A to Z of Leeds: How the city's yards took on a new lease of life

We all know Leeds is a great city, right?

Sunday, 3rd January 2021, 11:30 am
Pack Horse Yard in Leeds. Year unknown.
Pack Horse Yard in Leeds. Year unknown.

There are many reasons for this bold claim, from the people who've called this place home, to the history of the region, the developments underway and the talent and creativity we see on a daily basis. Here, we go through the alphabet to give you some reasons to be proud.


Yards, of which Leeds has many, not least those off Briggate and Kirkgate.

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A list from 1985 shows at least 50 off these two streets, with names such as Blayd’s Yard, Angel Hill Yard, Cudworth Court, Oliver’s Yard, Queen’s Court, Burton Arcade, Reinhardt’s Yard, Swan Street (Variety Yard), Turk’s Head, White Cross. There was also Coxon’s Yard, Holliday Court, Old Nag’s Head Yard and Golden Cock Yard.

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Changing Leeds - Go down these hidden and historic city centre alleys and yards

The yards themselves date back almost as far as the town itself; many of them were plots either rented or owned by cloth merchants and other traders to both work and live.

They were set out by Ralph Paynel, Lord of the Manor. Turk’s Head, White Swan and Pack Horse yards date back to 1207.

Over time, their use has changed and following the clearing of slum housing and the regeneration of many inner city areas, they have taken on a new lease of life but not without a deal of attention.

In 1995, the council spent over £120,000 restoring Ship Yard off Briggate and Assembly Street by the Corn Exchange.

It’s hard to believe now but most the city centre, including some of the narrow side roads, including the one next to the City Varieties, were open to traffic. Back then the cobbles were uneven and cars parked along its length.

In 1982, the remains of a roof were discovered at Rockley Hall Yard, which were thought to be that of Rockley Hall, a private residence which stood on the site 300 years earlier. The premises stood next to the Three Legs (or Fifteen Toes) pub and was at the time being converted from a dry cleaners into a Chinese restaurant.



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Laura Collins