LEEDS: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.


"LEEDS, is a market town, and by the Reform Bill created a parliamentary borough, in the parish of its name, having a separate jurisdiction, locally situate in the wapentake of Skyrack, West Riding ; 186 miles from London, 28 n.w. from Doncaster, 24 s.w. from York, 16 n.e. from Huddersfield, 13 n.w. from Pontefract, 9 n. from Wakefield, 40 n.e. from Manchester, and 45 n. from Chesterfield. The name of ' Leeds ', according to Bede, is derived from Leodys, or Loidis, and in Domesday survey, Ledes ; the former name obtained from Loidi, the Saxon possessor. This town is the principal seat of the woollen manufacture in England ; situate 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 half 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. In 1827, therefore, the ' Monk Bridge' was erected ; which besides the suspension arch, spanning the river Aire, there are two small land arches, and a 24 feet eliptical one over the Leeds & Liverpool canal, which at this point is only about 50 feet from the river. This erection has, from its novelty, been aptly termed the Bow and String Suspension Bridge. Instead of the chains -- the usual means of suspension, two strong cast iron arcs span over the whole space between the two abutments. The suspending arch is 152 feet wide, spanning over the river Aire and the towing or hauling path, and there is besides, a small land arch of stone on each side. The total length of this bridge is 260 feet ; span of the suspension arch 112 feet, width of the bridge 36 feet. The total cost, including the canal bridge, &c. was about 4,800 : it was executed from the designs and under the direction of Mr. George Leather, engineer, of Leeds. There has also been another suspension bridge, erected at Hunslet (in 1832), over the Aire, by the same engineer, who superintended the construction of Monk bridge, and upon the same novel principle. The entire length of this bridge is 240 feet, and width 38 feet : the total expense was about 4,200. In 1829 was completed a new foot bridge, over the Aire, at School close.

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 all directions with nearly every navigable river or canal in the kingdom, affording to the merchants and manufacturers an expeditious and cheap intercourse with those of other places, which otherwise could not be obtained. The improvements in the Aire and Calder navigation, when completed, will allow vessels of 120 tons burthen to come direct from sea (by the port of Goole) up to Leeds, without any part of the cargo being removed before it reaches the place of its destination : and the railway from Selby to this town, which, it is expected, will be opened in September 1834, will afford an additional line of communication with the East Riding and the Humber. The extent of articles in the woollen and stuff trade, manufactured in the town and neighbourhood, exceeds that of any other place in England, and the great improvements made in the quality of the woollen cloths, has rendered them equal to those made in the western counties. The principal produce of the manufactures are superfine broad and coarse narrow cloths, pelisse cloths, shawls in great variety, stuffs, Scots camblets, blankets, &c. &c. Also the spinning of flax for canvass, linen, sacking thread, &c. and the cotton and silk trades are increasing in magnitude. In the neighbourhood are several iron foundries, glass works and potteries ; and in the vicinity are numerous coal mines, 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. According to Parson's Annals, lately published, there were, in 1830, 228 engines employed, with an aggregate power of 4,048 horses, and which, in full work, would consume 157,870 tons of coal annually.

Two very extensive cloth halls 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 1,800. The white cloth hall, similar in extent and design, was erected in the year 1775. The principal part of the cloth is brought to these halls in an unfinished state, and is dressed under the superintendence of the merchants, who keep extensive steam mills and employ great numbers of men and boys for the purpose. The business transacted, however, in these halls is now only the shadow of what it formerly was, owing to the prevalence of the factory or mill system, which has swallowed up, as it were, a large portion of the small or domestic manufacturers. The other principal public buildings besides those for divine worship are, the court house and prison, admired as a beautiful specimen of modern architecture, as well as for its interior accommodations. The first stone was laid in September, 1811, and the whole was finished in 1813. The horse barracks, completed on a very extensive scale, are situated near Buslingthorpe, about half a mile from Leeds ; the expense of erecting this establishment was defrayed 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 wound up its affairs in 1831. A new coal gas company has sprung out of its ashes, and is likely to be of considerable benefit to the town. A beautiful edifice has also been completed, called the ' Commercial Buildings, or Exchange News Rooms,' situate 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 moat hall, and the buildings which obstructed the view and impeded the passing at the upper end of the street, was taken down in 1825.

