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Flickr: Paul Townsend

Ten things you might not know about Leeds

Written by
Tina Walsh

Did you know that a pillar of the establishment – and erstwhile Spitting Image puppet – comes from Leeds? Or that one of the world’s most famous bands once turned up unannounced to play a tiny little club? No? Read on for more Leeds factoids that might surprise you.

1) The Olympic pool wasn’t too short after all.


Contrary to urban myth, Leeds International Pool wasn't used for the competition because it was six inches too short but because it was too narrow to meet International Standard. Poor thing.

2) An abandoned network of offices and corridors lies underneath Leeds railway station.
Dating back to the 1860s, the network is part of the old Victorian station.
3) Leeds has coined a new phrase for men’s slim-fitting trousers.

"Leeds leg", as seen in The Sunday Times' Style mag a few weeks ago, is now apparently a term used for the sartorial look achieved by gents who favour ultra-tight, ankle-restricting leg wear.

4) Jeremy Paxman comes from Leeds.

Flickr: Duncan Hull

He of the cutting riposte and withering put down was born in the city on 11 May 1950.

5) The Clash once played an impromptu gig in Leeds in the 1980s.

Joe Strummer and his bandmates turned up one Saturday afternoon and played for a few hours at the city's legendary goth club Le Phonographique nightclub (aka The Phono), which used to be housed underneath the Merrion Centre.

6) Leeds has the second longest-running Caribbean carnival in Europe

Flickr: Bryan Ledgard

Notting Hill Carnival came first in 1966, Leeds' West Indian Carnival a year later, although they both claim to be the oldest. 

7) A Leeds MP is the only Chancellor of the Exchequer to have appeared on The Morecambe and Wise Show.
Denis Healey, the man with the big bushy eyebrows, was a guest on the TV show at the height of its popularity in the 1970s.

8) The first ever moving images were recorded in Leeds

Flickr: '(p_khoo)

The images were filmed by a Frenchman, Louis Le Prince, in Roundhay Park and on Leeds Bridge in 1888.

9) Leeds Bradford International Airport is the highest in Britain
The airport stands at an elevation of 681 feet – or 208 metres – above sea level.

10) Harry Houdini almost met his end in Leeds
In 1911, the famous contortionist nearly drowned at Tetley’s Brewery after he was challenged to escape from a padlocked metal cask full of ale. He was rescued by his assistant.

Flickr: Terri Molini

Get to grips with Leeds slang.

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