For the last time, Leeds today: here’s where we get our news, where we’ll get it in future, thanks, and cheerio.

This is the last post we’ll make on BGL. This is a sad thing. But here’s how you can get your hands on the same news we did – although the pithy commentary you’ll have to come up with by yourself. If you’re panicking that without BGL you’ll be out of the loop here’s a little list of some of our sources.

First, the news:

The Guardian Northerner. The Guardian was obviously the original inspiration for BGL, but its Northerner section tends to focus on Manchester. You might be better off just hitting the Leeds story link.

The Yorkshire Post tends to be regional stuff, while the Yorkshire Evening Post is more local. Click on the ‘Latest News’ menu option and you can get news in your area of Leeds. Both have a tendency to report the shock/horror stories, unfortunately, which BGL has tried to avoid. Equally, the BBC has a Leeds and West Yorkshire page, as does ITV’s Calendar. Both are good for the really big stories, but those tend to be the more depressing ones.

A little on the dry side, but succinct and informative, there’s the Council’s news service.

In blog terms, first on my list is the truly awesome Leeds Citizen. If ever there were an argument for blogs bettering the professional local news services, this guy would win every time. Not only is he first with stories, but he gives you genuine analysis alongside humour and cynicism, and (importantly) links to original sources. If you’re not already, do follow!

Next up, if you live in south Leeds, is South Leeds Life. An exemplary local blog with some really good writers and contributors. I’d recommend reading ‘South of the River’ every Friday even if you don’t live in that area. Not updated as often, but for the north of Leeds is northleeds-news, and the similarly-named North Leeds Life. The only site for East Leeds hasn’t been updated for a long time, but just in case it comes back into play, keep your eye on it. Currently there doesn’t seem to be a West Leeds local news site, but many local areas across Leeds have community blogs, such as Kirkstall where there’s also TCV Hollybush.

City-wide, The City Talking has recently started a daily 5pm news update. They also have ‘Things to See & Do’ each week, and other updates on sports, lifestyle, music, etc. And if you’re a student, Leeds Student is the site to check out. Recently revamped.

Next up, fun (i.e. culture)

Knowing what’s on is the job of Leeds Inspired, an ongoing listing run by the Council. A major advantage is that it links to original sites and sometimes tells you about things that don’t have websites or Twitter accounts, so you’d otherwise never hear about.

As far as reviews go, we should top the list with The Culture Vulture. In fact, even more than reading the website, I’d recommend following the Culture Vulturess on Twitter, as she frequently mentions events that I’d not hear about elsewhere, re-tweets interesting people, facts and links, and poses questions to make you reconsider your day. If there’s one blog you should be reading it’s this one.

Another good source for the arts, especially for upcoming exhibitions, is Leeds Art Scene.

Leeds Love Affair is all about the independents, be they eateries, drinking holes, shops or places to visit, and Leeds does well in that department. Also, the editor is lovely.

Leeds-List is good for lists (funnily enough), be it of types of restaurant, New Year events, or pubs in alleyways.

We have so many festivals that I couldn’t begin to list them. The local parks mostly have one in the summer, so keep your eye out for announcements on the local blogs listed above. The increasing literature festivals include Ilkley (http://www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk/), Morley (http://www.morleyliteraturefestival.co.uk/), Headingley (http://www.headingleylitfest.org.uk/) and the Leeds Big Bookend (http://www.bigbookend.co.uk/).

We have festivals for Print (http://leedsprintfestival.com/), Data (http://www.leedsdatathing.co.uk/), International Beer (http://www.leedsbeer.com/), International Film (http://www.leedsfilm.com/) and comics (http://thoughtbubblefestival.com/). There’s Light Night (http://lightnightleeds.co.uk/), and while West Leeds may not have a news blog, it does have an arts festival: I Love West Leeds (http://ilovewestleeds.co.uk/).