The borough of Leeds received its first charter from Charles 1st, in the year 1626, since which period two others have been granted, one by Charles 2nd, in 1661, and the other by James 2nd, 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 & Friday for the execution of their numerous duties. A session is held for the borough every three months, viz. in January, April, July and October, at which the mayor presides, assisted by a recorder, that office being now filled by Charles Milner, Esq.; deputy recorder, --- Adolphus, Esq. 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. Under the Reform Bill, Leeds returns two members to the House of Commons. The first election under that act took place in December 1832, the candidates were John Marshall, jun, Esq. Thomas Babington Macauley, Esq. and Michael Thomas Sadler, Esq. The nomination took place in the mixed cloth hall, on the 10th ; the polling on the 12th and 13th ; and the result was officially announced on the 14th, when Messrs. Marshall and Macauley were declared duly elected ; Marshall by 2012 votes, and Macauley by 1984. Mr. Sadler polled 1596, of which 1380 were plumpers -- Mr. Marshall had only 38 plumpers, and Mr. Macauley 39. The returning officer, the mayor ; the office then filled by Thomas Tennant, Esq. since deceased. The total number of electors on the revised list was 4172, of whom 3548 polled. In February 1834, another election came on in consequence of the resignations of Mr. Macauley, preparatory to going out to India as a member of the Governor General's council, under the new India bill. The candidates were, Edward Baines, sen. Esq. of this town, Sir John Beckett, Bart. & Joshua Bowers, Esq. : upon this occasion the nomination took place on Woodhouse moor, on the 13th ; the polling on the 14th and 15th : the result was the election of Mr. Baines, who polled 1951 votes, Sir John Beckett 1917, and Mr. Bowers 24 : Benjamin Sadler, Esq. as mayor, was the returning officer. The list of voters this year was increased by about 800 names. The borough and parish of Leeds are co-extensive, consisting of the townships of Leeds, Armley, Beeston, Bramley, Chapel Allerton, Potter Newton, Farnley, Headingley cum Burley, Holbeck, Hunslet and Wortley. The new Boundary Act (an appendage to the Reform Bill), appoints Leeds one of the stations for receiving votes at the election of members to represent the West Riding.

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, New street ; Trinity church, Boat 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 25 chapels, belonging to the various sects of dissenters and methodists ; all well adapted for the service of the respective denominations to whom they are appropriated. Several new chapels belonging to the different bodies of dissenters are now in progress of erection ; including two for the methodists, and one for Roman catholics. Of methodism, Leeds may be considered the head quarters, and Brunswick chapel, with its splendid organ, and affording accommodation for nearly four thousand persons, is frequently termed its cathedral. The erection of this organ gave rise to a schism, which ended in a separation, and a promotion of new connexions of methodists, who do not acknowledge fealty to the Wesleyan conference, but hold a conference of their own. The numerous and well conducted charitable institutions evince to the stranger, that although the inhabitants are generally engaged in commercial pursuits, and busied in their own immediate affairs, the wants of their poor brethren are not forgotten, but with a spirit truly praiseworthy, 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 surgical and medical assistance to all who, either by accident or lingering sickness, require the aid of superior talent to restore them to convalescence. It is supported by annual subscriptions and voluntary contributions. The dispensary, fever house, and lying in hospital, are also similarly supported, and are found most useful to the suffering poor ; so are the benevolent or strangers' friend, and the church district visiting societies. Here are also the Leeds endowed free grammar school (Rev. Joseph Holmes, head master), and many 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. The philosophical and literary society was established in 1819 ; they have a fine structure in Park row : the museum is a most valuable one, occupying three rooms of the building, and the library has lately been augmented. The mechanics' institution is also in Park row, and although not so flourishing as many of its friends could wish, is yet liberally supported. The inhabitants of Leeds possess the advantage of three respectable and talented journals, which are issued to them weekly, on Saturday, viz:- the ' Leeds Mercury,' the ' Leeds Intelligencer,' and the ' Leeds Times.' The names of the proprietors and publishers of each, together with their offices, will be found under the head ' Newspapers.' The places of public amusement 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 & June ; the assembly rooms, over the north side of the white cloth hall ; and the concert rooms, in Albion street. There 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 1832. 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 Kirstall abbey. The neighbourhood also boasts numerous gentlemen's seats and handsome mansions, belonging to wealthy individuals ; and at Temple Newsam, is the fine seat of the Marchioness of Hertford. In the same vicinity is Swillington hall, the seat of Sir John Lowther, Bart. ; a few miles on the road to Pontefract, stands Methley park, the seat of the Earl of Mexborough ; and seven miles on the road to Harrogate, the traveller passes through the domain of Harewood, the delightful seat of the Earl of Harewood, lord lieutenant of the riding.

