwar and then pestilence swept the land. With England riven by civil war, Leeds found itself in the hands of the Royalists. Then in January 1643, Sir Thomas Fairfax and his Parliamentarians launched a two pronged attack on its defences. Whilst the main body attacked the town from Woodhouse Moor a smaller body advanced on Leeds Bridge from the south. The action was centred around Briggate and lasted for about two hours. Fairfax was successful. Some 500 prisoners were taken but, in his words, ‘There were not above forty slain.'

Two years later an even worse disaster struck the town. Bubonic plague, which had made repeated appearances in Leeds through the centuries, struck in Vicar Lane. It spread quickly through Leeds and on to the out townships. Between March and December that year some 1,325 people perished.

Fortunately the town recovered fairly quickly from its setbacks and by 1720 when Daniel Defoe visited it he was able to remark of its cloth market that it was ‘a prodigy of its kind and not to be equalled in the world.' Knowledge of the period is considerably aided by the fact that the Leeds antiquarian, Ralph Thoresby kept a diary of the times and published, among other works, his famous Ducatus Leodiensis, the first history of the town. Not surprisingly, the premier historical society of Leeds, formed in 1889, was named after him.

The eighteenth century saw Leeds growing in strength both industrially and economically as well as culturally. The textile trade was flourishing. The numerous coal mines in the area provided fuel for the increasing population and for the textile factories which were beginning to emerge as the Industrial Revolution began to develop. Predominant among the local entrepreneurs who led the way were Benjamin Gott and John Marhshall. The woollen cloth manufacturer Gott became one of Europe's largest employers. His Bean Ing mill, sited at the west end of Wellington Street where the Yorkshire Post building used to stand, was the first to concentrate all the processes of manufacture under one roof. His smaller mill at Armley is now the Leeds Industrial Museum. John Marshall's flax mills in Holbeck can still be seen on Marshall Street. His most famous and original is a full scale replica of the Ancient Egyptian temple at Edfu which Marshall opened 1838.

Several important buildings were erected at this time time. Cloth halls were built for the sale of the cloth the Coloured Cloth Hall, where dyed cloth was sold, was sited on present City Square whilst part of the one-time magnificent White Cloth Hall can still be seen behind the present Corn Exchange. Leeds General Infirmary was opened on Infirmary Street to meet the medical needs of the growing population. To cater for cultural pursuits the Assembly Rooms were built next to the White Cloth Hall on Hunslet Lane the Theatre Royal opened as did music halls in Albion Street and Vicar Lane. The longest lasting of these cultural contributions is the Leeds Library which opened in 1768. It eventually moved to its present home in Commercial Street and is today the oldest surviving example of a subscription library left in England.

Throughout the eighteenth century transport was a national major issue. It was no less so in Leeds. However, by the end of that century the town was developing into a major coaching centre. The Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the Aire and Calder Navigation were both opened, linking the heartland of the industrial West Riding with both west and east coasts. Meanwhile, the building of a waggonway in 1758 to transport coal from Middleton Colliery to Leeds heralded the beginning of the railway age.

The nineteenth century saw the population of Leeds soar from 53,162 in 1801 to 428,572 in 1901. By the Victorian Age Britain had emerged as a major industrial nation and could claim to be the ‘workshop of the world'. Leeds was part of that success as it saw new industries begin to make their impact upon the town. The woollen and flax industries were still active until the 1870s and 1880s but as the century developed old industries like engineering expanded and new industries such as ready-made clothing emerged. But Leeds was fortunate in having a diversified industrial base and other dominant industries included leather, printing and brewing.

During the nineteenth century the increasing population, recurring economic crises, widespread poverty, appalling working and living conditions and political agitation posed problems the town had difficulty in coping with. Luddite riots broke out in Leeds in 1812 and in 1842 military intervention was required to support the newly formed Leeds Police force in suppressing a Chartist insurrection. Meanwhile, mass demonstrations on Holbeck Moor were the Leeds' response to the government's refusal to introduce some form of Parliamentary Reform. In 1832 when the Reform Bill was eventually passed Leeds was finally granted two MPs.

