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Lighting Up Love in Leeds
Lighting Up Love in Leeds

Did you know that Leeds used to be an international hub for the production of neon? Neither did we.

Back in the 1940s, Leeds was apparently the only place in the north making neon signs and lettering.  ‘Oldham Signs’ on York Road was the first company outside of London to manufacture neon.

As a result, many shopfronts had neon signs advertising their wares, which contributed to the city being awash with light at the time, including an apparent spectacle of light along the Headrow.

Lighting Up Love in Leeds

According to the Guardian, “Neon – named after the Greek word neos, meaning “new gas” – was first conceived nearly 350 years ago and quickly became a popular way to advertise after the first commercial neon sign was installed in a Parisian barbershop in 1912. People would stop to stare at the new-fangled ‘liquid fire’.”

Sadly, neon started to disappear in Leeds after Oldham Signs, which was one of the oldest neon-sign companies in the UK at the time, closed in 2003. Given neon was expensive, complicated and dangerous to make, this was hardly a surprise.

Lighting Up Love in Leeds

Today, however, newer, safer techniques and a trend for vintage aesthetics have enabled neon to make a huge resurgence.

It has become a favourite artwork choice in homes, shops, and bars around the UK and lasts for up to 20 years, according to Urban Signs in Leeds, one of several local companies taking up the neon mantle.


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