The University of Leeds is a Russell Group university in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, established in 1831. Originally named the Yorkshire College of Science and later simply the Yorkshire College, it incorporated the Leeds School of Medicine and became part of the federal Victoria University alongside Owens College (which became the University of Manchester) and University College Liverpool (which became the University of Liverpool). In 1904, a royal charter, created in 1903, was granted to the University of Leeds by King Edward VII.
The university is a founding member of the prestigious Russell Group - the leading research-intensive universities in the UK, the N8 Group for research collaboration, the Worldwide Universities Network, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, the White Rose University Consortium, the Santander Network and CDIO and is also affiliated to the Universities UK. The Leeds University Business School hold the 'Triple Crown' accreditations from AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS, placing them in the top 1% of business schools globally.
For 2017-18, Leeds is ranked nationally between 10th (Times and Sunday Times) and 14th (The Guardian; The Complete University Guide). Internationally, the university is ranked as the 32nd best in Europe and globally ranked 93rd in the 2016-17 QS World University Rankings. Leeds was ranked top three in the UK and top 20 in the world for graduate employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2016), also ranked as the 5th most targeted British university by the UK's top graduate employers in 2016-17. Leeds was ranked 10th in the UK for research power in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the best result in the Yorkshire and the Humber region. The university was named the 2017 Sunday Times University of the Year, having been runner-up in 2016.
The university has 31,790 students, the seventh largest university in the UK (out of 166). From 2006 to present, the university has consistently been ranked within the top 5 (alongside Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Nottingham University and Edinburgh University) in the United Kingdom for the number of applications received. Leeds had a consolidated income of £667.2 million in 2016/17, of which £131.1 million was from research grants and contracts. The university has financial endowments of £72.7 million (2016–17), ranking outside the top ten British universities by financial endowment.
Notable alumni include former Secretary of StateJack Straw, former co-chairman of the Conservative Party Sayeeda Warsi, Piers Sellers (NASAastronaut) and six Nobel laureates.
Prior to formation
The university's history is linked to the development of Leeds as an international centre for the textile industry and clothing manufacture in the United Kingdom during the Victorian era. The university's roots can be traced back to the formation of schools of medicine in English cities to serve the general public.
Prior to 1900, only five universities had been established in England and one in Wales. These consisted of the University of Oxford (founded between 1096–1201), University of Cambridge (founded c. 1201), University of London (founded in 1836), Durham University (founded in 1832), and the federal Victoria University (founded in 1880); the University of Wales was founded in 1893.
The Victoria University was established in Manchester in 1880 as a federal university in the North of England, instead of the government elevating Owens College to a university and grant it a royal charter. Owens College was the sole college of Victoria University from 1880 to 1884; in 1887 Yorkshire College was the third to join the university.
Origins of the Leeds School of Medicine and the Yorkshire College
In 1831, the Leeds School of Medicine was established with the aim of serving the needs of the five medical institutions which had been established in the city. In 1874, the Yorkshire College of Science was created to provide education for the children of middle-class industrialists and merchants. Financial support from local industry was crucial in setting up the College and aiding the students. The university continues to recognise these elements of its history; for example, there is still remains a Clothworkers' Court on campus.
The College of Science, modelled on Owens College, Manchester, was established in 1851 as non-sectarian and was open to Protestant Dissenters, Catholics and Jews (though not then to women) since the Oxford and Cambridge, restricted attendance to members only of the Church of England. University College London was non-sectarian. The religious qualification ceased in the 1850s but the classics-based education continued at Oxford and Cambridge. The Northern colleges continued to promote themselves as offering a general education that was progressive and pragmatic in nature as were the technical colleges of Germany and the ancient universities upon which they were modelled.
The Yorkshire College of Science began by teaching experimental physics, mathematics, geology, mining, chemistry and biology, and soon became well known as an international centre for the study of engineering and textile technology (due to the manufacturing and textile trades being strong in the West Riding). When classics, modern literature and history went on offer a few years later, the Yorkshire College of Science became simply the Yorkshire College. In 1884, the Yorkshire College absorbed the Leeds School of Medicine and subsequently joined the federal Victoria University (established at Manchester in 1880) on 3 November 1887. Students in this period were awarded external degrees by the University of London.
Victoria University and Royal Charter
Leeds was given its first university in 1887 when the Yorkshire College joined the federal Victoria University on 3 November. The Victoria University had been established by royal charter in 1880; Owens College being at first the only member college. Leeds now found itself in an educational union with close social cousins from Manchester and Liverpool.
Unlike Owens College, the Leeds campus of the Victoria University had never barred women from its courses. However, it was not until special facilities were provided at the Day Training College in 1896 that women began enrolling in significant numbers. The first female student to begin a course at the university was Lilias Annie Clark, who studied Modern Literature and Education.
The Victoria (Leeds) University was a short-lived concept, as the multiple university locations in Manchester and Liverpool were keen to establish themselves as separate, independent universities. This was partially due to the benefits a university had for the cities of Liverpool and Manchester whilst the institutions were also unhappy with the practical difficulties posed by maintaining a federal arrangement across broad distances. The interests of the universities and respective cities in creating independent institutions was further spurred by the granting of a charter to the University of Birmingham in 1900 after lobbying from Joseph Chamberlain.
