City Guide

Leeds

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Introduction to Leeds

Home to actor Peter O’Toole, singer Mel B of the Spice Girls and punk rockers the Kaiser Chiefs, the city of Leeds is a vibrant and lively metropolis nestled in the Yorkshire midlands. The Industrial Revolution shaped Leeds as a major industrial centre for the production and trade of wool during the 19th century. The 20th century witnessed the development of Leeds as a centre for higher education and commerce in the establishment of multiple universities and businesses.

Today, Leeds is recognised across the world as one of eight of Britain’s core cities, drawing legions of visitors from their respective regions and beyond. Leeds is the largest city in all of Yorkshire, boasting some of England’s finest alumni who have gone on to impact the world globally through the arts, business, education, research and politics.

Geography

Located in West Yorkshire in the North of England, the Leeds Metropolitan district throbs to the pulse of thousands of shoppers, visitors, students and professionals on a daily basis. Beyond the cluttered high streets of the city centre, the greater City of Leeds is composed of nearly 70 other districts of which all are easily accessible by bus, coach, train or air.

Economy

As one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, Omis Research nominated Leeds as ‘Britain’s Best City for Business’ in 2003. Second to London, Leeds has the largest financial centre in England and developing retail outlets, offices, media corporations and call centres provide a strong backbone to the city’s continued economic growth.

Development

Renovations are underway within the Leeds city centre and in its environs. Developments include additions to the beloved Headrow Shopping Centre, the eccentric shopping plaza the Corn Exchange and Leeds Metropolitan University. The city’s charming Millennium Square and riverside Clarence Dock districts have both been successfully redeveloped into two thriving landmark locations of the city centre. Sixteen new skyscrapers are currently under development for the city centre.

The city centre

Listed below are a few of the most frequently visited streets and destinations throughout the city centre. You can find most of your necessities on, within, or near-by one of the places listed.

The Briggate: Boasting some of the best shopping outlets, Leeds cobblestone Briggate hosts an array of shops, pubs, restaurants and services for all ages. Come Monday through Sunday, the Briggate is jammed full of shoppers, street vendors and performers and businesses offering free samples and goodies (a student’s dream!).

The Arcades: Dotted throughout the city and found adjacent to the Briggate, Leeds’s Victorian arcades are home to unique and trendy boutiques, world famous department stores and designer outlets such as Debenhams, Harvey Nichols, Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton. The breathtaking ‘Victoria Quarter’ is filled with gold leaf and stained glass design elements and connects with several other similarly stunning arcades. This is not a suitable place to consider spending your student loan on but it is instead a great place to take loads of photos of the shop exteriors and of the historic architectural design of the building itself.

The Corn Exchange: Built in 1864, this large circular building, was (as the name suggests) a venue for corn exchange among locals. Later, the Corn Exchange was converted into a shopping venue, but decided in November 2007 the centre is to be converted into a food emporium.

Kirkgate Market: Leeds' Kirkgate Market is the second largest covered vendors market in Europe, following Leicester's covered market. The 800 stalls of Kirkgate market offer everything from household cleaning products, knitting materials, fresh and local fruits and vegetables, a fishmongers' row, a butchers' row, several delis, café and takeaways, toys, new and second hand clothing, electrical equipment, bakeries, bulk food shops and fancy dress outlets. The market is a perfect destination for students to find the cheapest produce, meats and household necessities. Every first and second Sunday, the market closes it doors and moves outside where dozens of local merchants and producers set up outdoor stalls of cheeses, meats, produce, breads and other hand crafted goods at very reasonable prices and not before you try a sample of each variety on sale!

The Shopping Plazas: Within a three-mile radius of the city centre, Leeds holds five separate shopping plazas, all which promote several popular retail outlets, service shops, restaurants, and entertainment and health facilities, all at reasonable prices. Several plans are in process and are even underway for several of Leeds shopping plazas, with a goal to include over 300 new retail and food outlets within the next few years. Leeds’ ‘The Light’ shopping plaza is a student’s one-stop destination for trendy clothing, quality food, a 13-screen cinema, a health club, an NHS drop in centre and NU bar, a favourite student bar/nightclub. Found skirting the edges of the city centre are several other shopping plazas including Birstall Retail Park, the White Rose Centre and Headingley’s Arndale Centre.

Commercial Street: Home to every mobile phone network, bank and several other common shops, Commercial Street runs just off the Briggate and is the perfect place for any student to purchase a new phone, find a bank or sample the latest bean by Costa Coffee.

Granary Warf/Clarence Dock: The perfect place to sit underneath a shaded umbrella on the banks of the River Aire and enjoy a glass of your favourite tipple in the southern part of town. Some of Leeds’ finest restaurants and trendiest after-work venues dot the bank of the river and offer refreshing views of the river and local neighbourhood. A short stroll further south down the river bank will lead right to the Royal Armouries. It houses a huge collection of armour, war memorabilia and exhibition portraying oriental, hunting, tournament, self-defence and war artefacts and items. It has an open courtyard used to exhibit historic skilled trades, falconry and hunting demonstrations and medieval jousting.

Just outside the city centre

Hyde Park & Headingley: Leeds' largest student population flock to these districts to find homes after their first year. They are within close proximity to the university and their reputed student venues and discounted services. Here you can find students flooding the pavement from mid-morning until late in the evening on their commute to university or running errands to the local supermarkets and shops. Both Headingley and Hyde Park have an array of retail venues, restaurants and other service shops, which appeal to the student budget and lifestyle. The areas are also home to several churches, community groups, residential areas, and primary schools.