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Things You May Not Know About Leeds

by Kimberley & Wade Benn, Sep 2018

Leeds, the largest city in the North, is the epicentre of many historical and cultural developments, both in times gone by and also more contemporarily. Aside from being a powerhouse of financial services and manufacturing, and host of one of the biggest festivals in the country, there are many interesting facts that most people don’t know about Leeds. Here are some of them:

Hippopotami once lived here

It may be hard to imagine hippos wandering around Hyde Park, but in 1984, the fossilised bones of the African animal were found near Armley Gyratory. They are believed to be around 130,000 years old and are now on display at Leeds City Museum. The hippo is around 9.5 times larger than the largest animal currently native to the UK, the Stag.

Leeds is where cinema began

Literally. Louis Le Prince captured the first motion picture at Oakwood Grange and Leeds Bridge in 1888. The industry now worth $36 billion started with a simple 2.11-second garden scene from Leeds. Talk about humble beginnings (or maybe Humber beginnings?)

One infamous political philosopher wrote for the local paper

Possibly the most famous intellectuals of the 20th century, Karl Marx, wrote for the chartist paper Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser. This caused issues between the newspapers founder Feargus O’Connor and editor George Julian Harney, who published Marx’s articles. O’Connor accused Harney of being a ‘socialist first and a chartist second’.

The last flat cap manufacturer in the UK was in Leeds

Easily the most stereotypical fact on this list, Holbeck JW Myers was the biggest flat cap manufacturer in the world in the 1920’s. However, by 2000, production in the UK was far too costly and the factories were moved to China.

Leeds is home to a mummy

Since 1824, Priest Natsef-Amun has lived in Leeds. He used to have company too, but during the Second World War, the former museum of Leeds was bombed and all but one mummy was destroyed. Leeds appears to have more properties commonly associated with Africa than most people realise.