Diseases cholera in 1832 and 1848 and typhus in 1847 took a heavy toll in the poorer areas. Robert Baker, the Leeds town surgeon, produced a series of reports which graphically identified the problem and which in turn became recognised as being of national importance whilst Leeds-born Richard Oastler, the ‘Factory King', launched his national campaign for factory reform in the Leeds press.

Many of those affected by the squalor and poverty were Irish immigrants, fleeing their homeland following the Potato Famine of the 1840s. In the 1880s a new wave of immigrants, this time Jews, escaping the pogroms of eastern Europe, arrived in the town. Most of these newcomers settled down to work in the ready-made clothing industry.

Over the years the council, re-formed in 1835, only slowly began to come to grips with the problems of the town. However, it felt confident enough to build a Town Hall as an example of its civic strength which Queen Victoria opened in 1858. Then, over the years, it gradually provided an adequate water supply, an education service and a public transport tramway system. Transport developed over the century as roads were improved and new ones constructed. From the port of Leeds vessels sailed regularly to London and other places on the east coast and from 1834 the building of several railways running from the town was undertaken.

If most of its workers lived in back-to-backs, Leeds could nevertheless boast some fine architecture. The New Infirmary opened in 1868, the Grand Theatre ten years later and in 1874 the Yorkshire College of Science which eventually become the University of Leeds in 1904.

In 1893 Leeds became a city, boasting an effective tramcar service, libraries, parks, schools and one of the finest shopping centres in the North, famed particularly for its arcades. By now the village by the Aire had spread itself across the hillsides of the valley, absorbing the local townships. It had become as the 'Yorkshire Factory Times' described it 'A vast business place . a miniature London.'

The twentieth century saw that development continue. The biggest industrial change was the decline of the traditional textile industry and by 1926 tailoring, distributive trades, and engineering dominated the eighty-odd other trades being carried out in the city. By then Montague Burton's bespoke tailoring factory on Hudson road, employing 16,000, become the largest and most popular clothing company in Europe. It was the diversity of its industries which has proved to be Leeds' greatest strength and enabled it to survive the turbulent years of economic crisis and political conflict in the first half of the century.

It was a century which again saw the city mirror the historical events of the rest of the country. Mrs Pankhurst and her suffragettes met on Woodhouse Moor in 1908. There were Labour disputes like the corporation workers' strike of 1913 to 1914 which resulted in paralysing the city for a while. The appalling events of the First World War were brought home to the local population in July 1916, when virtually every street in Leeds lost a man in the bloody Battle of Somme. As a prelude to the Second World War, Fascists and Communists clashed on Holbeck Moor.

Leeds also had a major housing problem to address as considerable numbers of its back-to-backs were classed as unfit for human habitation. Thus, between the wars, the development of large corporation estates and areas of new private housing was undertaken. The most imaginative of these schemes was the building of Quarry Hill Flats between 1935 and 1941. This was a dramatic move to provide over 3,000 people with homes on a single site.

Fortunately Leeds was relatively unscathed by the bombing of the Second World War although seventy-seven Leeds people were killed and197 buildings were destroyed. The post war years saw more and more housing estates being built, new schools erected and public facilities improved. The ethnic mix of the city also altered during the 1950s and 1960s when large numbers of West Indian and Asian immigrants settled in the city.

In 1974 Leeds became a metropolitan district with a population of 730,000. During the 1980s recession it suffered a high degree of unemployment, though not as drastically as some places. Race riots in the Chapeltown area erupted in 1981 but great efforts have been made to improve relations between the various ethnic groups of the city and these have met with considerable success. There was still much room for improvement. In 1986 some 2,600 houses in the city that had no bath, inside lavatory or hot and cold water. Some areas were designated Urban Priority Areas where crime, long term unemployment and deprivation generally were felt. But changes were coming. Many took the opportunity to buy their council house whilst the rundown Aire waterfront was transformed as the Labour council and the Development Corporation converted the area of derelict warehouses and run-down docks into expensive apartments, hotels and quality restaurants with its crowning achievement being the Royal Armouries.