A tiny selection of the clubs and societies I’ve heard about:

The ever-increasing Leeds Book Clubs! (http://www.leedsbookclub.com/)
Homage 2 Fromage, or cheese club (http://www.clubhomage2fromage.co.uk/)
Leeds Meeples, who play not-your-average board games (http://www.leedsmeeples.org.uk/)
MathsJam (http://www.mathsjam.com/index.php?content=leeds)
Knitting at Yarnia (no website, just a Twitter account: https://twitter.com/Yarnia_Leeds)
The Clandestine Cake Club, which started in Leeds (http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/)
Leeds Craft Club (http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/leeds-craft-club-3102528734)
Singing at High Spirits Choir (http://www.highspiritschoir.co.uk/)
There are also all sorts of social groups on Meetup (http://uk.meetup.com/), from languages, to politics, to sports.

If you want to learn something:

Leeds Salon (http://leedssalon.org.uk/)
The Cafés Scientifique (http://www.cafescientifique.org/) in Chapel A, Headingley and at Leeds City Museum (for which Ally writes the blog, http://cafescileedsmuseum.wordpress.com/)
Skeptics in the Pub (http://www.leedsskeptics.org/)
Leeds Art Walk (http://leedsartwalk.wordpress.com/)
Penny University (http://pennyunileeds.wordpress.com/)

Finally, two quirky and original ideas that we have in this fine city of ours. For every event, we are provided with a suitable stream of music, courtesy of Leeds Playlist (http://leedsplaylist.wordpress.com/). Then there’s People of Leeds, our own Twitter rotation curation account, wo/manned each week by a resident or worker in Leeds, and always interesting (http://peopleofleeds.blogspot.co.uk/).

But, that’s not all. Y’see, we came from the remnants of Guardian Leeds, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes of BGL we’ll have… The Leeds Guardian. Set up in a similar way to BGL and Guardian Leeds the Leeds Guardian (https://twitter.com/Leedsgdn and http://www.theleedsguardian.com/) will carry on doing what we’ve been doing, only perhaps considerably more professionally. There’s an actual journo at the helm – let’s call them The Duck – and there will be syndicated content from other sources, links with n0tice and Witness and much more besides. It will be an exciting time. We really hope that you follow them on twitter and sign up with the website when it goes properly live – we certainly will.

There’s a list of people I would like to thank, although I’m undoubtedly going to miss someone off the list. Let’s start with the contributors to the daily blog: John Baron, Sophie Devonshire, Kirsty Ware, Tom Goodhand, Mark O’Brien, Kathleen Hawkins, Joseph McDonagh, Michael Muncaster, Joe Cooper, Nikki Mitchell, Paisley Gilmour, Faye Dobson, Naziya O’Reilly, Alison Neale and Hazel Wheldon. Thank you all, because without you I would have folded in six weeks.

Then there’s the people who wrote the occasional blog post for us when I was properly stuck (and I know I’m going to forget someone here, so apologies if it’s you – get in touch and I’ll fix it asap): Chris Nickson, Niamh Foley, Morticia, Lloyd Spencer, Fran Graham, Jane Zanzoterra, Racheal Johnson, Lizzie Donegan, Darren Potter and the Leeds Beer Festival guys, Mike McKenney, those crazy guys at Can You Dig It, and last (but by no means least) Lola Wilson. You kept things interesting; brilliant work, guys.

Elly Snare fits into both of the above categories. She also kept the blog going during the first year and a half by poking me with a stick. She deserves much credit (and thanks, and probably blame) for this mad plan. Also, huge thanks to Johnny I’anson at BBC Radio Leeds who let me blether on every now and then on his Friday afternoon show. That was fun. Speaking of radio, thanks to Richard Horsman and everybody at Leeds Trinity University who let me steal students.

PRs who were human, not ‘bots poking at email lists: thanks. You were fun. Stay human, please.

To those of you who tried to keep me vaguely stable over the last few years, the friends, family, drinking partners and reprobates; you’re all stars and I’m dreadfully fond of you all. Yes, even you.

My better half, Sarah, who kept me sane and didn’t look at me like Paddington Bear when I came home and told her this whole blog was happening, deserves all the love and thanks and appreciation I can muster and then some.

Finally, thanks to you, the readers, without whom we’d just be shouting at mountains. An audience was the reason we did this. We set out to tell the stories that weren’t being told, and asked you to tell us them. You did that and you read those tales. We cannot thank you enough.

