A to Z of Leeds: The city street boasting 1,000 years of history

Kirkgate in the late 19th century or early 20th century.Kirkgate in the late 19th century or early 20th century.
Kirkgate in the late 19th century or early 20th century.
We all know Leeds is a great city, right?

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.


Kirkgate is one of the oldest streets in Leeds and has existed for well over a thousand years. It was at the centre of the original settlement from which the city of Leeds later developed.

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In 1838, when workmen began to demolish the old parish church in Leeds, the chanced upon several strange stones. These were later found to be segments of ancient stone crosses, later dated to the early part of the 10th century. They displayed both pagan and Christian imagery.

The name ‘Kirkgate’ is Old Norse for ‘road to the church’ and certainly it is accepted Leeds was a centre for preaching as early as the 7th century, if not before.

Kirkgate, which later coalesced with Briggate following the Charter of 1207, was for a long time dominated by merchant families and the cloth trade. It is home to the First White Cloth Hall, one of the oldest buildings in Leeds today. Leeds historian Ralph Thoresby also lived there. Cloth from Leeds was exported all over the world.

However, if it was at the centre of the city’s wealth in its early days, it stagnated somewhat during the 1840s, when it was regarded as one of the worst slum areas of the town.



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