By the twenty-first century Leeds had become one of the boom towns of Europe. It is today the second major centre in the country for printing and publishing and the third largest centre for media and communications. In fact some 35 per cent of the country’s e-mail traffic is carried on from there. Today there are about thirty national and international banks in the city, as well as law firms, companies offering financial services, accountancy firms, and insurance companies.

As the people of Leeds stand in the second decade of the new century and view the future, not surprisingly they do so with the same thoughts passing through their heads that occupied those of their forebears in December 1900 as they viewed a new century. Then the Leeds Mercury anticipated the future and contemplated on what was to come, ‘wonders far surpassing anything the wisest among us can foresee or imagine’.

All illustrations used on this page were drawn by Dr. Thornton and are from his book 'The Picture Story of the City of Leeds' ISBN 0 907339 19 0

The name is first attested in 1195 as "Burteg" and, around 1200, as "Burcheleia" which is more representative of other medieval attestations. The name derives from Old English burh, a 'fortification' and lēah an 'open space in woodland'. [1]

Burley grew from a village in the late industrial revolution, and there are several streets including the word 'village' including The Village Street. The area from The Village Street in the west to the railway line in the east, and north of Burley Road forms the Village Conservation Area. [2] Parts of the original village can still be seen at the junction of Burley Road and Haddon Road, and around Burley Lodge. Most houses constructed in Burley were of red-brick, but were generally smaller and largely back-to-backs. Industrial and commercial buildings were also largely brick-built. There are some larger stone-built buildings on Kirkstall Road such as the ornate Cardigan Arms public house—although this largely pre-dates most of the buildings in the area—which at the time of its construction only Burley Village existed, with the Arms somewhat outside. [ citation needed ]

Mills along the River Aire were built towards the end of the 19th century, some of which remain standing. Housing for mill workers and others in surrounding areas followed, and homes were built further up the bank. [ further explanation needed ] Other industries in the area included printing, clock-making, [3] dairies and chemicals.

Before 1904, local government was handled by the civil parish of Headingley-cum-Burley. Thereafter, the area was incorporated into the parish of Leeds. [4] The ecclesiastical parish of Burley still exists. The boundaries of the ecclesiastical parish are very close to those of the postcode area LS4, so LS4 is often used as an indicator of being in Burley, although LS4 also includes a small area that is in the ecclesiastical parish of Kirkstall.

The area remained working class for many decades [ quantify ] but the growth of the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University in the late 20th century brought a growing student population to Burley and the surrounding areas of Hyde Park, and Headingley. In the mid- to late 2000s student halls were built along the lower parts of Burley Road.

The opening of the Leeds Studios in 1968 by Yorkshire Television provided the first major non-manufacturing employer. Yorkshire Television and Radio Aire broadcast studios, and the Home Office's Immigration offices, are on Kirkstall Road in Burley.

St Matthias' Church is situated to the south-east of the old village. Built in 1854, it is a stone church with spire, and was designated a Grade II listed building on 5 August 1976. [5] St. Simon's Church, funded by Edmund Denison-Beckett MP, was located on Ventnor Street [6] but was closed as part of a clearance scheme in the 1960s. [7]

Burley public houses and members' clubs include The Cardigan Arms, Bridgewater Arms, The Merry Monk (now closed), [8] Burley Social Club and Burley Conservative Club. There are three gyms, a 5-aside football centre and a nine-hole golf course. Burley Branch Library was open on Cardigan Road between 1926 and 2016, closing due to the poor condition of the building.

The area is served by small supermarkets (Iceland, Asda, Co-op and Aldi), and small chains such as One-Stop, Costcutter and Premier. The main shopping area is on Kirkstall Road and Burley Hill, where there are shops and restaurants. Cardigan Fields leisure park complex contains a multi-screen cinema, a nightclub, a gymnasium, a 10-pin Bowling, a public house, and an ALDI supermarket. Restaurants include Pizza Hut, McDonald's and Nando's.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal and River Aire form Burley's southern boundary, and are popular with walkers, cyclists and fishermen.

