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Leeds >  Google™ Map May 2019  Leeds Coat of Arms

ladenses Brythonic people of the fast-flowing river (name). Population - 789,194.

England-West Yorkshire Flag UK > England > West Yorkshire

May 2019

Leeds Coat of Arms

The first time for a while, this, in the 'Capital of the North'. The good folk of Manchester[1] might have something to say about that but they're a proud bunch this side of the Pennines so it's a whistle-stop whirl of what's on offer.

That and a family gathering, actually, hence the small window of opportunity. Starting at the train station, there's plenty to catch the eye, a waterier-than-expected environment and a chance for some retail therapy.

Hang on! Did you just say 'retail therapy'? We've been perusing this nonsense periodically and very much admire your irreverent take on the travel guide and imaginative avoidance of the cliché but 'retail therapy'? Really?

You'll be telling us you 'tripped the light fantastic' next. Retail therapy? Come on!

[1] See also Liverpool, York and, at a push, Hull but more on that in a minute.

Emerging from the train station, the first thing to catch the eye is the Queens Hotel and while this may be Art Deco, there's not much decorum on show.

Leeds - Queens Hotel

The sunny, Bank Holiday weekend has large groups of plastered ladies wearing lots of fake tan but not much else, you see, making this native's hometown of Newcastle look like Saudi Arabia on a Saturday night, eh?

It's enough to make Edward the Black Prince fall off his horse but here's a thing, it's thought the farthest he ever ventured north was Chester.

Leeds - Black Prince Statue

Following the acquiring of city status in 1893, a big bit of bronze was required but there simply wasn't someone famous enough from Leeds and the 14th-century master of chivalry, or brutal executioner depending on your side of the channel, has been a talking point ever since.

It's not thought, however, that there's a current campaign to replace him with Darren Gough on a donkey but Barnsley and Scarborough are closer than a royal knight from Oxford, surely?

It was cotton, not the suspected coal, that got Leeds rich and the imposing, industrial-era architecture casts shadows as long as the links to the slave trade.

Leeds - City Square

Bumbling around the area north of the train station, it all lends Leeds a look that isn't totally spoiled by what the pen-pushers at City Hall saw as progress, probably.

Leeds - The Met Hotel
Leeds - City Square
  La Bottega Milanese (2 Bond Court)

Top-notch coffee and a fantastic array of Italian specialities including the posh focaccia sandwich, something their nation tends to do rather well. There's more Mediterranean representation just outside with a, very much, French pétanque player, pardon?

Leeds - 'The Boules Players'

He's demonstrating the game to a pair of bemused, Yorkshire folk, apparently. Leeds is twinned with Lille, you see, and this celebrates the association with an annual tournament played on a real court right in front.

Speaking of City Hall, this is Leeds Town Hall with the 1850s a time before city status, remember?

Leeds Town Hall

The pen-pushers were pushed out to a new, Art Deco Civic Hall, not shown, in the '30s but this is Leeds' most prominent landmark, probably. It looks like it'll be nice when it's finished, sometime in 2024, they say. when its main use as a concert venue can continue.

All this by Cuthbert Brodrick, a noted, Yorkshire architect with Hull still about just qualifying. The one next door isn't, as first thought, one of his, though, with the Leeds Art Gallery coming some 30 years later.

Leeds Art Gallery

For more of Brodrick's handiwork, it's only five minutes up to Leeds City Museum but who has time for either with the clock ticking down?

  The Cuthbert Brodrick (Portland Crescent) wetherspoon

The Spoons have a tradition of naming their pubs based on the history of the town or the old building they invariably inhabit. One of four inevitable offerings, it's thought, in a city of this size is called the Cuthbert Brodrick and it's now known who he was.

There are no awards for their nearly-out-of-date ale but the Director of Contrived Waterhole Naming gets an obscure (3/5) since Brodrick wasn't considered high-profile enough to sit astride a horse. Brodrick was also behind the, now demolished, public baths but this place swims with a variety of very different fluids, these days.

Elsewhere, they very nearly get a full (5/5) for the stat-smashing spin bowler Hedley Verity although you'll have to head off in the direction of Headingly for that.

Heading east along The Headrow brings you to Leeds' main shopping area and Victoria Quarter is one of the main draws for those fond of some, here you go, retail therapy. With their quota of quarters already used up[1], however, doesn't that mean the pen-pushers at Civic Hall can't count?