Stay firm and vivid, guys. Love Leeds and everything it can offer. It is there if you look for it.

Cheerio.

~m.

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Leeds today: tropics, Post, airport, trolleybus, loans, O’Toole, houses, polling, hustlers and arts.

Hello! Wednesday, and with just one more post to go before we shut up shop it’s starting to feel a bit like Christmas Party week. Thankfully no hangovers.

The Yorkshire Post building has been sold for a mere £2M. Apparently the new owner is currently seeking permission to turn it into a car park, but the end result is looking to be student flats. Hm.

While down south they bicker over which airport expands, Leeds Bradford Airport is getting more routes with Monarch Airlines. This is pretty nifty, although I had no idea that sort of capacity exists at LBA.

The YEP reports on more delays on the trolleybus; apparently the delay on getting the nod in 2015 has always been factored into LCC’s plans with construction to start in ’17 or ’18, but the (oh, please don’t be a forlorn hope) change in government in ’15 could throw everything out of the window – nobody knows what’ll happen.

My favourite place in Leeds, The Leeds Library, is preparing for its 250th birthday. North Leeds Life tells us all about it. If you’re not a member of the Leeds Library you really should be.

Peter O’Toole, who died earlier this week, speaks on video about growing up in Hunslet. It’s not a good view, but worth hearing.

Some interesting figures have arisen in a new report breaking down borrowing by postcode across the country. An area of Leeds has the most personal loans per person, which really isn’t good. However, it’s not the areas you think it is:

…people living in the Leeds postal sector of LS17, which includes Harewood and Moortown, owe an average of £1,516 in personal loans per head…

Keeping up with the Joneses costs a lot, it seems.

House prices in Yorkshire are increasing more slowly than elsewhere. Funny how this is reported as a bad thing, but seems rather good to me! Really, in order to get on the ladder these days you need to sell a kidney or something.

There have been some (long planned) changes to polling districts in Leeds. These changes aren’t going to affect the 8 parliamentary constituencies, however. Those changes are still in the pipeline for after the general election in 2015, though.

Leeds students are considering action to protest the government’s plans to privatise student loans. Hopefully there won’t be a repeat of the absurd scenes at UCL in London where the police showed up mob-handed to arrest, kettle, and use batons.

Northern Writer’s Award recipient Ben Myers talks about the sad fact that the modern writer has also to be a hustler. Worth a read, especially if you’re in the arts.

Highlights of 2013 from the Henry Moore Institute on Leeds Art Scene; they’ve had some cracking stuff this year.

Things to See and Do this week is pretty well populated with interesting things!

And we end today with Totally Tropical Christmas, from Friday at tropical World. Christmas in the warm. Lovely.

And that’s it from our brilliant, underappreciated researcher Alison Neale, who signs off with thanks to all those who make Leeds such a great place to live, with so many cultural, fun events and interesting experiments going on. Many thanks to Ally for all her help over the last year and we wish her well. (Yes, on Friday you get Mike’s farewells. We’re stringing this out a bit.)

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you on Friday!

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Lees today: voting, Royal Park, services, roads, indies, whisky, activity, carols and wildlife.

Good morning all! Hope that you all enjoyed your weekends. This is my (Hazel’s) final post for BGL :(. I’ll save my thank yous till the end and crack on with filling you in on what’s happening in and around Leeds.

To start with a REMINDER: the voter registration deadline is fast approaching! Make sure that you remember to send off the form to avoid a home visit by officers or, if you’re seriously unlucky, a £1000 fine. The deadline for the returned form is the 18th December (this Wednesday).

For the few months I’ve been following (and sharing with you) the fate of the old Royal Park Primary School building in Hyde Park. There was major protest against the decision to bulldoze the building, but nevertheless, the bulldozers are (disappointingly) set to move in after council bosses rejected a final attempt to turn the site into a community hub.

Leeds City Council is set to shutdown council buildings that are in low demand over the Christmas period. Non-essential services will be closed to reduce energy and building costs from 24th December until the New Year.

The proposals to expand the White Rose Shopping Centre (that I mentioned a few weeks back) have been given the go ahead by planning bosses. What does this mean? A new 12-screen cinema and various new restaurants, among other things.

