Leeds is a thriving, modern and metropolitan city in the heart of the North of England. This city has a fascinating past and a bright future, so here are 10 surprising facts about Leeds by RW Invest.
1) Leeds is the second largest metropolitan district in the country. It extends 13 miles from north to south and 15 miles from east to west. There are a number of towns and rural areas which surround the city of Leeds and are included in the metropolitan district.
2) Leeds is home to the most northerly commercial vineyard in the country. Leventhorpe Vineyard in Woodlesford is open to the public and its wine has earned several awards.
3) Leeds was once home to hippopotami – the remains of a great northern hippo that was found in 1851 in Armley, Leeds. The remains of the hippopotamus can be seen at Leeds City Museum and they are over 100,000 years old.
4) Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the world-famous architect, was born in Leeds. He was responsible for designing the United States Capitol Building in Washington DC and the White House portico. His work can also be seen in Baltimore at the Baltimore Basilica – the first Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States of America.
5) Leeds has one of the biggest shopping areas in the country with 3.5 million feet of retail floorspace, over 1000 shops and five miles of shopping streets. It was also named the best shopping destination in the UK by the Rough Guide to Britain. It is also mainly pedestrianised, so shoppers can browse the many shops safely.
6) Leeds has the most green space in any UK city (apart from London) and it has over 4,000 hectares of parkland and green space. Over 60% of the Leeds district is green belt land which prevents urban sprawl outside of the city. Its beautiful parks include the Roundhay, which is one of the biggest parks in Europe, Golden Acre Park, Woodhouse Moor, Chevin Forest Park and Kirkstall Abbey.
7) Leeds is home to the largest covered market in Europe – Kirkgate Market. This Grade 1 listed building is home to many independent traders, and it was founded in 1875. The market features stunning Victorian architecture and over 400 stalls inside, with a further 200 outside the market. Kirkgate Market was also the birthplace of Marks and Spencer, where Michael Marks opened his penny bazaar in 1884.
8) Leeds is the only English city apart from London which has its own repertory theatre, opera house and ballet company. Northern Ballet and Opera North are some of the most prestigious performing companies in the UK and both are based in Leeds.
9) The Leeds economy is worth over £56 billion a year and its main sectors include financial, legal and business services. It has one of the most diverse economies in the UK, and the economy is forecast to grow by a further 25% over the next ten years.
10) The first moving film in the world was created in Leeds. It was shot at Oakwood Grange, Roundhay by Louis Le Prince – the ‘father of cinematography’. The film was based on a back garden in Leeds. However, Le Prince didn’t get to enjoy the success of his film or unveil it to the public – he vanished on the 16thSeptember 1890.