It would seem so and it's subsequently been downgraded to a 'District' but here is home to a handful of fine, Victorian shopping arcades.

Leeds - County Arcade

Designed by famed, theatre architect Frank Matcham, the ornate interiors remain and cater to those with a healthy and wealthy flexible friend.

[1] Arena, Civic, Cultural and Financial although there looks to be some overlap.

This reputation for prosperous purchasing convinced Harvey Nichols, no less, to open their first store outside of London up here although Manchester and Edinburgh have since caught up.

Leeds - Briggate
Leeds - Trinity Shopping Centre

Trinity Leeds, however, is more of a modern, shopping abomination and, sorry Leeds, could just about be anywhere.

One of the ladies in a prosecco-fuelled pack is advised to nip back out to Harvey Nick™s to pick up a more modest pair, of knicks, that is. Bob inadvertently copped a right eyeful on the escalator up.

  City Varieties Music Hall (Swan Street)

Proper old-skool Music Hall from the mid-1800s although they've since stuck a glass bit on the side and the music and comedy is of the largely contemporary variety.

Leeds - City Varieties Music Hall

They do, however, also host regular recreations of a Victorian evening's entertainment advertised as, aww, what was it called again?... The Good Old Days!

Yes, where a pint down The Old Bull and Bush was a distant memory for everyone not too long ago.

For fans of less fanciful, purchasable fayre, Kirkgate Market is, depending on who you ask or Google™, either one of the largest indoor markets or the largest covered market in Europe.

Leeds - Kirkgate Market

The central 1875 Hall is a clue to the age while the 1976 and 1981 Halls hint at the fire that demanded some rebuilding. 100,000 visitors a week, they say, just not Sundays so the Victorian vibe is confined to the arcades today.

Just down and there's evidence of some slightly earlier era trading at the old Corn Exchange. Another one from Cuthbert Brodrick's considerable portfolio, they're still trading but now it's boutique and independent retailers.

Leeds - Corn Exchange

Not so much rye bags more like buy rags from a retro-vintage-fashion outlet, these days, eh?

It's an ideal candidate for a Wetherspoon™s but they already look to have Leeds covered and were clearly too late to the lease. Besides, the Director of Contrived Waterhole Naming would only have called it the Corn Exchange (0/5) and you can already go to Leicester, Bury St Edmunds or even Arbroath for that.

It's a short hop through Leeds' LGBT 'district' called 'The Calls', locally speaking.

Leeds - Bridge End

That might be rooted in some old Roman path, or something, and with a high concentration of hipster fleshpots, advising trippers award the area at least IV out of V for a night out.

The imaginatively named Leeds Bridge is exactly where it says it is and does exactly what it says it does. With all of the ingredients locally sourced, the 1870 cast iron replaced a medieval effort that looks to have lasted longer than expected.

Leeds Bridge

The bridge is over the River Aire, of course, and the watery divide marks a distinct change of scenery. Gone is all the industrial-era architecture, well almost, to be replaced with countless blocks of glassy, generic gentrification that, sorry Leeds again, could just about be anywhere.

Leeds Bridge House
Leeds - Generic Gentrification

Absolutely everybody, yes everybody, living in Central Leeds works in a call centre, you see, yes everybody[1]. One of the trappings of that lifestyle is to live in a rented shoebox with cardboard walls only half of whom have a view of a waterway, anyway.

Seriously, there must be thousands and this can be the only possible explanation for the scale of this construction, surely?

[1] This much appears to be nearly true.

It's only natural to want to follow the river but some zig-zagging down Dock Street is required.

Leeds - Dock Street

It looks like a rare case of renovating rather than rebuilding but soon after crossing a main road, here is the motherlode of riverside redevelopments.

Leeds Dock, formerly Leeds Dock South Bank, tells you all you need to know, really, but some rebranding was required after the initial attempt to tempt failed.

Leeds Dock
Leeds - River Aire

It also marks the end of the Aire and Calder Navigation, a marvellously named stretch of early-18th-century waterway designed to get coal in and wool out of the city.

Not that too much of it is known other than a friend of a friend of a friend knew the bass player in a bunch of relatively unknown indie popsters who recorded a rather good  song that namechecks it as a melancholic metaphor for something, or something.

  Royal Armouries Museum (Armouries Drive)

Leeds Dock is a mixed-use development where you can eat, sleep, work and... freely celebrate warfare in all of its forms.