Burley Model Allotments, in what was once a quarry, has more than 100 plots and is bisected by Beechwood Crescent. The allotments have existed since 26 August 1892 when Leeds City Council acquired the site. It was replanned in 1956 and 1957 and on 26 June 1958 they were re-opened as Burley Model Allotments by the Lord Mayor of Leeds. [ citation needed ]

Local artists open their homes as galleries to display their work as part of Triangle Art Day. [ citation needed ]

Housing Edit

Burley is characterised by red brick Victorian terraces including small back-to-back houses and through terraces. In the 20th century private houses were built including semi-detached houses around the Burley Wood. There are pockets of 20th-century council houses including a small estate of prefabricated concrete houses on Burley Road near the Yorkshire Television studios and an estate closer to Kirkstall.

Burley has a student population in private rented accommodation and in the mid- to late 2000s large scale student halls were built on Burley Road such as the former Opal Group now owned by CLV, Parklane Triangle, Unite Students and Iconinc.

Burley is linked to Leeds city centre by the A65 and Burley Roads. The railway came to Burley with the opening of the Harrogate Line in 1848 but Burley Park railway station was only opened in 1988 until then the nearest station was Headingley railway station. The station connects Burley with the city centre, Headingley, Horsforth, Harrogate, Knaresborough and York. First Leeds' 15, 19, 19A, 33, 33A, 49, 50 and 50A bus services link Burley with the city centre, Bradford, Farsley, Horsforth, Ireland Wood, Tinshill, Kirkstall, Headingley, Bramley, Garforth, Guiseley, Menston, Otley, St James' Hospital and Seacroft. Until 1959 the Leeds Tramway ran through Burley.

Queens ARLFC play in the Pennine League Premier Division and have headquarters at Burley Social Club. Burley United play their games at West Park football fields, playing in Division 1 of the Sunday League. Burley RUFC play in Yorkshire Division 4 and play their matches next to Kirkstall Abbey.

Burley was the setting for the television drama Harry's Game, in which an estate (since demolished) in Burley was portrayed to be Belfast. [9] The Haddon Hall public house was used for filming in the Beiderbecke Tapes. Burley Park railway station is sometimes used as Hotton railway station in Yorkshire Television soap opera Emmerdale. Occasional scenes from Fat Friends were shot in Burley. [ citation needed ]

    a pipe organ builder. [10] (aka Scary Spice) from the girl band the Spice Girls was born in Harehills in 1975 and grew up in Burley. [11] (born Andrew William Harvey Taylor), vocalist for the Sisters of Mercy lived at 7 Village Place in the 1980s. [12]
  • The hardcore punk band the Flex are based in Burley. [13] (born Benjamin Matthews), guitarist for the Sisters of Mercy lived at 7 Village Place in the 1980s. [12]
  • Multiple of the members of hardcore punk band Higher Power have lived in Burley. [14] (born Mark Frederick Pearman), founding guitarist for the Sisters of Mercy lived at 7 Village Place in the 1980s. [12] , actress known for her role as Maeve Wiley on Sex Education lived in a house on Burley Road while attending the University of Leeds. [15]

Burley is home to Andy McVeigh (aka the Burley Banksy), an artist who brightens up electric boxes around the community with original murals. His art now appears across the city, usually themed around homages to Leeds United Football Club. [16]


On May 4 th 1890, workers in Leeds came together to celebrate International Workers Day for the first time ever, campaigning for the eight-hour working day like working people did around the world on the call of the Socialist (2 nd ) International from its 1899 conference in Paris. The date was to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket Martyrs in Chicago, executed and scapegoated after a bomb was detonated at a workers rally campaigning both for the 8 hour day and against police murders of workers the previous day.

The same day, over 100,000 demonstrated in London at a demonstration organised by Eleanor Marx and the newly formed Gas and General Labourer’s Union (GGLU). The Committee for the Eight Hours Working Day which they formed had seven platforms alone in Hyde Park. Frederick Engels commented “There can be no doubt about that: on May 4, 1890, the English working class joined the great international army. And that is an epoch-making fact.”