Drivers in the city be warned- city centre streets are facing further closures in an attempt to boost the city’s night-time economy. The hope is that by pedestrianizing more of the city, more shoppers will be attracted to the ‘retail core’.

Leeds-list, ever the promoter of independent shops in Leeds, address the question: are the supermarkets taking over? The continuous growth of supermarket chains is squashing local businesses, as the supermarket monopoly undercuts independent shop prices and pushes local shops sourcing from local producers out of business.

The next few weeks will bring excessive food and alcohol intake, so here’s some additional inspiration…

Leeds-list brings a ‘whiskey drinker’s guide to Leeds’. It’s what it says on the tin: a list of recommended establishments where whiskey is done well.

On a similar, but less specific, note, we’re also gifted with a list of the all-time best bars in just outside of Leeds.

This post is appropriately named ‘screw the diet, it’s Christmas’. So if you’re after something particularly indulgent, then be sure to check this one out…

Once the post-Christmas food guilt sets in, you might feel obliged to get out and about and do something more active. In that case, take a look at recommended places to visit/ activities to get up to in the close by North York Moors.

Alternatively, there’s a wildlife photography exhibition at the Old Grammar School Gallery until the 31st December that definitely looks worth a visit.

If Christmas carols float your boat, then the Learning Trust in South Leeds will be hosting their annual carol concert at St Mary’s Church, Middleton at 6pm this Wednesday. The children’s choir, community choir and Salvation Army band will be performing.

That’s about it, folks! Thanks to everyone who has taken a bit of time out of their hectic Monday morning to read these posts, and to BGL editor Mike Wallis for taking me on board as part of the team, being endlessly helpful and encouraging and for taking the time to correct my sleepy post-weekend spelling errors every week!

I hope that you all have a lovely Christmas and New Years!

Over and out.

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Leeds today: triskadekaphobia, service, recycling, lapdancers, expansion, policing, supermarkets, voting, movies and culture.

Morning! Friday the thirteenth. Hm. Ok.

There was a service last night at Leeds Minster in memory of Nelson Mandela (leads to video). Two things, here: we reported on Leeds Parish Church being made a minster earlier in the year (although it’ll take a while for the name to change in people’s memory); and by all accounts all of the services for Mandela have been joyous, happy celebrations of a great man’s life. Good for them. Po-faced misery in the name of “respect” would have been an insult.

There is yet another new view on HS2, this time from the Commons transport committee. They say:

The cross-party committee said the risks of not going ahead with the scheme “significantly outweigh the risks of doing so”, and that serious thought should be given to building the second-phase section of the line – including the spur to Sheffield and Leeds – at the same time as the first phase London-to-Birmingham stretch.

Yes, quite: if the 2nd phase is not built at the same time as the first it probably won’t get built at all.

The lapdancing saga continues with a stay of execution for the clubs that were axed earlier on in the week and one of the owners fighting back in the courts. Really, the timing of this couldn’t have been worse – any closure of anything just before Christmas which involves job losses just gives the underdog another stick with which to beat the Man. Anyway.

Some school league tables have been published for Leeds and Wakefield, but it seems to show a growing “attainment gap” which needs to be addressed.

The Leeds Citizen told us last week about the possible expansion of the White Rose shopping centre, and now it has been approved in principle. The Citizen discusses the odd lack of objections at the meeting.

LCC wins points for an amusing advertising campaign for recycling, although oddly the accompanying picture is only on the main page.

Leeds Citizen has been rather busy this week, also talking about the shelving of plans ‘to introduce a tax on bars, pubs and clubs in Leeds to help pay for late-night policing’.

Leeds-List asks if the supermarkets are taking over, while on the Leeds Markets blog Rob Greenland, co-director of Leeds Empties, explains what he likes about our markets.

The voter registration deadline is fast approaching. Remember, if you don’t vote you don’t get the right to complain about the outcome!

There is an extravaganza of Christmas movies at Outlaws Yacht Club this Sunday, from midday, courtesy of Sneaky Cine.

And I leave you with cultural capital, South of the River.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend. We at BGL towers will be having a fun weekend as it’s the editor’s 40th birthday tomorrow. We’ll see you on Monday, hopefully hangover free. Cheerio!

