Here’s an obscure, impressive and interesting list of Leeds facts to wow your nan, friends, mum, dad, cousins and siblings with. Learn one, learn all! For such a humble place, we were inspired by the weird and wonderful stories we discovered about Leeds’ untold and, until now, unknown history.
Fancy Furniture: Into interior design? Well, Britain’s most expensive piece of furniture was made in our humble city by a chap called Thomas Chippendale. A piece of dear Thomas’ handy work sold for over £3 million in 2010 – who’d have thought it!? A tale to inspire any budding wardrobe designers out there who are looking to make a few extra bob.
Super-sizing: The region that encompasses Leeds, inspiringly names as the ‘Leeds City Region’, is home to more than 3 million people. That means Leeds and it’s surroundings have more residents than countries including Jamaica, Lithuania and Cyprus!
London vs Leeds? Whilst London’s Notting Hill Carnival may garner the most press attention out of our country’s carnival selection, Leeds is actually home to the longest-running West Indian Carnival in Europe. Last year marked the 50 year anniversary of the annual event, having started back in the day in 1967. Head to Chapeltown this summer to celebrate it’s less landmark 51st birthday.
Man or mouse: Much of the city’s population is made up of students, and students aren’t best known for their cleanliness. Which is why they might be particularly interested to discover that mouse traps they may have had to invest in over the years were, in fact, invented here in Leeds. A man called James Henry Atkinson came up with the successful classic in 1913 and mouse trap designers haven’t looked back since. Sorry, tiny furry friends of ours!
Elephant in the room: The largest animal armour in the world is housed by one of our city’s most impressive museums – The Royal Armouries. The armour was designed for elephants and was brought to Britain back in 1801 but dates back over 500 years to 1600AD. It’s one of only 4 elephant armours in the world, originating in India, but the other 3 are locked up in private collections so count yourself lucky that you’re in with a chance of getting a glimpse at this one.
Marks and Sparks: A household British name and nation favourite, our beloved high street chain Marks and Spencers originated as a penny bazaar stall in Leeds Market. Mr Michael Marks opened up shop in 1884 before moving to a permanent spot just around the corner. Think of him as you’re perusing the baked goods aisle for teacakes or going to top up your underwear draw.
Who Dunnit? Whilst the game may be full of solving mysteries, working out who dunnit, or rather who invented it, is an easy feat when it comes to Cluedo. Games company Waddingtons was based in Leeds and staff came up with the Cluedo concept in 1949. So we have them to thank for the many hours whiled away trying to figure out who Colonel Mustard in the ballroom with the candlestick.
Hungry Hippos: It would make a very surreal sight today, but it’s true that hippos once wandered around where Leeds city centre sits today. Road workers dug up huge bones whilst working on a city regeneration project in 1851 and after further inspection by archaeologists, the bones were identified as those of the ancient hippopotamus. Good thing they aren’t around 100,000 years on as the inner city speed limit of 30 miles an hour is roughly the same speed that they can run at!
Sweet Tooth: Brilliantly named scientist Brian Boffey ‘accidentally’ (sure, Brian) discovered a confectionary favourite in 1967 here in Leeds. Attempting to create jelly in powder form, Brian instead managed to form what we now call Jelly Tots. One to add to the list of great accidental inventions that includes slinkys, play-doh, microwaves and super glue
North vs South You may not believe it, but Leeds attracts more annual visitors than traditional, sunnier, brighter and less bleak holiday destinations like Brighton and Torquay! Perhaps it’s the charm of our Yorkshire accents or the beauty of good ole Up Norf, but there’s definitely a ‘je ne sais quoi’ about the city we call home that makes it a rewarding and welcoming place to see.
So there you have it, 10 bonkers facts about Leeds that will make you look twice at different parts of the city and celebrate what it has to offer both past and present.
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