Their fellow socialists and GGLU members in Leeds managed a similar feat, with even the Conservative Yorkshire Post saying 5,000 attended (though later commenting on very large numbers of bystanders). If the alternate 30-40,000 figure, according to the Liberal Leeds Mercury, is to be believed, it was a proportionately even bigger affair than London. Either way, the Mercury reported that “the open space in front of the Town Hall was crowded to excess” whilst the Post stated that the march included not one, but four brass bands and was so large that the rally speakers were delayed by an hour as they waited for the end of the march to reach its terminus.

The march, like in London, was swelled by the ranks of ‘new unionism’ the newly organised workers in semi-skilled and unskilled work like those in the GGLU, but also tailors and tailoresses, particularly from the growing Jewish community. The Jewish Slipper Trade Society marched with a giant cloth slipper borne at their head. The Yorkshire Post also lists “…ironworkers, sanitary workers, malsters (people who make malt – ID), and dyers labourer’s.” Several groups marched from the union offices or other meeting points to Victoria Square itself.

Today the Leeds TUC led May Day march is generally a much smaller affair, although in the year running up to the 1 million strong November 30 th public sector strike over pensions the demonstration was larger. At that time, the craft snobbishness of the leadership of the Leeds Trades Council meant they shunned the new unions, and they had to establish a Yorkshire Labour Council to organise the march, a body that later dissolved as the new unionists won over established trades councils or established their own.

Whilst the May Day march starts at the same place today, rather than returning to Victoria Gardens as we do today, the march wound along some of the city centres main thoroughfares Park Row, Boar Lane and Briggate to eventually end at Vicar’s Croft, where the outdoor market now stands.

One of the smallest, but most significant, groups on the march was that of the Socialist League of Tom Maguire and others who had helped not only organise the march, but assisted in the establishment of the new unions. Vicar’s Croft was the place they had regularly held outdoor meetings, and it was there they had met and then helped organise a short and successful strike of building labourers in July 1889 which kicked off New Unionism in Leeds. Reports clash as to whether they or the Jewish Tailors led the parade, but the Yorkshire Post comments “The Socialists were distinguished by their red flag, surmounted by the cap of liberty, and by their efforts to add a vocal accompaniment to the playing of the “Marseillaise”.”

The rally at the end clearly hadn’t been prepared for so many people, it started an hour late and there were only two “…small and somewhat rickety platforms distinguished by the red flags of the Socialists and the banners of the various societies represented…” The Yorkshire Post reporter continues, “Only those persons, however, who managed… to get in the immediate front of these platforms were able to hear with any degree what was being said by the eight hour advocates… one half of the assembly had perforce to content themselves with forming into separate groups to discuss the question at issue in a semi-private fashion…”

Yet despite these difficulties, both platforms moved and voted on a resolution on the eight hour day, the text of which was as follows

“That this meeting rejoices in the universal action taken by the workmen of the civilised world with respect to the necessity of an eight hours working day, and regards it hopefully as the first step towards the abolition of national and industrial war, the overthrow of race hatreds between the working classes, and the final emancipation of labour.”

It is striking how relevant, albeit in a somewhat different fashion, the question of the eight hour working day is today, in a situation where many people or on much shorter working hours than they need or would want due to zero-hour and other short-hour contracts. This is a question the trade union movement is beginning to face-up to, especially with the pioneering work being done by the Baker’s, Food and Allied Workers Union in the Fast Food industry alongside groups such as Youth Fight for Jobs.

Interestingly, the Yorkshire Post article concludes by mentioning the police presence “The proceedings were orderly in character, and the services of but four police constables sufficied…” Yet today, protesters can often meet much tougher restrictions from the police on authorities on our right to demonstrate. Not only has Leeds City Council placed an exhibition on Victoria Gardens covering up most of the space including the area in front of the Art Gallery steps where the march usually hears speakers (despite the space being booked for the march almost a year in advance), but the police have demanded a £1,000 ‘donation’ towards the costs of policing the march. In London some demonstrators have faced demands that they hire ‘event management companies’ to steward events at a cost of £5,000, potentially pricing many working class organisations out of holding demonstrations altogether. Our movement must fight these attempts to deny our democratic right to demonstrate our grievances.

