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Leeds History

Leeds has a long history dating back to the Romans. It was first mentioned by the Venerable Bede in Anglo-Saxon times when it was called Loidis, thought to mean ‘people of the river’.

Before Anglo-Saxon rule it was part of the Celtic kingdom of Elmet, though by 1086 its population was estimated at around 200 people in the Domesday Book.

The settlement steadily grew in both size and stature over the following centuries, developing on the back of agriculture and the burgeoning wool and cloth trades. By the Middle Ages, Leeds was one of the largest towns in the region, attracting traders and businessmen.

The famous streets of Kirkgate and Briggate were already in existence by 1560, along with a lane that later became Headrow. In the 1770s, the town was responsible for 30% of the country’s woollen exports, most of it bound for Europe via the Humber estuary. The population had risen to 30,000.

During the Industrial Revolution, Leeds’ cloth mills went into mass production and the population increased to over 88,000. Many of the city’s splendid Victorian buildings date from this boom period too including Leeds Town Hall, the Civic Theatre and the iconic domed Corn Exchange, built in 1861.

In the early 20th century, clothing factories sprang up in the city, employing 25% of all women by 1911. They were instrumental in kitting out the British army in military uniform during WWI, and by the 1930s, one factory in Leeds was turning out 30,000 suits a week. But as the 20th century progressed, fewer textile mills and clothing factories were able to survive.

As industry declined, Leeds developed into a financial hub, and nowadays is the second largest legal centre in UK. More recently, it has become particularly associated with retail. 21st century Leeds is vibrant, with shopping, leisure and entertainment options that match any of its neighbours in the north.

Did you know?
• The early inhabitants of Leeds, who are thought to have been Celtic, would have spoken Welsh.
• Leeds was exporting cloth to Holland and Germany as far back as the 17th century, in the days before the great mills that made the city rich and famous.
• Jelly Tots were accidently invented in Leeds in 1967 when scientist Brian Boffey was trying to produce an instantly setting jelly.

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Quebecs

A Grade II listed boutique hotel with 45 rooms, this proper offers refined, classic and contemporary furnishings. Built in 1891 as the former liberal club, it offers a distinctive terracotta facade, wrought iron gates, Corinthian columns and stained glass windows. It's been voted one the world's top 80 hotels by Conde Nast Traveller.

Oak Villa B&B

This charming friendly B&B is situated close to Headingley Cricket Ground and is set in the heart of a pleasant wooded conservation area. The Victorian house has free parking Wi-Fi and a licensed bar. Some rooms have en-suites and there are different sized rooms. The hotel is just 1.5 miles from the city centre.

Malmaison

In a grand former bus and tram office, the Leeds branch of this popular chain offers stylish and contemporary rooms that all come with CD and DVD players as standard by the River Aire. There are 100 stylish rooms while British classics feature strongly on the menu.

Travelodge Leeds Central

This hotel offers good value, functional rooms at a convenient location that's close to the train station.

Queens Hotel

For location, this landmark hotel is unbeatable. Adjacent to the railway station and overlooking City Square, it's a stone's throw from all the action. With 215 rooms, an executive floor and two dining options, it is a large hotel with plenty of amenities and top notch service.

Met Hotel

This fabulously-ornate Grade II listed building has recently been refurbished and offers guests elegant, spacious rooms, a terracotta exterior and ornate furnishings. It's located in the business district but is still close to all the restaurant, shops and nightlife action.