Following a Royal Charter and Act of Parliament in 1903, the then newly formed University of Liverpool began the fragmentation of the Victoria University by being the first member to gain independence. The University of Leeds soon followed suit and had been granted a royal charter as an independent body by King Edward VII by 1904.
2000 to present
The Victoria University continued after the break-up of the group, with an amended constitution and renamed as the Victoria University of Manchester (though "Victoria" was usually omitted from its name except in formal usage) until September 2004. On 1 October 2004 a merger with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology was enacted to form The University of Manchester.
In December 2004, financial pressures forced the university's governing body (the Council) to decide to close the Bretton campus. Activities at Bretton were moved to the main university campus in the summer of 2007 (allowing all Bretton-based students to complete their studies there). There was substantial opposition to the closure by the Bretton students. The university's other satellite site, Manygates in Wakefield, also closed, but Lifelong Learning and Healthcare programmes are continuing on a new site next to Wakefield College.
In May 2006, the university began re-branding itself to consolidate its visual identity to promote one consistent image. A new logo was produced, based on that used during the centenary celebrations in 2004, to replace the combined use of the modified university arms and the Parkinson Building, which has been in use since 2004. The university arms will still be used in its original form for ceremonial purposes only. Four university colours were also specified as being green, red, black and beige.
Leeds provides the local community with over 2,000 university student volunteers. With 7,726 staff currently employed, the university is the third largest employer in Leeds and contributes around £1.23bn a year to the local economy - students add a further £211m through rents and living costs.
The university's educational partnerships have included providing formal accreditation of degree awards to Leeds College of Art and Leeds Trinity University College, although the latter now has the power to award its own degrees. The College of the Resurrection, an Anglican theological college in Mirfield with monastic roots, has, since its inception in 1904, been affiliated to the university, and ties remain close. The university is also a founding member of the Northern Consortium.
In August 2010, the university was one of the most targeted institutions by students entering the UCASclearing process for 2010 admission, which matches undersubscribed courses to students who did not meet their firm or insurance choices. The university was one of nine Russell Group universities offering extremely limited places to "exceptional" students after the universities in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford declared they would not enter the process due to courses being full to capacity.
On 12 October 2010, The Refectory of the Leeds University Union hosted a live edition of the Channel 4 News, with students, academics and economists expressing their reaction to the Browne Review, an independent review of Higher Education funding and student finance conducted by John Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley. University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor and Russell Group chairman Michael Arthur participated, giving an academic perspective alongside current vice-chancellor of Kingston University and former Pro Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Education at the University of Leeds, Sir Peter Scott. Midway through the broadcast a small group of protesters against the potential rise of student debt entered the building before being restrained and evacuated.
In 2016, The University of Leeds became University of the Year 2017 in The Times and The Sunday Times' Good University Guide. The university has risen to 13th place overall, which reflects impressive results in student experience, high entry standards, services and facilities, and graduate prospects.
The university has 1,230 acres (498 ha) of land in total, with the main campus taking up 98 acres (40 ha). The main campus is located 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Leeds city centre and compromises of a mixture of Gothic revival, art deco, brutalist and postmodern buildings, making it one of the most diverse university campuses in the country in terms of building styles and history. It is within walking distance of both the city centre and Headingley, a popular residential area for students wishing to live off campus. The main entrance to the campus for visitors by car is on Woodhouse Lane (A660), near the Parkinson Building. The former Woodhouse Cemetery is within the campus, now a landscaped area known as St George's Fields.
The Parkinson Building is a grade II listed art deco building and campanile named after the late Frank Parkinson, a major benefactor of the university who oversaw many new build projects from 1936 onwards. These commitments culminating in the official opening of The Parkinson Building (to which Parkinson donated £200,000) on 9 November 1951. The tower of the building is a well-known landmark in the city of Leeds and is used in the university logo and as a university symbol. The campanile is the highest point of the building and stands at 57 metres (187 ft) tall, making it the 17th tallest building in the city of Leeds.
Maurice Keyworth Building
The Leeds University Business School is housed in the renovated 19th-century buildings (known as the Maurice Keyworth Building), which used to belong to Leeds Grammar School on the Western side of the University of Leeds campus. The university have also constructed further modern buildings on the business school area of campus known as the Innovation Hub; costing £9.3 million. The building is a three-storey building of 4350 m2 (gross capacity), with the third floor accommodating the Innovation Hub.
The university's Great Hall building is one of the most prominent buildings on campus alongside the Parkinson Building and the numerous brutalist buildings which are Grade II listed. The Great Hall was built on a site of Beech Grove Hall Estate which was purchased in 1879 by the then Yorkshire College when joining the Victoria University. This was later demolished in 1884, to become the site of the Clothworkers buildings of the Baines Memorial Wing and the Great Hall. The buildings were designed by the renowned Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse R.A in red pressed brick and had dressings of Bolton Wood stone in a Gothic Collegiate style. The cost of the build was £22,000 and was raised partially by public appeal and served as the university library until the opening of the Brotherton Library. The Great Hall is now primarily used for examinations, meetings and graduation ceremonies.
In June 2010, post-war buildings at the University of Leeds were recommended by English Heritage to become Grade II listed buildings. The modernist and brutalist buildings being recognised include the newly Grade II* listed Roger Stevens Building, whilst the EC Stoner Building, Computer Science Building, Mathematics/Earth Sciences Building, Senior Common Room, Garstang Building, Irene Manton Building, Communications and Edward Boyle Library (formerly the South Library) and Henry Price Building have been recognised as Grade II listed buildings. These additions join the already listed 1877 Great Hall and Baines Wing, the School of Mineral Engineering, the Brotherton Library and the Parkinson Building which are Grade II listed.
