West Yorkshire was the industrial heartland of Yorkshire and there is still a great deal of this history to see today. The city of Leeds has a well-founded reputation as one of the factories of the Industrial Revolution and these days it is an important centre for finance, commerce, and law. That said, it's not the drab city it sometimes made out to be. Leeds is one of England's best destinations for shopping and its also a fascinating place for architecture buffs. The grand Victorian buildings, once stained by smog and smoke, have been polished and cleaned and are now beautiful heritage attractions.

Bradford is another industrial town that was known for its worsted wool in particular. Just outside this culturally diverse city is one of the 19th century's most famous milling towns, Saltaire, a purpose built community that aimed to improve the lives of mill workers. Today, the old mill houses the world's best collection of works by artist David Hockney.

Haworth is Brontë country. Though the sisters were born in nearby Thornton, they spent much of their lives at Haworth Parsonage, as their father was curate of the adjoining church. Haworth is a quaint village with tea rooms lining its cobbled streets, a vintage charm that brings in droves of people annually to celebrate a 1940s weekend. 

Victorian Quarter, LeedsLeeds (715,500) is better known as one of the engines of the Industrial Revolution, home to wool and flax industries and iron foundries. However, these days it is a commercial, financial, and legal hub – the UK’s most important outside London. Aside from these rather austere arenas, it is also a consumer paradise: This city is certainly one for the shopoholics. Within the grand old Victorian architecture of this city, no longer blackened by smoke stacks, beats a modern, modernizing heart but more surprising is the proximity of escape into nature: Yorkshire Dales National Park is an easy 20 minutes away.

Leeds is located on the River Aire and in the Aire valley. It occupies an exceptionally large metropolitan district but the main city centre essentially falls within the Inner Ring Road. Leeds Bradford Airport is 12 km north of Leeds and transfers into town are simple: bus 757 (£2) leaves every 30 minutes for the city centre or, of course, taxis are available. Leeds City Bus Station with services to further afield – e.g. Bradford, Hull, York- is situated at York St. Leeds Train Station is situated at New Station St. There is also a bus interchange outside the station for local buses. Visit here for localised travel assistance and details about both bus and rail services. Details about national services may be found at here.

Discover one of the UK’s best collections of 20th century British art at the Leeds (City) Art Gallery (The Headrow, +44 113 247 8248, free admission). Local artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore are particularly featured.

And when you’re done in the main gallery, walk across to the Henry Moore Institute (The Headrow, +44 113 246 7467 , free admission) which showcases the best in sculpture from all over the world. There is also a reference library for research and an archive.

Kirkstall AbbeyKirkstall Abbey (Abbey Rd, +44 113 230 5492, free admission) wears its 900 years well. Admire the 12th century architecture and learn about how the Cistercian monks spent their days here for around 400 years until the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII.

Leed’s Royal Armouries (Armouries Drive, +44 113 220 1999, free admission) is not a dull procession of swords in dusty cases; it is an entertaining mix of live jousting, falconry, and a regular programme of dramatic, costumed interpretations of various kinds of combat. The magnificent Hall of Steel, a steel and glass tower displaying over 2500 objects, is a must-see.

If shopping is your passion, indulge it in Leeds: Briggate is a pedestrianised shopping street in the city centre with all the major UK brands as well as restaurants and cafes; for a more upmarket experience, head over to the Victoria Quarter (4 Cross Arcade, +44 113 245 5333) known as ‘The Knightsbridge of the North’. Here luxe brands are housed within Art Nouveau splendour; Kirkgate Market (28-34 George St, +44 113 214 5162) Europe’s largest indoor market, occupies beautiful Edwardian quarters and sells anything and everything; The Corn Exchange (42 Call Lane, +44 113 234 0363) dates back to 1864 and is still used for trade but these days it holds a number fine restaurants and boutiques.

Leeds CanalDrift through the 91 locks of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which took 46 years to construct. The famous Five-Rise locks at Bingley are worth a look. The canal joins the River Aire at Leeds, where redevelopments are underway to reinvigorate the riverside with apartments and businesses.

Brace your stomach before you come eye to eye with Victorian medicine at the Thackray Museum (Beckett St, +44 113 244 4343, Adults £6.50). Interactive exhibits bring the (slightly disgusting) history of health and surgery to life.  
Built off the back of the West Indian sugar trade by Edwin Lascelles in the mid-18th century, Harewood House (Harewood, +44 113 218 1010, Adults £11 low season, £13 high season) is one of the best examples of the English ‘stately home’. There’s plenty to do with cookery demonstrations, tours, and talks or you could just feed the penguins in the Bird Garden or wander the grounds, which are complete with a Bhutanese stupa.

Discovery Inn (Bishopgate St, +44 113 242 2555, from £41) Simple rooms and good location. There have been some cleanliness issues though.

Adriatic Hotel (83-9 Harehills Avenue, +44 113 262 0115, £46) Good basic hotel out in a lively suburb. Don’t expect luxury but do expect helpful and friendly service.

Jurys Inn Leeds
(Kendell St, Brewery Place, +44 113 283 8800, from £50) Sleek and simple design with a good location. The parking facilities are not very convenient though.

City Inn
(Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf 2, +44 113 241 1000, from £59) Fresh modern rooms, excellent service, and a funky location beside the canal.


