The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Leeds City Centre

The Cosmopolitan is one of the oldest Hotels in Leeds, formerly known as The Golden Lion Hotel it has been open to guest for over 100 years.

Leeds City

Weaving was introduced into West Yorkshire in the reign of Edward III, and Cistercians, such as at Kirkstall, were certainly engaged in sheep farming. Leland records the organised trading of cloth on the bridge over the Aire, at the foot of Briggate, at specified times and under set conditions. The traded woollen cloth was predominantly of home manufacture, produced in the villages and settlements surrounding Leeds. Bradford, by contrast, was the centre of the worsted cloth trade.

By the 20th century this social and economic had started to change with the creation of the academic institutions that are known today as the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University. This period had also witnessed expansion in medical provision, particularly Leeds General Infirmary and St James's Hospital. Following World War II there has been, as in many other cities, a decline in secondary industries that thrived in the 19th century. However this decline was reversed in the growth of new tertiary industries such as retail, call centres, offices and media. Today Leeds is known as one of eight core cities that act as a focus of their respective regions.

Briggate, Leeds City Centre

It is one of the oldest streets in the city of Leeds and was founded in 1207 when the road began on the north side of the Leeds Bridge over the River Aire. The name 'Briggate' derives from 'the road to the bridge'.

There was a Moot Hall in the centre of Briggate, which was built in 1615 as a courthouse, but it was pulled down in 1825. The statue of Queen Anne that adorned its front is now in the entrance hall of Leeds Art Gallery.

During the English Civil War a pitched battle was fought for the control of Leeds along the length of Briggate. The Battle of Leeds on 23 January 1643 saw a Parliamentarian force under Sir Thomas Fairfax take the town from the Royalist forces of Sir William Savile. Fairfax lead his troops in an attack on a ditch and rampart the Royalists had dug running parallel to Briggate from St John's Church all the way down to the Aire, while a simultaneous attack took place on Leeds Bridge.

The bridge  was built to be extraordinarily wide so that it could host a market, although this was later moved to a new building on Vicar Lane, Kirkgate Market, that still exists as the City Markets today.

Briggate was originally the main north-south thoroughfare in Leeds from where the city grew. Trams ran along the street until the 1950s when the Leeds Tramway closed. For many years the street was open to traffic but it was gradually pedestrianised - in 1993, only public transport vehicles were allowed to use the street, and in 1996 it was closed altogether to all except pedestrian traffic. This was done to attract new retailers to the street and to encourage more shoppers. In phases from 2004 to 2006, Briggate was properly pedestrianised with paving in York Stone, removing the roadway and pavements that remained. It was the first phase of a wider repaving scheme across the city centre that is ongoing.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the run-down County and Cross Arcades, and Queen Victoria Street, were redeveloped to create the Victoria Quarter, which included arcading Queen Victoria Street. It was originally intended to be a centre for independent retailers, but its excellence in design has led to it becoming a centre for designer brands.

Following the Victoria Quarter developments, the Empire Palace was demolished to make way for the glass-fronted flagship Harvey Nichols department store that now characterises the street.

In 2004, transformation started on the Grand Theatre on New Briggate. The project will give an enlarged and higher quality home to Opera North, as well as regenerating New Briggate.

In 2008, demolition work started on the 1970s Burton Arcade at the southern end of Briggate to make way for the Trinity Quarter. Marks and Spencer and Topshop will be enlarged as part of the project, which will open in 2010.

As of 2008, Market Street Arcade which faces the Burton Arcade at the southern end of Briggate and leading to Central Road was closed to make way for a redeveloped arcade with an extra level, glass roof and new tenants.

Lower Briggate

Lower Briggate. It was home to Dysons Chambers, restaurants, small shops, bars and pubs. In 2007, Briggate was decorated in lights to celebrate its 800th birthday.

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