LEEDS: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1829.


"LEEDS, the principal seat of the woollen manufacture in England; large and well built, it is a market town and borough, in the wapentake of Skyrack, and in the liberty of the honour of Pontefract, west riding, is 186 miles from London, 41 from Manchester, 25 from York, 16 from Huddersfield, 13 from Pontefract, and 9 from Wakefield. The town stands on the slope and partly on the summit of a hill which rises from the north bank of the river Aire, and from the top declines into the east, west and north; it extends about a mile and a halt along the river from east to west, but is not quite a mile in breadth from south to north. The northern is connected with the southern part of the town by a substantial free-stone bridge, over which the traffic is so immense as to have long ago suggested the necessity for additional bridges to communicate with the heart of the town. Leeds has long been famous as a place pre-eminently superior to any other for trade and commerce, from being so advantageously placed, as it were, in the very heart of the navigation of the county, which communicates in every direction with almost every navigable river or canal in the kingdom, affording to the merchants and manufacturers an expeditious and cheap intercourse will) those of other places, which otherwise could not be obtained. The extent of articles in the woollen trade manufactured in the town and neighbourhood, exceeds that of any other place in England, and the great improvements made in the quality has rendered them equal to those made in the western counties. The principal produce of the manufactures are a coarse kind of broad and narrow cloths, pelisse cloths, shawls in great variety, stuffs, Scots camblets, blankets, &c. &c. Also the spinning of flax for canvas, linen, sacking, thread, &c. and the cotton trade is increasing in magnitude : in the neighbourhood are several iron foundries, glass works and potteries. In the vicinity art numerous coalmines, which yield abundance of fuel for the supply of the steam engines belonging to the various manufactories, as well as to the inhabitants at large. Two very extensive cloth balls are open every Tuesday and Saturday, where the merchants only are allowed to purchase : the mixed-cloth hall was erected in 1758; it is a quadrangular building, 128 yards long, and 66 yards wide, divided into six departments, called streets, each containing two rows of stands, which are marked with the owner's name-the total number of stands are 1800. The white cloth hall, similar in extent and design, was erected in the year 1775. The cloth is brought to these halls in an unfinished state, and is dressed under the superintendance of the merchants, who keep extensive steam mills and employ great numbers of men and boys for the purpose. The other principal public buildings, besides those for divine worship are, the new court-house and prison, admired as a beautiful and finished specimen of modern architecture, and for its interior accommodation; the first stone was laid in September, 1811, and the whole was completed in 1813. The philosophical hall is a handsome stone edifice, built for the purpose of the Leeds Literary and Philosophical Society holding their discussions in. The horse barracks, completed on a very extensive scale, are situated near Buslingthorpe, the expense of erecting this establishment was it rayed by a grant of £28,000. from government; the building, with the parade grounds, &c. occupy a space of about eleven acres. The gas works, in York-street, supply the inhabitants with the use of that invaluable light; all the principal streets, most of the manufactories, and shops, are brilliantly illuminated. The company to whom these works belong are sanctioned by an act of parliament, and were established in 1818. The oil gas company, a more recent acquisition to the town, was established in 1824, and the light furnished by these works is highly approved. A beautiful edifice has just been completed, called the commercial buildings, or exchange news rooms, situated near the entrance into the coloured cloth hall; this building is of stone with a circular front or portico, embellished with elegant and massive columns. The corn exchange is very advantageously situated at the top of Briggate, and commands a prospect of one of the best trading streets in the town. The erection is fronted with stone, and upon the exterior is an excellent clock, underneath which, is a fine sculptured full length figure of Queen Anne, in black marble.

The borough of Leeds received its first charter from Charles I. in the year 1626, since which period two others have been granted, one by Charles II. in 1661, and the other by James II. in 1684: the corporate body, as at present constituted, consists of a mayor, twelve aldermen, a recorder, town clerk, and common council, of twenty-four persons. The subordinate officers of the police consist of a chief constable, deputy constable, gaoler, and beadle. The mayor and aldermen, have within the borough the same power as is derived by a commission of the peace; and the chief magistrate, with one of the aldermen at least, attends at the rotation office every Tuesday and Friday for the execution of their numerous duties. A session is held for the borough every three mouths, viz, in January, April, July and October, at which the mayor presides. The general quarter sessions of the riding are held here at Michaelmas every year, at which the riding magistrates attend, and elect one of their own body as chairman. A vagrant office was made an appendage to the police of Leeds in the year 1818, for the suppression of vagrancy; it is situated in Mabgate. The places of public worship, as may be supposed from the population, are numerous. The churches under the establishment are, the parish church of St. Peter's, situated at the bottom of Kirkgate; St. John's, Newstreet; Trinity church, Boar-lane; St. Paul's, Park square; St. James', York-street; Christ church; St. Mark's, Woodhouse; and St. Mary's, Quarry hill. There are besides, no fewer than twenty-five chapels belonging to the various sects of dissenters ant Methodists; all well adapted for the service of the various denominations to whom they are appropriated. The numerous and well-conducted charitable institutions evince to the stranger, that although the inhabitants are generally emerged in commercial pursuits, and busied in their own immediate affairs, the wants of their poorer brethren are not forgotten, but with a spirit truly praise-worthy, and with the most laudable exertion, have brought to maturity establishments that afford every relief to the necessitous poor. The most prominent of these is the general infirmary, situated in a line with the coloured cloth hall, for the purpose of granting medical assistance to all who, either by accident or lingering sickness, require the aid of superior talent to restore them to convalescence, and which by no other means would their incomes allow them to obtain. It is supported by annual subscriptions and voluntary contributions. There are also several charity schools for the education of the younger branches of the industrious poor, and instilling into their minds principles of religion; institutions which are at once creditable to the town, and honourable to their founders and conductors. [A list of the several offices, public buildings and institutions, with their attached officers, will be found under a particular head at the end of the trade directory.] The places of public amusement in this town are neither so numerous, nor so well supported as the charitable institutions: they are, the theatre, in Hunslet-lane, generally open in the months of May and June; the assembly rooms, over the north side of the white cloth-hall; and the concert rooms, in Albion-street, These are several respectable billiard rooms in the town; and amongst the establishments combining relaxation and health, must be mentioned the public baths, opened in 1820, and situated opposite the pleasure ground of the infirmary. In the neighbourhood there are several public gardens, one of them at North-hall, on the Bradford road, and several others at the delightful village of Knostrop. Although the country around Leeds presents a busy scene of manufacturing industry, it must not be inferred that it is deficient in the beauties of nature; on the contrary, the scenery in the vicinity of the town may be considered beautiful, regularly interspersed with gentle acclivities, wood and water; whilst many of the views might well claim the character of picturesque, especially at one point on the road to Bradford, from whence are seen to high advantage the beautiful ruins of Kirkstall abbey. The neighbourhood also boasts numerous gentlemen's seats and handsome mansions, belonging to wealthy individuals; and at Temple Newsom is the fine seat of the Marchioness of Hertford. The market-days are Tuesdays and Saturdays; the first is a large market for corn and the manufactures of the place and neighbourhood; the latter is also a great woollen cloth market, and on this day every commodity for domestic purposes is supplied in abundance. The fairs are on the 10th and 11th of July for horses, and the 8th and 9th of November for horned cattle. The parish of Leeds extends about seven miles from north to south, and somewhat more than seven miles from east to west; it is divided into ten townships, exclusive of the township of Leeds, which includes the village of Woodhouse. The population of the township and borough of Leeds, by the census of 1811, was 62,534 and as taken in 1821, 83,746, at which latter period 48,603 of that number were inhabitants of the town."