In addition to the main campus, there is also a satellite location at Wakefield. Until the 2006–07 academic year, some courses were taught at the Bretton Hall campus in West Bretton. The site closed in summer 2007 after which the courses taught there were relocated to the main campus in Leeds.
Leeds railway station is approximately 1 mile south of the main campus. There are numerous bus routes which serve it. The proposed Leeds Supertram would have run past the campus. The currently proposed Leeds Trolleybus (northern line) will run past the campus, linking it with the city centre, Headingley and Lawnswood. The Leeds Inner Ring Road also lies close to the campus.
The University of Leeds Conference Auditorium, located next to the Sports Hall, was once the original West Yorkshire Playhouse. It was refurbished in 2003 to become two lecture theatres; one for 320 and one for 550, making it the largest capacity facility on the university campus.
The university's Muslim Prayer Room is located in the Conference Auditorium building and able to accommodate up to 300 people at any one time. The prayer room has undergone refurbishment after half a million pounds was allocated towards its development.
The university has engaged in a wave of modern expansion since 2008, and has invested more than £300 million in transforming its campus over the coming years, resulting in new state-of-the-art educational, research, residential and leisure facilities with a further £80 million being spent to improve current assets. The programme of this expansion constitutes one of the largest capital investment projects in British higher education.
- Earth and Environment improvements included a phased refurbishment and construction of this £23 million development which is already completed. These renovations included refurbished laboratory space in the west wing which opened for staff and students in April 2009, and the completion of the remaining elements of the scheme, both new build and refurbished, followed in November 2009.
- Charles Morris Hall student accommodation renovations started with the demolition of the previous Mary Ogilvie House, the existing 108 bed student accommodation block, and construction of a new 500-bed, £27.1 million building began in March 2009, the new halls were completed in the summer of 2010, with the first students moving in for the new academic year in September 2010.
- The Childcare Centre building work has also been completed and led to the creation of a new 140 place staff/student childcare centre and a new landscaped green square on adjoining plot. Work on the £3.6 million project lasted approximately 12 months with the official opening in April 2010.
- Swimming pool and fitness centre improvements (known as The Edge) started in 2009 and consisted of the construction of the new £12.2 million swimming pool/gym complex on the south-western edge of campus. The facility was due for completion by the end of February 2010 however was delayed until being officially opened in May 2010.
- The Law Building is a £12 million project which was completed in early 2011. Work on the project started September 2009 and completion was initially planned for late 2010. The new building is located on the western side of the university campus alongside the Leeds University Business School and is adjacent to the new Michael Marks Building which features the Marks & Spencer archives, including over 60,000 artefacts from London and Leeds (where the company was founded). This new collection of buildings forms the 'Professional' campus of the university, housing business, economics and law functions.
- The Edward Boyle Library £28 million redevelopment of the library was approved by the university and a consultant design team appointed, with a view to work commencing late 2010. However, budget cuts resulted in the project being put on hold  until 2015. The refurbishment began in summer 2015 and was completed in late 2016.
- The Energy Building, is a £12.5 million development extending the engineering complex. Build work began in late summer 2010, and was completed in March 2012.
During the 2015/16 academic year, 31,790 students were enrolled. There were around 560 different first-degree programmes and approximately 300 postgraduate degree programmes in 2009-10.:6 Whilst maintaining its strengths in the traditional subjects (for example more students studying languages and physical sciences than anywhere else in the UK), Leeds has also developed expertise in more distinctive and rare specialist areas such as Colour Chemistry, Fire Science, Nanotechnology and Aviation Technology with Pilot studies.
The university library is spread over five locations, and holds, in total, 2.78 million books, 26,000 print and electronic journals, 850 databases and 6,000 electronic books: making it one of the largest research libraries in the UK. The main arts, social sciences and law library is the Brotherton Library, located in the Parkinson Building. The main science, engineering and student library is the Edward Boyle Library, located in the centre of the campus. Medicine, dentistry and healthcare students are served by the Health Sciences Library, located in the Worsley Building, and there is an extension of this library at St James's University Hospital. The Laidlaw Library on the main campus, serving the needs of first and second year undergraduates, opened in May 2015. It is named after Lord Laidlaw who gave £9,000,000 towards its construction.
The university library also houses numerous special collections, ranging from the 15th century through to the 20th century. Such collections include locks of hair from the influential Classical era composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Further collections held include William Shakespeare's First Folio (Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories. & Tragedies) published in 1623 and valued at around £15 million. The university also holds Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published 5 July 1687 and Oscar Wilde's manuscript of The Duchess of Padua from 1883.
Many of the academic departments have specialist research facilities, for use by staff and students to support research from internationally significant collections in university libraries to state-of-the-art laboratories. These include those hosted at the Institute for Transport Studies, such as the University of Leeds Driving Simulator which is one of the most advanced worldwide in a research environment, allowing transport researchers to watch driver behaviour in accurately controlled laboratory conditions without the risks associated with a live, physical environment.
