History of Leeds
Although there may have been a settlement before the seventh century, by that time there is recorded evidence of a place named in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History as Loidis, and in 1066 mentioned in the Domesday Book as Leedes, and later Leeds. Leeds was a market town and in1207 the town received its first royal charter when lord of the manor Maurice Paynel put in a request to King John. In the thirteenth century the area was an important marketing and agricultural centre serving the surrounding villages. Over the next one hundred years Leeds became known as a very busy and industrious town. The borough of Leeds received the charter of town in 1626 from King Charles the first. During the English Civil War was in the hands of the Royalists but this changed in 1643 when the Parliamentarian Sir Thomas Fairfax launched his successful attack on the stronghold. Two years later the population of Leeds was significantly reduced due to the ravages of the bubonic plague.
Leeds became known quite early on for the huge amount of coal mined from that area and there is evidence to suggest that coal was mined as far back as the mid-thirteenth century. During medieval times bell pits were used to mine the coal by hand and some excavations around the city centre has exposed these early, working mines. Coal mining came to an end in Leeds when the last pit was closed in 1986.
The city of Leeds became a major player in the Industrial Revolution for their contribution to the wool trade. Leeds profile was further raised by the staged opening between 1760 and1816 of the Leeds and Liverpool canal and by the coming of the railway in 1826. Leeds was designated a city by Queen Victoria in 1893, and in addition to its textile industry.
The birth of the twentieth century also saw the birth of the University of Leeds, now among some of the best universities in the country. Later the development of Leeds Metropolitan University and Leeds Trinity and All Saints further raised the city’s academic profile. The universities continue to attract students to the area, some of whom elect to stay in the area they have completed their studies.
The textile and coal industries that had thrived in the nineteenth century began to experience a sharp decline in the years following the Second World War. By the nineteen nineties the number of people involved in both mining and manufacturing had dropped significantly, although Leeds still boasts several large engineering companies. The coming of the M1 and M62 motorways in the nineteen sixties and nineteen seventies revitalised the city. In the late nineteen nineties two decaying areas of the city were redeveloped, bringing new life to the area. Figures from the ONS tend to suggest that at present, Leeds is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. Nowadays Leeds is said to be one of the most important financial services outside of London.