The new central market was opened in 1827. The market days are Tuesday and Saturday ; 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. Fairs are held in the south market, for the sale of leather, on the third Wednesday in January, first Wednesday in March, third Wednesday in April, first Wednesday in June, third Wednesday in July, first Wednesday in September, third Wednesday in October, and first Wednesday in December ; also a market in the same building every Tuesday, for raw hides. These fairs and markets are well attended by the tanners and leather dealers, from the principal towns in this and the neighbouring counties. The Town and Liberty of Leeds contained, according to the returns made to government in 1821, 83,796 inhabitants, and in 1831, 123,393. In 1821, the several townships (comprised in the town) contained, collectively, 48,603, and in 1831, 61,602 inhabitants."

"ARMLEY, is a manufacturing village and chapelry, in the parish of Leeds, St. Peter. It is within the liberty of the borough of Leeds, honour of Pontefract and wapentake of Morley, in the West Riding, about two miles south-west of Leeds. It 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 proportion 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, and the river Calder runs close by its side. Benjamin Gott, Esq. of Armley House, in this vicinity, is lord of the manor, and holds a court by his steward annually. Here is a chapel under the establishment, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, and one belonging to the Wesleyan methodists; the benefice of the former is in the gift of the vicar of Leeds, and the present incumbent is the Rev. Charles Clapham. Here are two good schools, 'Bethesda school,' and 'Armley town's school;' the master to the latter is appointed by the minister of the chapel and the churchwardens for the time being. 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; and in 1831, to 5,159."

"BEESTON, is a village and chapelry, in the parish of Leeds, St. Peter, within the liberty of the borough of Leeds, two miles s.w. from that town. Extensive coal mines have been worked here from a very early date; and woollen cloth is manufactured, but not extensively. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, is a very ancient building; the living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the vicar of Leeds, and incumbency of the Rev. Joseph Wardle. This chapelry, which comprises the townships of Beeston-shaw, Cottingley-hall, New-hall, Parkside, Royds and Snickells, is included (by the new Boundary Act) in the parliamentary borough of Leeds; and contained together, by the last census, 2,128 inhabitants. A hospital is stated to have existed here, formerly, of some consequence, but there are no remains, and its site is but imperfectly known."

"BRAMLEY, is a populous chapelry, in the parish of Leeds, (St. Peter), within the liberty of the town of Leeds, in the West Riding, 4 miles w.n.w. from Leeds; situated on high ground, and, for some years, has been noted for its flourishing and extensive woollen trade. The cloths manufactured here are, for the most part, 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 country around here is fertile, and from some of the higher parts of the chapelry the views are extensive and pleasing. The places of worship are a chapel of ease, and one for a congregation of Wesleyan methodists. The living of Bramley is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the vicar of Leeds; the present incumbent is the Rev. Thomas Furbank. The chapelry of Bramley contained, according to the government returns for 1831, 7,039 inhabitants, being an increase in the population of 4,477 since the census taken in 1801."