With extensive links to the St James's University Hospital through the Leeds School of Medicine, the university operates a range of high-tech research laboratories for biomedical and physical sciences, food and engineering – including clean rooms for bionanotechnology and plant science greenhouses. The university is connected to Leeds General Infirmary and the institute of molecular medicine based at St James's University Hospital which aids integration of research and practice in the medical field.
The university also operate research facilities in the aviation field, with the Airbus A320flight simulator. The simulator was devised with an aim to promote the safety and efficiency of flight operations; where students use the simulator to develop their reactions to critical situations such as engine failure, display malfunctioning and freak weather.
In addition to these facilities, many university departments conduct research in their respective fields. There are also various research centres, including Leeds University Centre for African Studies.
Main article: Leeds School of Medicine
The Leeds School of Medicine is one of the largest medical schools in Europe, with over 250 medical students being trained in each of the clinical years and over 1,000 teaching, research, technical and administrative staff. The school has centres of excellence split down into Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Therapeutics (LIGHT), Leeds Institute of Health Sciences (LIHS), Leeds Institute of Medical Education (LIME) and The Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine (LIMM). In 2010–11 university guides, the Leeds School of Medicine was ranked as the 11th best medical school in the country by The Guardian and 14th by The Complete University Guide in association with The Independent.
The medical school has close links with the NHS and works closely with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, comprising 6 hospitals and numerous primary care training practices in Yorkshire and the Humber.
The Leeds General Infirmary and St James's University Hospital, Leeds are the main teaching hospitals in the West Yorkshire region with St James's University Hospital being one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe. The main university campus is adjacent to the Leeds General Infirmary and is directly connected via the Worsley Building of the Leeds Medical School.
Leeds General Infirmary is a centre in the UK for neurosurgery, and one of only 10 centres in the UK for Paediatric cardiology. The hospital features a rooftop landing pad for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service.
Rankings and reputation
|Teaching Excellence Framework||Gold|
Leeds is a member of the Russell Group, a group of British research-orientated universities. It was ranked joint 19th (along with the University of St Andrews) amongst multi-faculty institutions in the UK for the quality (GPA) of its research and 10th for its Research Power in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.
Between 2014-15, Leeds was ranked as the 10th most targeted British university by graduate employers, a two place decrease from 8th position in the previous 2014 rankings.
The 2016–2017 the Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked Leeds as 133rd in the world. The university ranks 117th in the world in the CWTS Leiden Ranking. Leeds is ranked 116th in the world (and 14th in the UK) in the 2016 Round University Ranking. Leeds has also been named University of the Year 2017 by The Times and The Sunday Times’ Good University Guide.
The university won the biennially awarded Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2009 for services to engineering and technology. The honour being awarded to the university's Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) which for over forty years has been a world leader in transport teaching and research.
|Offer Rate (%)||73.5||72.9||75.4||72.5||74.0|
|Average Entry Tariff||n/a||n/a||427||430||430|
For 2016 entry, Leeds received over 50,000 applications for undergraduate courses, making it the 4th most popular university by volume of applications. Leeds had the 18th highest average entry qualification for undergraduates of any UK university in 2015, with new students averaging 427 UCAS points, equivalent to just below ABBab in A-level grades. The university gives offers of admission to 75.4% of its applicants, the 14th lowest amongst the Russell Group.
19.6% of Leeds’ undergraduates are privately educated, the eighteenth highest proportion amongst mainstream British universities. In the 2016-17 academic year, the university had a domicile breakdown of 77:4:18 of UK:EU:non-EU students respectively with a female to male ratio of 61:39. Figures for graduates in the 2016-17 year showed that 30% of undergraduates gained First Class honours degree, 57% gained a 2:1, 12% gained a 2:2 and 1% gained a 3rd.
Nobel Prize winners
A number of Nobel Laureates have worked or studied at the University.
- Sir William Henry Bragg, OM, KBE, PRS (awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915), for his services (with his son William Lawrence Bragg) in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays.
- George Porter, OM, FRS (awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1967) – University of Leeds graduate - for studies of extremely fast chemical reactions (flash photolysis).
- Wole Soyinka (awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986) – University of Leeds graduate - the Nigerian writer was awarded for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.
- Archer John Porter Martin (awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1952), was an English chemist who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of partition chromatography with Richard Synge.
- Richard Laurence Millington Synge (awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1952), was a British biochemist, and shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of partition chromatography with Archer Martin. It was during his time in Leeds that he worked with Archer Martin, developing partition chromatography, a technique used in the separation mixtures of similar chemicals, that revolutionized analytical chemistry.
- Piers Forster – University of Leeds staff member – contributed to the reports of the IPCC, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Organisation and governance
The various schools, institutes and centres of the university are arranged into eight faculties, each with a dean, pro-deans and central functions:
- Arts, Humanities and Cultures (English; History; Philosophy, Religion and History of Science; Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies; Leeds Humanities Research Institute; Institute for Medieval Studies; Languages, Cultures and Societies; Institute of Communications Studies; Design; Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies; Music; Performance and Cultural Industries)
- Biological Sciences (Institute of Membrane and Systems Biology; Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology; Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology; Undergraduate School of Biological Sciences; Graduate School of Biological Sciences)
- Business (Accounting and Finance; Economics; International Business; Management; Marketing; Work and Employment Relations)
- Education, Social Sciences and Law (Education; Law; Politics and International Studies; Sociology and Social Policy; Graduate School)
- Engineering (Chemical and Process Engineering; Civil Engineering; Computing; Electronic and Electrical Engineering; Mechanical Engineering)
- Environment (Earth and Environment; Geography; Institute for Transport Studies)
- Mathematics and Physical Sciences (Chemistry; Food Science and Nutrition; Mathematics; Physics and Astronomy)
- Medicine and Health (Leeds Dental Institute; Healthcare; Medicine; Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Therapeutics; Leeds Institute of Health Sciences; Leeds Institute of Medical Education; Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine; Institute of Psychological Sciences)
The Court serves as a mechanism for the university's accountability to the wider community and to stakeholders, making sure that the university is well managed, properly governed and responsive to public and local interests and concerns. It is made up of mainly lay members.