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Leeds today: cuts, more cuts, bulk, education, mines, beer, buses, carols, film, theatre and twerking.

Hello Leeds! Wednesday, midweek, cold, crisp, faintly foggy. Let’s do some news!

More cuts to the local budget, so a 2% council tax rise being considered by LCC (for the record, for a band A house that’s about £7/yr, for Band D it’s about £26). The YEP reaction is worth a read as it takes a brief look at why this situation has come about (basically, Westminster). The Leeds Citizen’s view is also really worth a read as it looks at the headline cuts that are also going to be made in addition to a proposed hike, and you can bet that as TLC gets a better look at the proposals more interesting stuff will show up over there.

One of the cuts is in the bulky waste service that LCC provides; 12 times a year you can book a kerbside collection of things like sofas, beds, wardrobes and large electrical items like fridges and washing machines. However, this will be cut to three times a year, which seems pretty reasonable; if you’re changing your bed once a month perhaps something in your life needs to change.

Some bus services are at risk in some areas as local authorities cut the public subsidy to bus companies. A report was published this week – called “Buses in Crisis”, which doesn’t seem alarmist at all – that looks at how buses are funded. You know what would be a simple solution to this? Nationalise the bus companies. These things are not supposed to be piggy banks, they’re supposed to be a method of efficiently moving people from one place to another. Anyway.

There’s some business start-up workshops at libraries across Leeds. These really are useful for people unsure as to how you go about setting up your own business.

There’s some new funding for postgraduate study at the University of Leeds, focusing on taught courses – Masters, mostly – with the hope that many students will be able to secure PhD and MPhil places.

A former colliery in Pontefract is to be turned into a 900-home site with shops, a medical centre and new park. Spoil heaps will be landscaped and at some point a link road to the M62 could be built. This is great, but we really hope that jobs can also be found there otherwise it’s just going to be another estate.

We’re forever talking about the North-South divide, so take a look at this interesting survey from the Guardian about the price of beer across the country.

The new issue of The City Talking is now out, and here’s their See & Do list for this week:

Christmas music or carols? Take a look at this list from Leeds Inspired. If carols aren’t your thing then in the last of the Christmas films at the Town Hall, tonight is Singing in the Rain and two others – see p.19 of this PDF. That PDF has lots of Xmassy ideas at the Town Hall, and there’s a plethora of Christmas theatre offerings, including at the WYP, The Jungle Book, with a review from the Culture Vulture, and Raymond Briggs’s Father Christmas (!); Jack and the Beanstalk at the City Varieties, or an alternative version (with twerking?!) in Wakefield – review from the CV; and the ballet of Cinderella at the Grand Theatre.

Finally, there’s Bring the Happy at Leeds Town Hall, from Invisible Flock with Hope & Social. As that doesn’t quite explain what it is, here’s some detail from the CV.

And that’s us done for today! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you on Friday! Have a great week.

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Leeds today: storms, homes, cinema, shooting, tequila, lapdancing, liberty, space, walking and ping-pong.

Good morning! Hope that you all had a relaxing weekend and have recovered from the stresses of Christmas shopping (for anyone who, like me, managed to find themselves sucked into the throngs of Christmas shoppers in the city centre) and other festive activities.

Last Thursday we were brought the sad news of Nelson Mandela’s passing. Leeds has united with the rest of the globe in mourning the loss. Mandela was made an honorary freeman of the city during an official visit in 2001.

In the wake of the immense storms that swept through the city last week, Leeds Grand Mosque has been left with at least £60,000 in damages after the winds battered the structure. The main prayer hall has been closed until the repairs have been complete. The community has come together to offer their help.

Leeds citizens, ever involved in campaigns, are battling against proposed plans to build over a thousand new homes on the ‘countryside lung’ between Leeds and Bradford. Protesters have been writing to councilors to express concerns that the plans for 1,800 new homes will impact on the heritage of the countryside in the Tong and Fulneck Valley area.

Proposals for a new 12-screen cinema in the White Rose Shopping Centre, as well as four new restaurants and an extension to existing Primark and Debenhams, have been brought before planning chiefs. The plans are anticipated to create 1,000 jobs in the city.