Leeds - Royal Armouries Museum

Yes, you've all seen it signposted off the A1(M) but there was no idea it was bang-bang in the city centre. Who knew Wellington was nearly outflanked at Waterloo[1] and who doesn't want to fire a crossbow?

Benjamin! Stop disembowelling your brother in the gift shop and put that sword back, now! Honestly.

[1] Quite a few people if this sort of thing is your thing, apparently.

There's a water taxi option if the increasing kms are making the old legs weary and it's run by a no-nonsense Yorkshireman who doesn't know if he can be bothered to bring you back or not.

Leeds - Water Taxi

Far better, though, is to head back over the busy road and through the big Brewery Wharf Car Park, like that's not enough of a clue.

The old headquarters of the Tetleys Brewery is now a small arts centre and the brewery site is, well, now a big car park with the word 'Wharf' in it.

Leeds - The Tetley

The thirst-quenching entrepreneurs Joshua and Joseph Tetley made their money in beer and tea respectively and were related in the same way that PG Wodehouse and PG Tips were i.e. they weren't.

The brewery lasted until 2011 when the weekly whiff moved south to Wolverhampton, or wherever, long since swallowed by some big, thirsty multinational or other

They'll let you in and around for nowt and today's main exhibition is certainly graphic but more in an informative kind of way on the death of David Oluwale in 1969 following systematic, racist harassment by the police.

Leeds - The Tetley - INT. DAY
Leeds - The Tetley - INT. DAY

There's access most areas via the original staircase including the old boardroom where Joshua plotted to have Tetley™s on tap in every pub in Leeds by the 1970s, probably.

That's a plan that worked out very well, as it happened, but it's not all about the Tetley™s back downstairs in a glass cabinet full of unopened bottles of retro booze.

Leeds - The Tetley - INT. DAY

As a former and junior tegestologist, this is the highlight of the weekend, actually, and they're all there from the golden ale days of ale... Skol™, Ind Coope™, Courage™ and  Whitbread™ in a maltily informative and less-monopolistic display, or is it?

See that bottle of Carlsberg™ Elephant Ale circa 1977? Carlsberg™ would go on to acquire at some point, if they hadn't already, all of the brands you see, Tetley™s included, you see.

Craft beer botherers will be tugging on their foot-long beards bemoaning the global corporisation of their beloved obsession with the barley. Relax man, this has been going on since the '60s so you might want to think about that the next time you're supping from a tiny tin of Camden Hells.

 We don't brew bitter... Yes you do.
We don't brew mild... Yes you do.
We don't brew stout... Yes you do.
We don't brew cider... Yes you do.

Just not in the traditional, family-run kind of way that your branding sometimes suggests and they're still at it following a merger with Marston's in 2020.

  Leeds City Walking Tours

There's a lady downstairs advertising, get this, two-hour walking tours of Leeds like you can't believe the cheek of it, neither. SlyBob's interest was immediately piqued, curious as to whether her history is as meticulously researched as some of this, erm, content.

Looking at Rachael's C.V., that would seem to be the case although it's not thought her factualities are nearly so informative on the Wetherspoon™s or Carlsberg™ front.

Had you taken the water taxi, it brings you here to Granary Wharf, another reclaimed piece of riverside with Bridgewater Place, aka 'The Dalek', in the background.

Leeds - Granary Wharf

Leeds' tallest building can be seen from 25 miles away, they say, so that supposedly includes from the top of Ilkley Moor, with or without a suitable form of headwear?

Here also marks the start of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, a far more convenient conduit for international exports than the Aire and Calder to Humberside.

Leeds-Liverpool Canal

It's possible that bags of flour made their way west from here but Granary Wharf is more of a 20th-century invention and it sounds a lot less intimidating than the 'Dark Arches'. The Dark Arches?

They are what Leeds Train Station sits on, a network of Victorian tunnels through which the River Aire still flows with a right musty whiff.

Leeds - The Dark Arches
Leeds - River Aire
Leeds - Granary Wharf

They were built to span the river to support the original station and some of the 1860s arches have been repurposed as much-to-be-expected fleshpots making for a very different kind of customer service to that on offer here up until the early '90s, they say.

It's up and into the station to finish full circle where, get this, there's yet another Wetherspoon™s. No name for this one, not even 'The Station' and quite a few lagered-up Leodensians are making the most of it before making their way back to Morley, or wherever.

It's such a shame after a lovely afternoon out and watching the people get lairy, it's not very pretty I tell thee.

Some even think there might be a  bit of bother later, right kids?