The Council is the governing body of the university, consisting of mainly lay members along with representatives of staff and students. It is responsible for the proper management and financial solvency of the university, with major policy decisions and corporate strategy being subject to its approval.
The Senate is the principal academic authority of the university. It oversees academic management and sets strategy and priorities, including the curriculum and maintenance of standards.
The university holds a number of formal links with institutions from around the world to share teaching and research and facilitate staff and student exchanges. Numerous European universities participate in the Erasmus Programme which permits learning across the many institutions in this region. Students at Leeds may choose from twinned European universities, with each faculty having particular university affiliations.
The Chancellor acts as a ceremonial figurehead and sits on the University Court. Leeds has had seven chancellors since gaining its royal charter in 1904.
The Pro-Chancellor deputises for the Chancellor. The first, named in the 1904 charter, was businessman and chairman of the Council of the Yorkshire College,Arthur Greenhow Lupton, of a prosperous and prominent family long connected with Leeds. His mother, Frances Lupton, was a pioneering educationalist and more than one of his relatives were Lord Mayor of Leeds. In 1924, Arthur was a Member for Life of the university and had made substantial donations - £10,000 - to the university, as had his parents and brothers: Charles, Hugh and F.M. Lupton, with the family of Leeds University graduate, solicitor R. Noel Middleton - F.M. Lupton's son-in-law - also donating generously. Arthur Lupton's uncles, nieces, nephews and first cousins, including Mrs E. (Baroness von) Schunck, née Lupton, had also been generous donators and in 1924, her son-in-law, The Right Hon. Lord Airedale, was a Member of the Court of Leeds University, having been nominated by the Crown.
The Vice-Chancellor of the university acts as the chief executive. The current Vice-Chancellor is Sir Alan Langlands, who was previously the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. A number of former Vice-Chancellors have had university buildings or halls of residences on the campus named after them. Examples of such dedications include The Edward Boyle Library, Bodington Hall (accommodation named in honour of the first Vice-Chancellor) and The Roger Stevens Building.
For other uses, see Yorkshire (disambiguation).
"County of York" redirects here. For other uses, see County of York (disambiguation).
Unofficial Flag of Yorkshire
Yorkshire within England, showing historic extent
|• 1831||3,669,510 acres (14,850 km2)|
|• 1901||3,883,979 acres (15,718 km2)|
|• 1991||2,941,247 acres (11,903 km2)|
|• 1831||0.37/acre (91/km2)|
|• 1901||0.9/acre (220/km2)|
|• 1991||1.35/acre (330/km2)|
|• Origin||Kingdom of Jórvík|
|• Created||In antiquity|
|• Succeeded by||Various|
|• Units||1 North • 2 West • 3 East|
Yorkshire (; abbreviated Yorks), formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.
Within the borders of the historic county of Yorkshire are areas which are widely considered to be among the greenest in England, due to the vast stretches of unspoilt countryside in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors and to the open aspect of some of the major cities. Yorkshire has sometimes been nicknamed "God's Own County" or "God's Own Country".
The emblem of Yorkshire is the White Rose of the English royal House of York, and the most commonly used flag representative of Yorkshire is the White Rose on a blue background, which after nearly fifty years of use, was recognised by the Flag Institute on 29 July 2008.Yorkshire Day, held annually on 1 August, is a celebration of the general culture of Yorkshire, ranging from its history to its own dialect.
Yorkshire is now divided between different official regions. Most of the county falls within Yorkshire and the Humber. The extreme northern part of the county, such as Great Ayton, Runswick Bay, Middlesbrough and Dalton-on-Tees, falls within North East England. Following boundary changes in 1974, small areas in the west of the historic county now form part of North West England.
Yorkshire or the County of York was so named as it is the shire (administrative area or county) of the city of Yorklocally ( listen) or York's Shire. "York" comes from the Viking name for the city, Jórvík. "Shire" is from Old English, scir meaning care or official charge. The "shire" suffix is locally pronounced /-ʃə/ "shuh", or occasionally /-ʃiə/, a homophone of "sheer".