Lapides, K. (ed) Marx and Engels on the Trade Union Movement
Yorkshire Post, Monday 5 th May, pg5 ‘Meeting in Leeds’
Leeds Mercury, Monday 5 th May, p5

Leeds - History

Raffle Winner

The prize portion of the 2021 Leeds Civic Association’s.

2021 Membership

It’s that time of year to renew your LCA membership.

New Date – Leeds History Hot Chocolate Social

Thursday, April 3rd, 6:30-8:30pm Leeds School Music Room Rescheduled History Night…hopefully without snow! You are invited to this casual sharing of Leeds stories, old photos, and memorabilia. There will be a slide show with images from 1950 of the Leeds 100th anniversary celebration, old class photos, and pictures of the village in the 1800 and 1900s. Watch the show, listen. Read More

History Night

Posted by justin on January 20, 2014 · Leave a Comment

You and your old and new friends are invited to this casual sharing of stories, old photos, and Leeds memorabilia. Listen to or tell tales of Leeds from “back in the day” while enjoying a cup of hot cocoa and delicious desserts! April 3rd, 6:30 – 8:30 pm LEEDS SCHOOL MUSIC ROOM Do you have an interesting, funny, or unusual Leeds’ artifact? If so, please consider sharing. Read More

Intro to the Gazette Series about Leeds, by Alice Manning, 1975

On the last weekend of August 1950, Leeds held a gala celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the naming the village. The old bell was rung – the same bell that summoned the workers to their tasks at the Nonotuck Silk Mill (now the Leeds Village Apartments), once an important contributor to the giant silk industry which made the area famous. As the harsh tones of the. Read More

Robert Emrick – My Grandfather

Posted by justin on September 6, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Back before many of the prominent businessmen moved to Leeds, the town was considered “the sticks” and had very little fire protection. When a disastrous fire broke out on East Center Street in 1923 my grandfather started a movement in Northampton to get the first motorized fire pump called “The Seagrave” and an additional six fireboxes installed in Leeds. This is also what. Read More

State Police Barracks in Leeds

By Joel Emrick A little known chapter in the history of Leeds was when the MA. State Police Barracks (Troop B) was stationed in the Shepard House which lies between the Grove Hill mansion and the Grammar School. In the early 1920s the State Police were based in the Armory on King Street but were forced to relocate due to the expansion of the National Guard which needed more of the. Read More

History Notes: Frank Parker, Flood Survivor

By Joel Emrick My memories of Frank Parker are of an old man sitting on his porch at 16 Upland Road with his dog, Bakki, who we were told was a German war dog. Bakki would always chase passersby although now I’m told by Red Green if you put your hand up the dog would stop. No one told me that at the time and I didn’t dilly dally when I went by their house. What makes Mr. Parker. Read More

A Short History of Leeds

Posted by justin on February 15, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Leeds, Massachusetts, is a geat neighborhood within the city of Northampton and the most distant from the center. Like Florence and Bay State, the other districts in the community with distinctive identities, its history is linked to the Mill River. The exact boundaries of Leeds have never been agreed on. Whether the Veterans Hospital is in Leeds or Florence has never been resolved. Read More