Saltaire millsBradford (pop. 293,700) was known in the 19th century for its textile manufacturing, most particularly for its worsted wool. This industrial heritage can be seen all over the city in the mills themselves and the villages built to service them: Saltaire is one of the best examples of these grand Victorian visions. Immigration, particularly from South Asia, has changed the face of Bradford dramatically and the different cultures of the city are still learning to live together. 

To understand Bradford’s layout, you might think of a bicycle wheel: the city centre forms the hub in the middle and main roads lead out in all directions, generally passing through a wider ring road that is largely made up of the A6177.

Leeds Bradford Airport is around 15 minutes by car from Bradford but there are also bus services -737 and 747 (£1.80). Visit here for more details. Bradford may be reached by train but remember that there are two main railway stations: Forster Square Station and the Bradford Interchange at Bridge St. For assistance in planning your journey, visit here. Finally, National Express run coach services between the Bradford Interchange and such destinations at London, Leeds, and Manchester. Visit here for details.   

The history of film, TV, radio, photography and the internet are well and truly covered at the National Media Museum [+44 87070 10200, free admission]. Search the TV archive for British classics, take a look at some retro games consoles, visit the cinema, and enjoy the IMAX movies on offer. 

Bradford Industrial Museum
[Mooreside Rd, Eccleshill, +44 1274 431212, free admission] was once one of many worsted spinning mills that dotted the city in the 19th century but it is now dedicated to showcasing industrial history. Learn about textile machinery and how the mill workers lived and meet the working horses of the museum.

A visit to Bradford would not be complete without a trip to nearby Saltaire [Shipley, Saltaire, +44 1274 531163, free admission], one of the most compelling examples of the milling towns of the Industrial Revolution. Built in 1853, Saltaire was a model village which aimed to improve the lives of mill workers with adequate housing, recreational facilities, healthcare and education. Today, the mill houses the largest collection of artist David Hockney’s works.

Ivy Guesthouse
(3 Melbourne Place, +44 1274 727060, £19 per person) Well-priced for its location but nothing more than simple digs from which to get out and explore.

The Dubrovnik Hotel (3 Oak Avenue, + 1274 543511, £62) A long time family run hotel that has all the benefits of bigger chains. A beautiful little place in a good location.

Hilton Bradford (Hall Ings Rd, +44 1274 734 734, £69) This addition to the Hilton chain has had mixed reviews but if you get the right room, it can be great value for money on all fronts: food, room, service, and location.

Midland Hotel
(Forster Square, +44 1274 735735, £116) The public areas are beautiful examples of Victorian design while the rooms are fresh and elegant.

Great Victoria (Bridge St, +44 1274 728706, £119) Great service and a grand old fashioned atmosphere. The rooms themselves, however, are modern and simple. 


Haworth www.bronte.org.ukH
aworth (pop. 5,000)  is a quaint little mix of tea rooms, cafes, and cobbles within the magnificent bleakness of the South Pennine moors. The Brontë sisters were born in nearby Thornton but spent much of their lives at Haworth Parsonage. It was here that most of their classic novels were written. Come in May in time for the 1940s weekend and enjoy the vintage clothes, cars, and events.

The famous cobbled main street of Haworth is quite steep and leads down, skirting a park, to the steam railway station. The steam train on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway line runs every weekend and daily throughout the summer period. There are also many bus services (663, 664, 665, 720 or 500) from Keighley, which itself can be reached easily by train from Leeds. For details and journey planning, visit here or here.  

Reverend Patrick Brontë, father of the famous sisters, was curate at the St. Michael and All Angels Parish Church (Church St, +44 1535 640293, free admission). The Bronte family are buried in a vault within the church. 

The Brontë Parsonage Museum (Church St, +44 1535 642323, £6.50) was built in 1799 and was the home of the Brontë family from 1820 to 1861. The museum aims to show how the family lived and is always developing new exhibitions.

The South Pennine Moors stretch from Ilkley Moor in the north to Matlock in the south and are a wild and dramatic landscape. A number of places are connected with the Brontës: Top Withins is often reputed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights – it might not be true but it is an evocative spot.

The Apothecary Guest House [86 Main St, +44 1535 643642, £55] An historic building dating back to 1640, it does have its quirks, but the place is good value considering the location - right opposite the Brontë Church.

Fleece Inn [67 Main St, +44 1535 642172, £75-90] An inn where Branwell Brontë himself used to drink. Good comfy accommodation in an historic building with friendly service and great food.  

Rosebud Cottage [1 Belle Isle Rd, +44 1535 640321, £80] The rooms are cosy and quaint and the staff are friendly. This B&B is outside the centre of town (still only 5 minutes walk) so it’s a great spot for those who like peace and quiet.

Weavers [15 West Lane, +44 1535 643822, £110] Beautiful bar and restaurant area and very individual rooms but the best part is the mouth-watering breakfast menu.

The Old Registry (2-4 Main St, +44 1535 646503, £75-120) Individually themed rooms in a lovely old house. Good food and good service. They do a great little packed lunch for walkers too – with rucksack, flask and map included.

Ashmount Country House [Mytholmes Lane, +44 1535 645726, £75-185] Close to The Parsonage, the Ashmount is a B&B where romance rules the day. Beautiful rooms and a wonderful range of extra special treats you can book for your guy or girl.