Main article: History of Yorkshire
Early inhabitants of Yorkshire were Celts, who formed two separate tribes, the Brigantes and the Parisi. The Brigantes controlled territory which later became all of the North Riding of Yorkshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. The tribe controlled most of Northern England and more territory than any other Celtic tribe in England. That they had the Yorkshire area as their heartland is evident in that Isurium Brigantum (now known as Aldborough) was the capital town of their civitas under Roman rule. Six of the nine Brigantian poleis described by Claudius Ptolemaeus in the Geographia fall within the historic county. The Parisi, who controlled the area that would become the East Riding of Yorkshire, might have been related to the Parisii of Lutetia Parisiorum, Gaul (known today as Paris, France). Their capital was at Petuaria, close to the Humber Estuary. Although the Roman conquest of Britain began in 43 AD, the Brigantes remained in control of their kingdom as a client state of Rome for an extended period, reigned over by the Brigantian monarchs Cartimandua and her husband Venutius. Initially, this situation suited both the Romans and the Brigantes, who were known as the most militant tribe in Britain.
Queen Cartimandua left her husband Venutius for his armour bearer, Vellocatus, setting off a chain of events which changed control of the Yorkshire area. Cartimandua, due to her good relationship with the Romans, was able to keep control of the kingdom; however her former husband staged rebellions against her and her Roman allies. At the second attempt, Venutius seized the kingdom, but the Romans, under general Petillius Cerialis, conquered the Brigantes in 71 AD.
The fortified city of Eboracum (now known as York) was named as capital of Britannia Inferior and joint-capital of all Roman Britain. The emperor Septimius Severus ruled the Roman Empire from Eboracum for the two years before his death.
Another emperor, Constantius Chlorus, died in Yorkshire during a visit in 306 AD. This saw his son Constantine the Great proclaimed emperor in the city, who would become renowned due to his contributions to Christianity. In the early 5th century, the Roman rule ceased with the withdrawal of the last active Roman troops. By this stage, the Western Empire was in intermittent decline.
Second Celtic period and Angles
After the Romans left, small Celtic kingdoms arose in Yorkshire, including the Kingdom of Ebrauc around York and the Kingdom of Elmet in West Yorkshire. Elmet remained independent from the Germanic Northumbrian Angles until some time in the early 7th century, when King Edwin of Northumbria expelled its last king, Certic, and annexed the region. At its greatest extent, Northumbria stretched from the Irish Sea to the North Sea and from Edinburgh down to Hallamshire in South Yorkshire.
Kingdom of Jórvík
Main article: Kingdom of Jórvík
An army of DanishVikings, the Great Heathen Army as its enemies often referred to it, invaded Northumbrian territory in 866 AD. The Danes conquered and assumed what is now York and renamed it Jórvík, making it the capital city of a new Danish kingdom under the same name. The area which this kingdom covered included most of Southern Northumbria, roughly equivalent to the borders of Yorkshire extending further West.
The Danes went on to conquer an even larger area of England that afterwards became known as the Danelaw; but whereas most of the Danelaw was still English land, albeit in submission to Viking overlords, it was in the Kingdom of Jórvík that the only truly Viking territory on mainland Britain was ever established. The Kingdom prospered, taking advantage of the vast trading network of the Viking nations, and established commercial ties with the British Isles, North-West Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Founded by the Dane Halfdan Ragnarsson in 875, ruled for the great part by Danish kings, and populated by the families and subsequent descendants of Danish Vikings, the leadership of the kingdom nonetheless passed into Norwegian hands during its twilight years.Eric Bloodaxe, an ex-king of Norway who was the last independent Viking king of Jórvík, is a particularly noted figure in history, and his bloodthirsty approach towards leadership may have been at least partly responsible for convincing the Danish inhabitants of the region to accept English sovereignty so readily in the years that followed.
After around 100 years of its volatile existence, the Kingdom of Jorvik finally came to an end. The Kingdom of Wessex was now in its ascendant and established its dominance over the North in general, placing Yorkshire again within Northumbria, which retained a certain amount of autonomy as an almost-independent earldom rather than a separate kingdom. The Wessex Kings of England were reputed to have respected the Norse customs in Yorkshire and left law-making in the hands of the local aristocracy.
In the weeks immediately leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD, Harold II of England was distracted by events in Yorkshire. His brother Tostig and Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, attempted a takeover in the north, having won the Battle of Fulford. The King of England marched North where the two armies met at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Tostig and Hardrada were both killed and their army was defeated decisively. However, Harold Godwinson was forced immediately to march his army back down to the South where William the Conqueror was landing. The King was defeated at Hastings, which led to the Norman conquest of England.
The people of the North rebelled against the Normans in September 1069 AD, enlisting Sweyn II of Denmark. They tried to take back York, but the Normans burnt it before they could. What followed was the Harrying of the North ordered by William. From York to Durham, crops, domestic animals, and farming tools were scorched. Many villages between the towns were burnt and local northerners were indiscriminately murdered. During the winter that followed, families starved to death and thousands of peasants died of cold and hunger. Orderic Vitalis put the estimation at "more than 100,000" people from the North dying from hunger.
In the centuries following, many abbeys and priories were built in Yorkshire. Norman landowners were keen to increase their revenues and established new towns such as Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Scarborough, Sheffield, among others. Of towns founded before the conquest, only Bridlington, Pocklington, and York continued at a prominent level. The population of Yorkshire boomed until hit by the Great Famine in the years between 1315 and 1322.
In the early 12th century, people of Yorkshire had to contend with the Battle of the Standard at Northallerton with the Scots. Representing the Kingdom of England led by Archbishop Thurstan of York, soldiers from Yorkshire defeated the more numerous Scots.
The Black Death reached Yorkshire by 1349, killing around a third of the population.