"CHAPEL ALLERTON, Potter Newton and neighbourhoods, Chapel Allerton is a chapelry and village, in the parish of Leeds, St. Peter, within the liberty of the town of Leeds, West Riding; pleasantly situated 2.5 miles n. from Leeds; and is the residence of many respectable families. The places of worship are a handsome chapel of ease, enlarged in 1819, and one for Wesleyan methodists. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the presentation of the vicar of Leeds: the Rev. Edward Wilson is the present curate. Mr. Robert Parker founded here alms-houses for ten poor widows, and endowed them with £50. per annum. This chapelry, which is included in the parliamentary borough of Leeds, contained, at the last census, 1,934 inhabitants.

Potter Newton is a small village and township, in the same parish as Chapel Allerton, adjoining to that chapelry, and is principally inhabited by the families of those who have trade establishments in Leeds. Population of the township 863."

"HEADINGLEY, and Burley form one chapelry, in the borough of Leeds, the former two miles n.w. and the latter the like distance w. of Leeds. The woollen trade, as with Kirkstall, gives employment to the chief portion of the population. With the exception of their manufactures, and the pleasant situation of the hamlets, nothing of importance is connected with them. A chapel for methodists, and a school, have been erected at Burley, by Mr. James Dickinson, of Leeds. Many merchants and manufacturers of Leeds have tasteful residences in the chapelry ; which contained, at the last census, 3,849 inhabitants."

"KIRKSTALL, or Kirkstall Bridge, is a hamlet, in the borough of Leeds, in the wapentake of Skyrack, West Riding, three miles from Leeds ; 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. Besides these branches, there are two extensive iron foundries ; at one of which is manufactured anvils, vices, spades, agricultural instruments, &c., and at the other boilers, steam engines, hydraulic presses, &c. 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. A very handsome and spacious church was opened here in 1831 : it is in the Gothic style of architecture, with a neat lofty spire. The edifice is situated on the east of the village, commanding very fine and diversified views, embracing the venerable ruins of Kirkstall Abbey to the north east, and at its foot the rapid river Aire ; on the opposite banks of which the village of Bramley rises in amphitheatric form, studded around with beautiful plantations, the entire forming a most interesting and delightful scene."

"STANNINGLEY, a manufacturing village, in the townships of Bramley, Pudsey and Farsley, in the parishes of Calverley and Leeds, and wapentakes of Agbrigg and Morley, is three miles and a half north east of Bradford, upon the turnpike road between that town and Leeds, and about a mile from the centre of the chapelry of Pudsey. Population included with the several townships."

"WORTLEY, is a large and populous chapelry, in the borough of Leeds, 3 miles west from that town. The manufacture of woollen cloths is carried on in the township, by a great number of persons. This place is much celebrated for its fine clay, from which pipes and various moulds are made in great quantities ; fire bricks are likewise made here of excellent quality, and to some extent. The places of worship are a chapel of ease, and one each for Wesleyan methodists and independents. The living of Wortley is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of trustees : the Rev. George Rickard is the present incumbent. A free school was founded and endowed in 1677, by Sir Samuel Sunderland, for sixty children of both sexes. The chapelry contained, at the last census, 5,944 inhabitants. Farnley is also a chapelry, in the parish and borough of Leeds, about 4 miles n.w. from that town, and adjacent to Low Wortley ; situate on an elevation, commanding extensive views. Near the village is Farnley hall, the seat of J.W.Rhodes, Esq. Woollen cloths of a fine description are manufactured, in the chapelry, rather extensively. The places of worship are a chapel of ease, and one for methodists. The vicar of Leeds is patron of the living, and the Rev. W. Williams is the present curate. The chapelry contained, in 1831, 1,591 inhabitants."

[Transcribed by Steve Garton ©2000 from
Pigot's directory (Yorkshire section) 1834]