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Our 10 favourite weird facts about Leeds

Leeds neon sign

When you dig a little into the history of any location you’re bound to find some strange details, and some of the weird facts about Leeds we’ve unearthed prove that our fine city is no exception! Here are some of the favourites that we’ve come across…

The weird discovery of Hippo bones in Leeds

Take a walk around Leeds today and the last thing you’ll be reminded of is the sub-Saharan plains of Africa – the home of the hippopotamus! Times change, however, because in 1851 the skeleton of an ancient hippo was uncovered during regeneration work. It was believed to be 100,000 years old from a time when Leeds did resemble Africa – cool, huh?!

A Gladiator at Leeds United?

Our favourite weird fact about Leeds is that in 2015 celebrity Leeds United fan, Russell Crowe, was interested in buying the club, but eventually decided that he’d miss his family too much, so he’s sticking with Rugby League side, Sydney Rabbitohs, which he’s owned since 2006.

Famous locals

Some of the celebrated names to have been born and bred in Leeds are actors, Peter O’Toole and John Simm; Playwright, Alan Bennett; comedians, Ernie Wise and Barry Cryer, and charity founder, Sue Ryder. Leeds was also the hometown of the photographer, William H. Illingworth, who was responsible for many of the iconic images we have of the 19th century Wild West – a long way from home!

Home to the last gas-lit cinema

Hyde Park Picture House was opened in 1914, and it still showing movies to the public – and lighting the way with gas-fuelled lights! It’s well worth a visit as one of the finest examples of a traditional cinema in the country, and they often show classic movies too, so you really feel like you’ve been transported back in time!

County maps were invented here

Yes, back in 1579 the first Atlas of the Counties of England and Wales was produced, thanks largely to the work of cartographer, Christopher Saxon. The Tingley resident revolutionised map use in the UK with the encouragement and financial backing of Queen Elizabeth I – we may never have invented sat navs without him!

And finally…

In 2003, Leeds was named ‘The Best Place in Britain to Live’ in Henley Management College’s ‘Urban Behaviours’ study – a fact that we can’t and will never dispute!

We hope that you’ve enjoyed learning some of these weird facts about Leeds, but if we’ve missed something you love about the city, check in with us on Twitter and let us know!