Wars of the Roses
Further information: House of York and Wars of the Roses
When King Richard II was overthrown in 1399, antagonism between the House of York and the House of Lancaster, both branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, began to emerge. Eventually the two houses fought for the throne of England in a series of civil wars, commonly known as the Wars of the Roses. Some of the battles took place in Yorkshire, such as those at Wakefield and Towton, the latter of which is known as the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil.Richard III was the last Yorkist king.
Henry Tudor, sympathiser to the House of Lancaster, defeated and killed Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He then became King Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Yorkist Edward IV, ending the wars. The two roses of white and red, emblems of the Houses of York and Lancaster respectively, were combined to form the Tudor Rose of England.[a] This rivalry between the royal houses of York and Lancaster has passed into popular culture as a rivalry between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, particularly in sport (for example the Roses Match played in County Cricket), although the House of Lancaster was based in York and the House of York in London. In football, matches between Manchester United and Leeds United are usually described as "War of the Roses" games, the teams' home kits being the colour of the respective rose.
Civil War and textile industry
The wool textile industry which had previously been a cottage industry centred on the old market towns moved to the West Riding where entrepreneurs were building mills that took advantage of water power gained by harnessing the rivers and streams flowing from the Pennines. The developing textile industry helped Wakefield and Halifax grow.
The English Reformation began under Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 led to a popular uprising known as Pilgrimage of Grace, started in Yorkshire as a protest. Some Catholics in Yorkshire continued to practise their religion and those caught were executed during the reign of Elizabeth I. One such person was a York woman named Margaret Clitherow who was later canonised.
During the English Civil War, which started in 1642, Yorkshire had divided loyalties; Hull famously shut the gates of the city on the king when he came to enter a few months before fighting began, while the North Riding of Yorkshire in particular was strongly royalist. York was the base for Royalists, and from there they captured Leeds and Wakefield only to have them recaptured a few months later. The royalists won the Battle of Adwalton Moor meaning they controlled Yorkshire (with the exception of Hull). From their base in Hull the Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") fought back, re-taking Yorkshire town by town, until they won the Battle of Marston Moor and with it control of all of the North of England.
In the 16th and 17th centuries Leeds and other wool industry centred towns continued to grow, along with Huddersfield, Hull and Sheffield, while coal mining first came into prominence in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Canals and turnpike roads were introduced in the late 18th century. In the following century the spa towns of Harrogate and Scarborough flourished, due to people believing mineral water had curative properties.
The 19th century saw Yorkshire's continued growth, with the population growing and the Industrial Revolution continuing with prominent industries in coal, textile and steel (especially in Sheffield and Rotherham). However, despite the booming industry, living conditions declined in the industrial towns due to overcrowding, this saw bouts of cholera in both 1832 and 1848. Fortunately for the county, advances were made by the end of the century with the introduction of modern sewers and water supplies. Several Yorkshire railway networks were introduced as railways spread across the country to reach remote areas.County councils were created for the three ridings in 1889, but their area of control did not include the large towns, which became county boroughs, and included an increasingly large part of the population.
During the Second World War, Yorkshire became an important base for RAF Bomber Command and brought the county into the cutting edge of the war.
Main article: History of local government in Yorkshire
In the 1970s there were major reforms of local government throughout the United Kingdom. Some of the changes were unpopular, and controversially Yorkshire and its ridings lost status in 1974 as part of the Local Government Act 1972. The East Riding was resurrected with reduced boundaries in 1996 with the abolition of Humberside. With slightly different borders, the government office entity which currently contains most of Yorkshire is the Yorkshire and the Humberregion of England. This region includes a northern slice of Lincolnshire, but does not include the northern part of the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire (Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland), which is in the North East England region. Other parts of the historic county of Yorkshire are also in other official regions. Saddleworth (now in Greater Manchester); the Forest of Bowland (Lancashire); Sedbergh and Dent (Cumbria) are in the North West England region, and Upper Teesdale (County Durham) is in North East England.
Physical and geological
Main articles: Geology of Yorkshire and List of places in Yorkshire
Historically, the northern boundary of Yorkshire was the River Tees, the eastern boundary was the North Sea coast and the southern boundary was the Humber Estuary and Rivers Don and Sheaf. The western boundary meandered along the western slopes of the Pennine Hills to again meet the River Tees. It is bordered by several other historic counties in the form of County Durham, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire and Westmorland. In Yorkshire there is a very close relationship between the major topographical areas and the geological period in which they were formed. The Pennine chain of hills in the west is of Carboniferous origin. The central vale is Permo-Triassic. The North York Moors in the north-east of the county are Jurassic in age while the Yorkshire Wolds to the south east are Cretaceous chalk uplands.
Yorkshire is drained by several rivers. In western and central Yorkshire the many rivers empty their waters into the River Ouse which reaches the North Sea via the Humber Estuary. The most northerly of the rivers in the Ouse system is the River Swale, which drains Swaledale before passing through Richmond and meandering across the Vale of Mowbray. Next, draining Wensleydale, is the River Ure, which the Swale joins east of Boroughbridge. Near Great Ouseburn the Ure is joined by the small Ouse Gill Beck, and below the confluence the river is known as the Ouse. The River Nidd rises on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and flows along Nidderdale before reaching the Vale of York and the Ouse. The River Wharfe, which drains Wharfedale, joins the Ouse upstream of Cawood. The Rivers Aire and Calder are more southerly contributors to the River Ouse and the most southerly Yorkshire tributary is the River Don, which flows northwards to join the main river at Goole. Further north and east the River Derwent rises on the North York Moors, flows south then westwards through the Vale of Pickering then turns south again to drain the eastern part of the Vale of York. It empties into the River Ouse at Barmby on the Marsh.