A man has been arrested for shooting a policewoman in an “unprovoked attack” in the student area of Headingly. The police officer and a colleague were called to investigate noise disturbance on Cardigan Road when they were confronted by an armed man. The police officer’s injuries aren’t understood to be life-threatening.

In the wake of the Tequila scandal surrounding nightclub Mezz, the club has been closed down. Funnily enough, another nightclub (Halo, which is ironically a deconsecrated church) has picked up the Tequila night.

In a similar vein, the decision has been made by Leeds City Council not to renew the contracts of three adult entertainment venues due ‘to the number of building with sensitive uses nearby to the location of the premises’. Deep Blue, Red Leopard and Wildcats will all be closed. The owner of Wildcats is planning high court action later this week.

In further adult entertainment news, the banning of The Sun newspaper at Leeds University has sparked backlash by the Leeds Liberty League who support people have the option to buy the newspaper, and support giving women the freedom to work in the adult entertainment industry.

The Culture Vulture muses over why there’s a distinctive lack of good public spaces in Leeds to ‘sit, linger and just pass the time’.

Leeds-list brings us a visual insight into the Leeds and Liverpool canal, as it winds through the countryside and city alike.

I’m sure that now Christmas is just around the corner everyone is finding that there are too few hours in the day to pack everything in, but if you find yourself with a few spare hours or fancy doing something a bit different, here are some suggestions…

If you fancy a nice wintery stroll, where better to go than the rolling North York Moors just out of Leeds? Here are some of the highlights to see in the expanse of countryside.

Alternatively, if you feel like taking a trip to the suburbs and exploring somewhere new, then why not pay a visit to Horsforth? Plenty of history, bars, restaurants and pubs to enjoy, as well as pleasant walks nearby.

Here’s something for art lovers: Temple Newsam House and Estate are exhibiting a selection of prints made by Rembrandt. The current display showcases Rembrandt’s portraits and figure studies.

There’s a new bar to enjoy in Leeds: Roxy Ball Room, overlooking Boar Lane in the Peel Buildings. It combines what are apparently the best burgers with, yummy drinks with ping-pong and snooker.

Finally, if you’re still feeling stuck for things to do for New Year’s Eve, then never fear…Leeds-list is brimming full of suggestions!

And that’s about it for now, folks. Have a good rest-of-week!

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The monthly @chrisnickson2: The Greenest Place in Leeds.

As many of you know, Beyond Guardian Leeds is shutting the office door December 20, unless some kind soul wants to take it over. That means this will be the final Leeds history column there. But if there’s interest I’ll keep doing one on the first Friday of every month (ish) on my blog – www.chrisnickson.co.uk .

Right, that over, let’s go out with something about the greenest place in Leeds – Roundhay Park.

The history goes back to the late 11th century when William the Conqueror (aka the Bastard), gave the area, and more, to Ilbert de Lacy, for his part in decimating the North of England. It was a hunting park  of about three square miles for many centuries. Eventually, in 1803, the land was bought by Thomas Nicholson and Samuel Elam, who divided the land, Nicholson taking what would become the park. He built a house there, now the Mansion, and created the Upper and Waterloo lakes to cover coal mines. Reputedly, for the work on Waterloo Lake, he hired soldiers who’d been made unemployed after the Napoleonic wars. The plan was for a third lake, where the arena/cricket ground now stands, but he ran out of money.

Nicholson was also responsible for the famous folly. This was once roofed, and his daughters would take tea there in the summer; it also had a sewing room for them. The estate passed through the family until it was put up for sale in 1871.

At that time John Barran was mayor of Leeds. He’d made plenty of money in the cloth business, but didn’t have the £139,000 needed to purchase the land, even when he mortgaged his house. Others came in with him. Leeds did take it of their hands later that year, but needed an Act of Parliament to spend so much money. To help finance it all, the southern part of the park (stretching down to Oakwood) was sold off for development, but with strict regulation – the houses had to be made of stone and there could be no businesses.

