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The best inventions to come out of Leeds
The best inventions to come out of Leeds

You may not yet know, but some very peculiar and unexpected inventions have been borne from Leeds over the years. Here we pick 7 of our favourite, although we were surprisingly spoilt for choice. A list to inspire any budding inventors in Yorkshire’s finest city!

The best inventions to come out of Leeds
Cluedo - Photo Credit: @michelle_spencer



A mystery no longer. The inventors of Cluedo actually resided in Leeds at the time of the game’s invention. A firm family favourite since its release, the developers from toy company Waddington’s gave Cluedo’s mastermind Anthony E Pratt the patent for his concept back in 1947. But due to shortages in resources following the war, poor Anthony had to wait until 1949 before the game was launched after securing financial backing. And here’s another fact thrown in for you – the game was originally called the not so appealing name of ‘Murder!’. Good thing they changed it.

The best inventions to come out of Leeds
Park Row - Photo Credit: @myviewofleeds

Safer Roads


Now this isn’t super sexy, but Leeds was the first city to install a fully automated traffic light system, just like the ones we have in place across the UK today. All the way back in 1928, Park Row was graced with being the first street to give red, yellow and green lights a go. Improvements in road safety soared and accidents were reduced so it was our dear city that lit the way (quite literally!) for the replacement of the gas light system that road traffic systems previously utilised. Locals of the time must have been quite taken aback by the colourful posts dotting their streets – they even called them ‘Robots’ as a nickname. Who knows how they’d react to the advances in technology since then…

The best inventions to come out of Leeds
William Henry Bragg - Photo Credit: @robertocarlosfeliz

DNA Discovery


Yes, we know. This one isn’t technically an invention but it’s too important to miss off the list, so we’ve bent the rules a little, just temporarily, to include a discovery. Inspiringly named father and son team William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg discovered the structure of crystals at the University of Leeds in the early twentieth century. This paved the way for future scientists and researchers to explore the makeup of many entities, including the structure of DNA. Recognised for their work in science, not for formulating unique human names, the partners were given a Nobel Prize in 1915.

The best inventions to come out of Leeds
Harry Ramsden's - Photo Credit:

Fish and Chip shops


Now there’s been a long running debate between multiple countries about where fish and chips first came into being. The Portuguese claim they gave us fried fish and the Belgians our beloved chips, but as long as they’re dressed with salt and vinegar, we’re not really too fussed. But little Leeds will be remembered for opening the first ever fish and chip chain, in the form of Harry Ramsden’s. Its branches were so popular that they expanded globally, reaching Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, America and even Australia. Sadly the original shop in Guiseley has now been bought out by The Wetherby Whaler, but think of Harry Ramsden every time you dunk the classic dish into some tartare sauce.

The best inventions to come out of Leeds
Grand Theft Auto - Photo Credit: @coregaming

Grand Theft Auto


It’s many gamers’ original favourite. Gaming company Rockstar Leeds developed the series in the not so glamorous City West office park. No wonder their imaginations ran wild. The company was founded back in 1997 and struck gold with the release of Grand Theft Auto in 2005 with the Liberty City Stories title. It went on to release 2 more GTA editions and raised the gaming bar ever since.

The best inventions to come out of Leeds
Mousetraps - Photo Credit: @vulpes_industries

Mouse traps


Now this might not be a nice invention, but its definitely a useful one, particularly for all of the unwashed and unkempt students who reside in the city. In 1899, Leeds citizen Henry Atkinson came up with a contraption that became the spring-loaded mousetrap. It became popular all around the world and despite originally being known as ‘Atkinson’s Little Nipper’, we prefer to call it the more simple ‘mouse trap’ today.

The best inventions to come out of Leeds



Last but most definitely not least, we can’t forget the one we (literally) wouldn’t be able to survive without. And that’s oxygen! Once again, a discovery has snuck its way onto the list. All the way back in 1774, an aptly named man called Joseph Priestley came across the element. It was whilst he was writing a rivetingly entitled book called Experiments and Observations on Air. This guy was obviously a bit of a scientific whizz as he was also making strides in the area of electricity and is credited with inventing soda water too. Take a big breath of air and raise a glass of vodka soda to toast Mr Priestley!


So there are our 7 favourite inventions from Leeds. Hopefully current inhabitants will follow in their forbearer’s footsteps and we will have many more ideas to celebrate in the future.


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