Leeds, MO, 37th Street

Thirty-seventh, the main street in Leeds, is shown in a photographic post card in black and white mailed in 1917. Telephone poles line the dirt road. Homes as well as business houses, such as a feed store, the Renick greenhouse and flower shop and the Leeds horseshoeing shop are pictured.(After the Harry S. Truman sports complex was completed in 1972, 37th Street was renamed Stadium Drive.) In 1926 a report on the resources and opportunities of Jackson County stated: Although within the corporate limits of Kansas City, Leeds is a municipality within a municipality. Leeds has many manufacturing plants and is the location of 13 greenhouses, from whence comes approximately 90 percent of all the home-grown cut flowers used in Kansas City. The Howe and Renick greenhouses, with 70,000 square feet of space are the largest in the district. The rose production here this year will run close to the million mark. During the winter months it takes more than 25 carloads of coal to heat the glass-enclosed houses. In addition to the 13 greenhouses, Leeds boasts of a railroad tie-treating plant, which has an output of more than 100,000 ties a month, three rock quarries, a woodworking plant in which wooden parts for automobiles are manufactured a coal, grain and feed mill concern a concrete products company two ice plants and a lumber concern. These in addition to many retail stores create lucrative employment for many persons. The district also is the location of a branch of the Kansas City Telephone Co., the Blue Valley Bank, police station, fire station, two churches and a post office. Modern improvements similar to those enjoyed within the heart of Kansas City have been installed in Leeds. Plans now are under way for the construction of a steel mill, which will be the second largest plant west of Chicago. A map of the area drawn by a Journal-Post staff artist was included in the report and showed the course of the Blue River through the district, and four railroads serving the area. The Leeds assembly plant of General Motors was built in 1928, and production began the next year. The company recently observed its 50th anniversary there with a three-day celebration. The post card was furnished by Annette (Smart) Epperson of Sumner, Mo., who wrote: This is a post card of Leeds, Mo., in 1917. Most of the business places at that time were owned and operated by the Renick families of Leeds, our relatives. Kansas City Times, September 21, 1979.

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What did your Leeds ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Laborer and Secretary were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Leeds. 14% of Leeds men worked as a Laborer and 11% of Leeds women worked as a Secretary. Some less common occupations for Americans named Leeds were Clerk and Waitress .

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

Top Female Occupations in 1940

Town History

The Town of Leeds is located in southern Columbia County, Wisconsin. The adjacent Towns include Arlington, Dekorra, Lowville, Hampden in Columbia County and the Town of Windsor in Dane County.

There are four crossroad communities which include North Leeds, South Leeds, Leeds Center and Keyeser. The City of Portage is located approximately 15 miles northwest of the Town. Downtown Milwaukee is about 75 miles southeast of the Town of Leeds and the City of Madison is approximately 25 miles southwest.

USH 51 is the major north-south transportation route in the Town connecting to Interstate Highways 39,90,94 south of the Town. State Highway 22 provides an important north-south route in the northern portion of the Town. County Highway C provides a north-south along the east side of the Town. State Highway 60 in the major east-west route through the Town. CTH DM and K provide alternate east-west routes through the Town. A number of Town roads also provide transportation routes through the Town.

The oldest records that exist state that the Town of Kossuth was established in 1850. The records do not explain why, but a name changed occurred and it became the Town of Leeds in 1852. The big marsh in Leeds has several Indian legends connected with it. Early travel through the Town took place on Indian trails that were in the swamps and woods. The prairie grass was long and thick which made it difficult for horses and oxen to pull wagons. In 1835 a military road was built and settlers started moving into the area around 1843.

LaFayette Hill erected the first log cabin, but during the winter months when he was gone, the Indians burned his cabin. Because of the rich prairie soil about 90 percent of the Town of Leeds is used for agricultural purposes. In the early 1960’s the University of Wisconsin purchased 1,135 acres of land in the Town for an experimental farm.

The first public school was built in 1848 in Leeds Center. Each settler was asked to donate one log and one day of labor to help the school. Unfortunately the school was destroyed by a fire the first winter. The earlier schools had difficulty with language since the children spoke different languages which included Norwegian, German and English.

At first, church services were held in homes. In 1866, the Zion church was built with the lead of Pastor Leifield. He would often walk 18 miles to tend to the spiritual needs of the congregation. Each member signed a contract stating that they were required to pay $30 per year if he owned 80 acres of land. This entitled him to all benefits of the church including a cemetery plot.


The history of three towns&mdashHarrisburg, Silver Reef, and Leeds&mdashis
intricately connected. Harrisburg and Silver Reef are ghost towns today, while Leeds persists. Like many locations in the arid west, water and its availability and accessibility was the determining factor in whether a town lived or withered away.


The first settlement in the area was Harrisburg, founded in 1861 by Moses Harris and a few Mormon families who settled along Quail Creek. Despite their efforts in digging a 5-mile-long irrigation canal along what is now known as Leeds Creek, growth was hampered by rocky soil and limited land available for farming. By 1876 Harrisburg was losing population and essentially failing. Today, remnants of a few pioneer homes and the restored Adams House are all that remain of Historic Harrisburg.