In the far north of the county the River Tees flows eastwards through Teesdale and empties its waters into the North Sea downstream of Middlesbrough. The smaller River Esk flows from west to east at the northern foot of the North York Moors to reach the sea at Whitby. To the east of the Yorkshire Wolds the River Hull flows southwards to join the Humber Estuary at Kingston upon Hull.
The western Pennines are drained by the River Ribble which flows westwards, eventually reaching the Irish Sea close to Lytham St Annes.
Main article: Topographical areas of Yorkshire
The countryside of Yorkshire has acquired the common nickname of "God's Own County". Yorkshire includes the North York Moors and Yorkshire DalesNational Parks, and part of the Peak District National Park. Nidderdale and the Howardian Hills are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.Spurn Point, Flamborough Head and the coastal North York Moors are designated Heritage Coast areas, and are noted for their scenic views with rugged cliffs such as the jet cliffs at Whitby, the limestone cliffs at Filey and the chalk cliffs at Flamborough Head. Moor House – Upper Teesdale, most of which is part of the former North Riding of Yorkshire, is one of England's largest national nature reserves.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds runs nature reserves such as the one at Bempton Cliffs with coastal wildlife such as the northern gannet, Atlantic puffin and razorbill. Spurn Point is a narrow, 3 miles (4.8 km) long sand spit. It is a national nature reserve owned by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and is noted for its cyclical nature whereby the spit is destroyed and re-created approximately once every 250 years. There are seaside resorts in Yorkshire with sandy beaches; Scarborough is Britain's oldest seaside resort dating back to the spa town-era in the 17th century, while Whitby has been voted as the United Kingdom's best beach, with a "postcard-perfect harbour".
Geography and the historic divisions
Historically, Yorkshire was divided into three ridings and the Ainsty of York. The term 'riding' is of Viking origin and derives from Threthingr meaning a third part. The three ridings in Yorkshire were named the East Riding, West Riding and North Riding. The East and North Ridings of Yorkshire were separated by the River Derwent and the West and North Ridings were separated by the Ouse and the Ure/Nidd watershed. In 1974 the three ridings of Yorkshire were abolished and York, which had been independent of the three ridings, was incorporated into the new county called North Yorkshire. It later became part of York Unitary Authority.
Cities and towns
Largest cities or towns in Yorkshire
Kingston upon Hull
|4||Kingston upon Hull||East||256,100||14||Keighley||West||70,000|
For statistical purposes, Yorkshire is divided, as of 2018, between three regions of England. Most of the county falls within Yorkshire and the Humber. The extreme northern part of the county, including Great Ayton, Runswick Bay, Middlesbrough and Dalton-on-Tees, falls within North East England. Following administrative boundary changes in 1974, and again in 2013, small areas in the west of the historic county now form part of North West England. During these processes the geographical boundaries, otherwise known as 'historical', remained unchanged.
Within the regions are both ceremonial counties, and the actual units of local government, such as unitary authorities, as detailed at Local government divisions of Yorkshire and the Humber, Local government divisions of North East England and Local government divisions of North West England.
Yorkshire has a mixed economy, and accounts for about 8% of UK GDP. The City of Leeds is Yorkshire's largest city and the leading centre of trade and commerce. Leeds is also one of the UK's larger financial centres. Leeds' traditional industries were mixed; service-based industries, textile manufacturing and coal mining being examples. Tourism is also significant. In 2015, the value of tourism was in excess of £7 billion.
Sheffield once had heavy industries, such as coal mining and the steel industry. Since the decline of such industries Sheffield has attracted tertiary and administrative businesses including more retail trade; Meadowhall being an example. However, while Sheffield's heavy industry has declined, the region has reinvented itself as a centre for specialist engineering. A cluster of hi-tech facilities including The Welding Institute and the Boeing partnered Advanced Materials Research Centre have all helped to raise the region's profile and to bring significant investment into Yorkshire.
Bradford, Halifax, Keighley and Huddersfield once were centres of wool milling. Areas such as Bradford, Dewsbury and Keighley have suffered a decline in their economy since.
North Yorkshire has an established tourist industry, supported by the presence of two national parks (Yorkshire Dales National Park, North York Moors National Park), Harrogate, York and Scarborough and this industry is also growing in Leeds. Kingston upon Hull is Yorkshire's largest port and has a large manufacturing base, its fishing industry has however declined somewhat in recent years. Harrogate and Knaresborough both have small legal and financial sectors. Harrogate is a European conference and exhibition destination with both the Great Yorkshire Showground and Harrogate International Centre in the town.
Coal mining was extremely active in the south of the county during the 19th century and for most of the 20th century, particularly around Barnsley and Wakefield. As late as the 1970s, the number of miners working in the area was still in six figures. The industry was placed under threat on 6 March 1984 when the National Coal Board announced the closure of 20 pits nationwide (some of them in South Yorkshire). By March 2004, a mere three coalpits remained open in the area. Three years later, the only remaining coal pit in the region was Maltby Colliery near Rotherham.