A to Z of Leeds: The city street and a bubonic plague outbreak

We all know Leeds is a great city, right?

Saturday, 2nd January 2021, 11:30 am
Vicar Lane when it was a much narrower, cobbled thoroughfare.
Vicar Lane when it was a much narrower, cobbled thoroughfare.

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.


One of the original streets of Leeds.

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It wasn’t always called Vicar Lane, though. It previously went by the name of King Street and was only renamed in 1717 after the building of the vicarage.

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Changing Leeds - 20 photos of Vicar Lane through the years

One of the buildings was the Vagrant Office, which was established in 1818. The original buildings on the west side of the street were pulled down in 1899 to allow for street widening.

Meanwhile, the street was further enhanced by the building of the Leeds covered market in 1904. It once continued to Lady Lane and the North Bar Stone, one of the old markers of the limits of the city. It was also remodelled in 1993.

In 1645, Vicar Lane was at the centre of an outbreak of the bubonic plague, which had made repeated appearances in Leeds through the centuries,

The outbreak of that year was traced to Vicar Lane, which at that time would have been populated by houses as well as businesses.

By all accounts, the disease spread quickly through the tightly woven streets of Leeds, with their numerous yards and alleyways.

Before very long, signs of it were detected in the ‘out townships’. Between March and December of that year, it was estimated that some 1,325 people perished.



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Laura Collins