Working In Leeds

12 Things you didn’t know about Leeds

By wizu | 12 September 2020

Leeds is a beautiful, historical city filled to the brim and overflowing with great things! But did you know there are some surprising, utterly unique and bizarre things that you may not know about Leeds?

1). Flying for over a century: did you know that the oldest flying aeroplane in Britain was in Leeds? It’s true! The Blackburn Type D was an aircraft pioneer with it’s one engine and single seat. This plane was known as a monoplane.

The aircraft was built by Robert Blackburn for Cyril Foggin in 1912, only 10 years after the first flight of the Wright Brothers. One more fact you may not know is that the plane is still flying these days! It lives at the Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire.

2). Hippos once lived in Leeds: you read that correctly! Hippos once lived in the area where Leeds now resides and there’s proof to support this wild claim!

Back in 1984, the bones of hippo from 130,000 years ago were discovered during construction of the Armely Gyratory. These ancient hippo bones are now on display at Leeds City Museum.

3). X-ray pioneers: x-rays were first discovered in Leeds by William Henry Bragg and his son William Lawrence Bragg. Using this amazing tech, the father and son team discovered the structure of crystals and more. The discovery was made at the University of Leeds.

4). Leeds man helped build iconic buildings of the US: who would have thought that man from Leeds would leave his mark on American architecture! The neoclassical architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, created some of his best work in the US: the United States Capital Building and the White House Portico. These were designed when he was a Chief Engineer in the US Navy.

5). Leeds had the first county maps of England: a Royal cartographer to Elizabeth I, Christopher Saxton, was given high tech (for back then) surveying equipment to draw each and every county in the county for the first time. His maps were made into double page spreads in the Atlas of Counties of England and Wales, which was published in 1579.

6). Grazing rooftop sheep in Leeds: who could invent that story? Back in 1836, Temple Works, now a Grade I building, was a flax mill that was famous for it’s ancient Egyptian design. It was also well known for having the largest single room in the world when it was built.

However, one of the most unusual facts about the build is that it had a problem with low humidity. As a result, it was decided that in order to maintain the grass more easily it would be necessary to put sheep on the roof. Believe it or not, to get the sheep up on the roof, the very first hydraulic lift was created! Who would have thought!

7). Oldest surviving film was made in Leeds: in 1888, Louise Le Prince created one of the first, still surviving film that was recorded in Leeds! The camera used was the Le Prince single-lens camera made in 1888.

In the surviving clip from 1888 was filmed at the Whitley family home in Oakwood Grange Road, Roundhay, which is suburb of Leeds. The date of filming is set on October 14, 1888.

8). Houdini almost died in Leeds: Houdini, the famous illusionist and escape artists was set to perform at The Tetley in 1911, where he almost died. One of his most famous escape tricks was with the milk can escape. For this trick, Houdini was handcuffed, and then sealed in the milk can that was filled with water. He usually managed to escape just fine.

At the Tetley, Houdini was going to do the same trick, but instead he used a barrel of Leeds’ famous Tetley’s bitter ale. During the stunt, when he was sealed into the barrel of bitters, Houdini couldn’t get out of the barrel, and eventually passed out.

The problem was that Houdini never drank alcohol and was overcome by the ale and fainted. Thankfully Houdini’s chief assistant, Franz Kukol, saw there was a problem and tore the barrel open and dragged Houdini out! This was Houdini’s only known defeat—ever. 

9). First ever Ryder Cup event in Europe: it’s a fact—Leeds was once host to the Ryder Cup golf competition! Back in 1929, the event was held at Moortown Gold Club. The committee in charge of the event spent months getting the gold course up to speed for the event.

The two teams involved in the contest were the British and the American cup teams. The event was watched by the largest ever crowd that had ever attended a golf tournament in the UK. Who do you think won the Ryder Cup that year? The British, of course!

10). Leeds Arena designed with perfect line of sight: did you know that every seat in the Leeds Arena has perfect line of site? It’s true, no matter what you sit in the arena, you’ll have a perfect view of the stage.

The arena is the UK’s only arena with this wonderful feature! You can see artists from every seat, so no need to shell out big bucks for tickets close to the stage. Any seat will do just fine!

11). A famous author was not fond of Leeds: a world-famous literary giant, Charles Dickens, once visited Leeds on a tour around the country. He made a stop in Leeds but didn’t have a very good impression of the city. He said the city was “an odious place.” At least his negative comment truly sounds as if it was written by a literary great!

12). Leeds was home to the last flat cap manufacturer: back in the 1920s, JW Myers was the largest manufacturer in the world of the famous, classic the flat cap. This cap was so popular it would literally fly off the store shelves!

However, when it became too expensive to produce the cap any longer, the manufacturing of these classic Yorkshire caps was sent off to China.

Now, you know some very unique, and bizarre facts about the city of Leeds! Go share these with your family and friends and see if they know about these bits of information about this lovely city!

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