Silver Reef

About the same time Leeds was settled, silver was discovered on the White Reef. This reef, an upturned sandstone ledge, parallels I-15 from Harrisburg to a point north of Leeds. Miners and immigrants, including many of Irish, Cornish, and Chinese origin, rushed to the area with the hope of making their fortunes. The boomtown of Silver Reef sprang up about a mile north of Leeds, and by 1878 was a considerably larger community than either diminishing Harrisburg or the growing farming community of Leeds. At its height, Silver Reef boasted nearly a dozen mines and six ore processing mills, plus retail stores, saloons, hotels, banks, a school, Wells Fargo express office, theater company, and other urban amenities. Leeds and Silver Reef were a study in contrasts. Despite great differences in ethnicity, religion, and culture, the mining boomtown and its agricultural neighbor formed a mutually dependent relationship. The miners at Silver Reef were sustained by produce from Leeds, and Leeds farmers flourished with cash from the miners for their crops. By 1900 Silver Reef had died as the most easily accessible silver ore had been mined and the price of silver plummeted however, the farming community of Leeds survived.


By 1867 the Harrisburg pioneers realized that a place called &ldquoRoad Valley,&rdquo just to the north, was more suitable for diverting water and cultivating farmland. Amidst controversy, but with direction from Mormon leader Erastus Snow, many families moved from Harrisburg to Road Valley. An irrigation ditch was dug and water was brought to the site. The town was organized on December 1, 1867, and named Bennington, in honor of the town&rsquos bishop, Benjamin Stringham. Bishop Stringham later requested that the town be named after Leeds, England, where he had served as a Mormon missionary. In May of 1869, Bennington became Leeds.

From Schoolhouse to Town Hall: A Building on the Move
The History of the Leeds Town Hall

From Native American Trail to Interstate Exit
Leeds Transportation

The Sarah Ann and William Stirling Home
Given a Fortune for Averting Misfortune

The fascinating history of the ancient Leeds hamlet which dates back 500 years

Not much is known about one Leeds area, which was once a hamlet and one of the most pleasant areas to live.

Little Woodhouse is located in the city centre and is named after an ancient hamlet which once stood on the present site of the Clarendon Wing at Leeds General Infirmary.

Many consider the area as Hyde Park without acknowledging the area actually has its own unique name.

In present-day, the surviving Victorian buildings can be seen around the city centre with the modern buildings and homes in the area, preserving its “visible present history”.

In 1715, Leeds historian Ralph Thoresby called it “One of the Pleasantest Hamlets in the Parish” and Little Woodhouse is recorded in documents as early as the 16th century, according to a document by Leeds City Council.

The document states the area was once used as “the Lord’s Waste” during the middle ages but eventually turned into rough scrubland that eventually became developed by farmers.

Sometime between the 15th and 16th centuries, it passed into the possession of Kirkstall Abbey.

The document states: “The boundary between the manor of Headingley cum Burley and the manor of Leeds ran approximately down the present Hyde Park Road, into lower Woodsley Road, dividing the patch into two. The boundary was marked by the Gray Stone, which stood until the mid 19th century on the road outside 122 Burley Road.

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“When Kirkstall Abbey was closed in 1539 the land passed to the Crown and was given to Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was executed during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor in 1556 but managed to save the title to the land for his young son, also called Thomas Cranmer, who inherited it in Queen Elizabeth’s time. Thomas junior lived on his estate, possibly at Headingley, but when he failed to pay his dues the land reverted back to the Crown

“In 1583 John Kendal bought the Little Woodhouse share of the land, extending up to Woodhouse Moor. He lived on the estate giving his name to Kendal Lane. In 1599 he left his property to his daughter, Grace Marston, for life, and then to his two grandsons Robert Jakes and Thomas Casson. Thomas Casson parted with his share to William Dawson, a London merchant.

"He sold it on in 1618 to John Harrison, an important Leeds townsman and rich merchant, famous for building St John’s Church, which still stands as a redundant church off Upper Briggate behind the St John’s Centre.”