Leeds' Number One Suburb
● The Original Village Headingley was originally a village on a hill, quite independent of Leeds town. In fact, in Viking times, Headingley's Shire Oak (or Skyrack) was the centre of the local wapentake, in its own right. It still retains (some of) the village green, surrounded by the church (St Michael’s) and two pubs (both named after the Original Oak).
● The First Suburb Headingley was the first neighbouring village to become a suburb of Leeds, as merchants moved out along Headingley Lane to live on Headingley Hill. The A660 now leads directly to the city centre in one direction – and out to the Dales country in the other.
● Leeds’ first bus service ran to the new suburb of Headingley, and the Number One service still does so. The X84 service runs out to Lower Wharfedale – one of the best bus rides in Britain! The railway runs beside Headingley, and Headingley and Burley Park stations connect to Leeds itself and to Harrogate and York.
● The Finest Suburb “Headingley has the most important group of large and small villas and mansions in the city” (Pevsner). There are many such houses on Headingley Hill and along Headingley Lane and Otley Road up to Far Headingley. Many are now converted to fine apartments. Terraces followed the merchants’ mansions, both old stone terraces and Victorian brick terraces, including small back-to-backs (ideal for starter families), smaller terraced housing, and some grand terraces along Otley Road. Terraces in turn were followed by inter-war semi-detached developments, such as the ‘sunshine houses’ in Alma Road, and the classic ‘thirties semis of The Turnways and Beckett’s Park. The largest modern development is Central Park in Far Headingley. Families are served by seven primary schools, and two secondary, Lawnswood and Leeds City Academy, at opposite ends of the neighbourhood.
● Headingley has been designated a suburban Town Centre by the Council. As such, it is home to many independent shops like the Natural Food Store and Harris greengrocer and the Artisan Baker, and every month it hosts the Farmers Market. The old Arndale Centre is being refurbished as Headingley Central, and is home to chains like Sainsbury’s, Superdrug and Wilko, as well as the Post Office. The Town Centre also has a wide range of restaurants, like the famous Salvo’s, and pubs such as Arcadia.
● The Famous Suburb Headingley is probably better know in some parts of the world than Leeds itself! – thanks to the world-famous Stadium. This is home to Yorkshire County Cricket Club and to Leeds Rhinos Rugby League and Yorkshire Carnegie Rugby Union Clubs, and frequently hosts international matches. There’s plenty of opportunity for active involvement in sport, with the many clubs in Headingley. And the neighbourhood is surrounded by parks for outdoor recreation, including Woodhouse Moor, Woodhouse Ridge, Meanwood Park, The Hollies, West Park Fields and Beckett Park.
● Ball and book (body and soul?) symbolise the resources available in Headingley. The local public library is on North Lane, and it often hosts literary events, including the annual Headingley LitFest. There are still two historic suburban cinemas, the Hyde Park Picture House and the Cottage Road Cinema. With the city’s two main universities in or by Headingley, the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University, the community supports a wide range of cultural activities, like the Music Festival, at a range of venues, especially HEART (Headingley Enterprise & Arts Centre), the main community centre.
For a general history of Headingley and its neighbourhood, go to History of Headingley.