I bet most of you reading this have lived in Leeds for most of your lives (if not all!) and I can also bet that you won’t have heard of many of these interesting facts about the place that you live in. Have a read through – you’ll be surprised at the history of Leeds!

1. Cluedo

an old version of the board game cludeo
Leeds is the home of an all-time favourite board game – Cluedo. Board game makers, Waddington’s, and their team of creators first designed and made the first ever board for Cluedo in 1949.


2. Marks & Spencer’s Was Born in Leeds!

old marks and spencers stall in leeds market
In 1884, a man called Michael Marks opened a penny bazaar stall in Leeds market. Fast forward ten years and he enlisted the help of Tom Spencer; they became business partners and Marks & Spencer’s was formed. Not long after, they moved to a permanent spot just a short distance away – and the rest is history!


3. We Are Home to The First Ever Commercial Railway

old steam train passing through middleton railway leeds
Middleton Colliery Railway, first built in 1758, is the world’s oldest commercial railway – wow!


4. The Tallest Maypole

a large maypole in leeds
In a small village called Barwick-In-Elmet stands the U. K’s tallest maypole; standing at a massive 86 feet.


5. Pudsey Bear

pudsey bear from BBC charity children in need
Almost 30 years ago, graphic designer Joanna Ball was tasked with creating a new friendly mascot for the BBC’s latest charity – Children in Need. Pudsey was aptly named after Joanna’s hometown.


6. Sooty and Sweep

sooty and sweep tv hand puppets from leeds
Remember those guys? Harry Corbett (the nephew of the ultra-popular fish and chip shop founder; Harry Ramsden) visited Blackpool and bought his son a puppet from a stall in Blackpool in 1948. Fast forward to 1952 and that same puppet inspired the classic kids show; Sooty and Sweep!

7. We Have a Bear Pit!

bear pit in leeds building
Well, that’s news to me! Back in 1840 – Leeds was home to its very own zoological and botanical garden. It shut down in 1848 so didn’t last long, if you drive down Cardigan Road you can still see the bear pit in its full glory.


8. We Contributed to The Design Of The Sydney Opera House

sydney opera house australia
In 1930, Sir Edmund Happold was born. He went on to become a renowned structural engineer and helped on projects for some of the world’s most famous buildings. Sydney Opera House, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Riyadh Conference Centre to name but a few.


9. Jelly Tots Were Invented Here

jelly tots invented in leeds
Well, they were ACCIDENTALLY invented. A scientist from Horsforth called Brian Boffey was experimenting with powdered jelly and ended up discovering jelly tots – thank you Brian, yum!


10. Yorkshire Flat Caps

two men wearing flap caps holding horse shoes
Of course, the last manufacturer of the Yorkshire classic – the flat cap – happened to be in our own city of Leeds; Holbeck to be precise. JW Myers were the biggest producer of flat caps in the whole wide world during the 1920’s but, in the early 2000’s manufacturing costs had gotten so high that they were forced to close their Leeds based factory and move production to China.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog of interesting facts about Leeds. Any that I’ve missed out? Let us know!

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