Published on Monday 7 May 2012 21:01
Think you know everything there is to know about your home city? Here are 30 Leeds facts ranging from the informative and fascinating to the obscure and downright random.
1 Leeds’ motto of ‘Pro rege et lege’ is latin and means ‘For king and the law’.
2 Leeds railway station has 17 platforms and was used by 24.5 million people last year – two-and-a-half million more than the year before.
3 The Golden Triangle – commonly used by estate agents to refer to the area of West and North Yorkshire lying between Harrogate, York and North Leeds – includes Whinmoor, Swarcliffe, Cross Gates and Garforth.
4 Former Leeds MP Denis Healey is the only Chancellor of the Exchequer to have appeared on The Morecambe and Wise Show.
5 Leeds comic Leigh Francis’s character Avid Merrion isn’t named after the shopping centre but Laimonis Mierins, his former lecturer at Leeds College of Art.
6 Architect Cuthbert Brodrick won £200 for his design for what would become Leeds Town Hall.
7 No one seems to know how big Leeds is. A national newspaper recently put it at 430,000, while Bargain Hunt presenter Tim Wonnacott described it as the UK’s ‘ninth biggest city’ when the show was filmed here. Leeds metropolitan district’s current population of 798,800 actually makes it the second biggest in England after Birmingham. London boroughs are counted separately.
8 The city’s coast of arms has three stars taken from the coat of arms of Sir Thomas Danby, its first mayor; fleece to symbolise the wool industry and three owls taken from the coat of arms of Sir John Saville, who was the first Alderman of Leeds.
9 Leeds is home to the country’s most northerly commercial vineyard – Leventhorpe Vineyard in Woodlesford.
10 The late Jimmy Savile claimed he staged the world’s first disco in Leeds in 1943 when he used a microphone and twin turntable decks at a venue in the city.
11 The average house price in Leeds 10 years ago stood at £84,550. Today it’s £164,713.
12 The A58(M) inner ring road was the country’s first urban motorway. The Westgate tunnel also lays claim to being the longest unventilated road tunnel in Europe.
13 Jelly Tots were accidentally discovered in 1967 by Leeds scientist Brian Boffey, from Horsforth. He was trying to come up with a way to produce a powdered jelly that set instantly when it was added to cold water.
14 Leeds is ranked sixth in the list of Britain’s ‘greenest’ cities based on environmental performance and quality of life.
15 Brazilian Soccer Schools started in Leeds in 1996 and now has 600 schools worldwide.
16 Temple Works in Holbeck, home to John Marshall’s 19th Century flax empire, was inspired by the ancient Egyptian Temple of Horus at Edfu. Architect Ignatious Bonomi studied watercolours of Egypt, painted by his brother, to get the design just right.
17 Leeds-born structural engineer Edmund Happold, worked on the construction of international landmarks including the Sydney Opera House, the Millennium Dome and the Pompidou Centre in Paris. His firm Buro Happold now employs 1,600 staff in 30 offices around the globe.
18 Leeds city centre has 3.5 million square feet of retail floorspace, five miles of shopping streets and one of the country’s largest pedestrianised shopping areas.
19 Over two-thirds of the Leeds Metropolitan District is designated green belt land and the city centre is less than 20 miles from the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
20 Leeds is a golfers’ paradise with 21 public and private golf courses. They include Moortown Golf Club, which hosted the 1929 Ryder Cup where the teams included the legendary American Walter Hagen and Percy Alliss, father of BBC commentator Peter.
21 Leeds attracts more annual visitors than traditional holiday destinations including Brighton and Torquay.
22 The Leeds Carnival, which started in 1967, is the oldest Caribbean carnival in Europe.
23 Pablo Fanque, the first black circus proprietor in Britain, is buried in St George’s Fields, now in the middle of the University of Leeds campus. Largely forgotten after his death in 1871, he became famous again as a result of the Beatles song Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite! on the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, where the Henderson family is described as ‘late of Pablo Fanque’s fair.’
24 Charity worker Sue Ryder, who was born in Leeds, was made Baroness Ryder of Warsaw for her efforts for Poland. Her charity operates more than 80 homes worldwide, has about 500 high street charity shops and more than 8,000 volunteers. There is a Sue Ryder charity shop as far afield as the Ascencion Islands.
25 The village of Barwick-in-Elmet has the tallest maypole in Britain at 86ft. There have been several attempts to steal it. Villagers from nearby Aberford once tried to carry it to their village but were forced to abandon it on Aberford Road.
26 When BBC local radio came to Leeds in the mid-1960s, boss Phil Sidey resorted to buying a greyhound and calling it Radio Leeds to ensure the station got a mention in the hostile Yorkshire Evening Post which felt this new competition was unfairly subsidised by taxpayers.
27 Leeds firm JW Myers was the last flat cap manufacturer in Britain before production was moved to Panyu in China in 2000.
28 Popular children’s puppets Sooty and Sweep were invented in Guiseley by Harry Corbett, nephew of fish and chip tycoon Harry Ramsden, who had a spell playing piano in his restaurant.
29 The 71-mile-long River Aire passes through Leeds city centre and 38 other settlements on its way to the River Ouse.
30 Leeds United was formed in 1885 by one Leonard Cooper and played its early matches at Kirkstall and Leeds Albion on Brudenell Road.