Free lunchtime lectures turn spotlight on fascinating era of Leeds's past

A series of free lunchtime lectures are set to transport people back to a fascinating era in Leeds's past from the comfort of their own homes.
A postcard view of City Square and the Queens Hotel in 1907.A postcard view of City Square and the Queens Hotel in 1907.
A postcard view of City Square and the Queens Hotel in 1907.

The history of Leeds comes under the spotlight again when well-known local historian and city heritage expert Dr Kevin Grady presents his 14th annual series of free lunchtime lectures every Wednesday in February at 1pm for the first time via Zoom.

This year’s illustrated lectures cover the white heat of the industrial revolution in Leeds, the city’s retail heritage through a look at markets and market halls, the grandest street in Victorian Leeds and a look at the Edwardian period where design, transport and housing came to the fore.

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Dr Kevin Grady said: “Pandemic or no pandemic, I am delighted that the tradition of my Leeds Civic Trust February lunchtime lectures on the history of Leeds can continue!

Boar Lane on Market Day in 1872.Boar Lane on Market Day in 1872.
Boar Lane on Market Day in 1872.

"This year’s lectures look at the development of the city’s first factories during the Industrial Revolution; the magnificent but long-since demolished Victorian market halls and exchange buildings; the development of Boar Lane into the great Victorian showpiece of Leeds; and the character of the city in the booming and flamboyant Edwardian period. I am looking forward to telling these fascinating stories.”

You can register for your free place via the Leeds Civic Trust events page: full lecture programme is as follows:

Wednesday, February 3 - ‘Invention, Acumen and Espionage’: The Industrial Revolution in Leeds, 1780-1845

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In the heady days of the Industrial Revolution in Leeds, people stopped at nothing to steal the secrets of the industrial processes which were generating great wealth. This lecture focuses on the creation of Leeds’s three most famous early factories: Benjamin Gott’s Park Mills; Matthew Murray’s Round Foundry and John Marshall’s Temple Mill. Click here to register

Wednesday, February 10 - ‘Grand Emporium’ - The Market Halls and Exchanges of Victorian Leeds

In the nineteenth-century Leeds became a great Victorian city and a diversified centre of commerce and industry requiring specialist buildings for the sale of produce, commodities and trading in stocks and shares. These included retail and wholesale market halls, bazaars, cloth halls, corn exchanges, a Stock Market, two merchant exchanges, a leather market, and a wholesale meat market. The lecture describes these fine Victorian buildings which almost all sadly have been long since demolished. Click here to registerWednesday, February 17 - ‘The Grandest Street in Victorian Leeds’: The History of Boar Lane

Because of it spectacularly rapid growth in the first half of the 19th century, the streetscape of central Leeds developed in a very haphazard fashion. Historically Boar Lane was perhaps the town’s most exclusive street, but it too lacked a coherent façade. This lecture traces the evolution of Boar Lane from the Middle Ages and its transformation in the 1860s into the town’s grandest street. Click here to registerWednesday February 24 - ‘The Age of Flamboyance’: Edwardian Leeds

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The Edwardian period in Leeds stands out as a brief Indian Summer at the close of a century of British political and economic pre-eminence in the world before the First World War. This lecture describes the character of the booming city between 1901 and 1910 – its industry, its transport, the housing of the working and middle classes, education, leisure and entertainment, the notable events, and its new flamboyant architecture. Click here to register******************************

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Laura Collins