"ARMLEY, a manufacturing village and chapelry, in the borough of Leeds, honour of Pontefract and wapentake of Morley, in the west riding, about two miles south-west of Leeds; is eminently distinguished for the manufacture of woollen cloths, which is carried On in this chapelry to a vast extent, chiefly for the Leeds market, and gives employment to a great portion of its population; malt is also made here in considerable quantities; and the village has great advantage of water communication, upon the Leeds and Liverpool canal, which passes by here, and the river Calder runs close by its side. Here is a chapel under the establishment, and one belonging to the Methodists; the benefice of the former is in the gift of the Rev. - Fossitt, vicar of Leeds; and the present incumbent is the Rev. Charles Clapham. Here are two good schools, 'Bethesda school,' under the able mastership of Mr. Joseph Simpson; and 'Armley town's school, with a small endowment; the master to the latter is appointed by the minister of the chapel and the churchwardens for the time being, Benjamin Gott, Esq. of Armley house, in this vicinity is lord of the. manor, and holds a court by his steward (Mr. Bolland, solicitor, of Leeds) annually. The country, a short distance from the village, is agricultural and pleasing; the immediate neighbourhood is chiefly in fine clear pastures, surrounded with good hedges, and the green sward is used by the cloth manufacturers as drying-grounds. In 1821 the number of inhabitants in the chapelry amounted to 4;273,"

"BRAMLEY, a populous township, village and chapelry, in the honour of Pontefract, wapentake of Morley, and in the borough of Leeds, four miles west of that town; situated on high ground, and is noted for its extensive woollen trade, the great portion of the cloths manufactured here being taken to the Leeds market. In the immediate neighbourhood are extensive quarries of stone, the quality of which is excellent, and from its hardness and solidity, well adapted for the purposes of locks, docks, bridges, &c. The places of worship in Bramley are, a chapel of ease under Leeds, and two chapels for dissenters. The country round this village is fertile and productive, presenting from the higher parts of it, views pleasing and extensive. The number of inhabitants in the township, by the census of 1821, was 4,916, being an increase of 1,432 since the parliamentary returns for 1811."

"HEADINGLEY, and BURLEY, are two hamlets, in the borough of Leeds, the former two miles north-west, and the latter the like distance west of, Leeds. The woollen trade, as with Kirkstall, gives employment to the chief portion of the population in these two hamlets, which, with Kirkstall, in 1821, amounted to 2,154 persons."
Note: The directory entry for Headingley in Pigot's 1829 Directory is included with Kirkstall, (in this parish).

"KIRKSTALL, or Kirkstall Bridge, is a hamlet, in the wapentake of Skyrack, west riding, and in the borough of Leeds, three miles from that town, seated on the banks of the river Aire, on which are several mills, employed in the woollen manufacture, as well as in grinding corn, but the former is the chief trade of the place, and is considerable. This village is celebrated for its abbey, which deservedly ranks among the first monastic ruins in the kingdom; the building was finished in 1147, and was amongst the earliest visited and destroyed at the dissolution of monasteries. The abbey now is only a mere shell, with roofless walls, having yet, part of a well-built, but uncovered steeple, and time is slowly, but steadily, diminishing the ruin."

"STANNINGLEY, a manufacturing-village, in the townships of Bramley, Pudsey and Farsley, in the parishes of Calverley and Leeds, and wapentakes of Agbrigg find Morley, is three miles & a half north. east of Bradford, upon the turnpike road between that town and Leeds."
Note: The directory entry for Stanningley in Pigot's 1829 Directory is included with Pudsey, (in this parish).

[Transcribed from Pigot's National Commericial Directory for 1828-29 ]
by Colin Hinson ©2007