Landscaping was undertaken, and the park was duly opened in 19th September, 1872 by Prince Arthur. The only thing missing on a regular basis was a crowd. It was too far from the centre of town, where most of Leeds’ population – certainly the working class – still lived, and the only transport out there was Shanks’s pony. The press had a field day, describing the purchase of the park as a huge white elephant.

For a while, they looked to be right. At least until the electric trams came along in the 1890s. They trundled out along Roundhay Road (the original tramway is now Princes Avenue) to the park terminus; today’s car park. Look up when you park your car and you can still see the poles for the trams. To see what Roundhay Park looked like in 1908, look here.

And with that, they really did come. A steam boat, the Mary Gordon, offered trips on the big lake until was replaced (legend has it that the boat is sunk at the deepest part of the water) and soon there’ll be another there.

These days over a million people a year come to the park. There are concerts at times, Tropical World and other attractions. It’s remained a vibrant place, changing with the times. But 141 years ago, John Barran was the real visionary who saw how things could be. Leeds owes him a huge debt.

Chris Nickson has been a total star over the last year, contributing many articles to BGL on the history of Leeds. He’s the author of the Richard Nottingham series of books based on a detective in 18th century Leeds, a brilliant gift for any book lover. We at BGL would like to thank him for all his hard work.

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Leeds today: Mandela, wind, housing, lapdancing, planes, sculpture, Wonderland, active, Questions, Scrooge and skins.

Hello Leeds! It’s Friday! Later on we’ve got the last Leeds Stories post from Chris, but in the meantime have some news.

Just in case you’ve not heard, Nelson Mandela died last night. RIP. Jeremy Morton gives his view on South of the River, and if you’re going to read one of the links on the subject, I’d heartily suggest this one. A lot of people on Twitter were mentioning hearing him speak when he came to Leeds in 2001. The Council has issued a statement and the YEP has an article too. Walking past Mandela Gardens this morning the editor spotted a bunch of roses had been left; one imagines that it won’t be by itself for long.

In case you were stuck in a basement all day, we were battered by high winds yesterday (video). The all-too-common sight of people desperately holding onto lamp-posts around Bridgewater Place has made it onto the front page of the Guardian website (see picture number 11). Fortunately the road was closed to traffic (not so fortunately resulting in terrible traffic jams at rush hour), this following the inquest into the death there in 2011; however, there will always be people who don’t know about it and try to walk that way, and it’s utterly petrifying. A real solution is needed, and pronto.

Our sympathies also go out to those affected by storm surges on the east coast and elsewhere last night. These are going to continue for the next 24 hours, apparently. Terrible.

The Chancellor gave his Autumn Statement yesterday, announcing “a billion pounds of loans to unblock large housing developments on sites in Manchester and Leeds and across the country”. That’s all that was said on the subject. I have no idea what this means, and nor does anyone else, it seems, as I can’t find an explanation in newspapers local or national. Do we have a significant blockage of housing developments? Perhaps it is linked to this viewpoint?

Bit of an odd one, this. The Council has refused to renew the licences of some of the city’s lapdancing clubs, owing to their locations near to buildings with “sensitive uses”. The Leeds Citizen was quick to announce it and the YEP followed.

I’m going to have an opinion now. Skip to the next paragraph if you wish. When my plans for world domination come to fruition, I’ll be banning lapdancing clubs outright… but I can’t help but suspect that there’s more to this. Those that will close are on The Headrow, where a rather important televised spectacle will take place next year. Admittedly (I had a look yesterday), the whole row of premises looks a bit seedy at the moment, with a betting shop, two lapdancing clubs and some tiny shops tucked away behind bus shelters, but what is going to move in instead? Shops are unlikely to thrive there, as it’s too far from the main retail area.

Anywho, that was all a bit deep for a Friday. What next?

A World War II plane, and a trip from the Mayor.

The Hepworth in Wakefield has welcomed its millionth visitor. Congratulations! They also had some Hepworth-inspired baking there from this year’s GBBO winner. Meanwhile, one of my favourite places, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, is getting a new exhibition in January.

An update on the future of the Bradford Odeon is available. Looks like community spirit is key here.

Instead of the Moroccan Market Briggate has sprouted a Winter Wonderland this morning (they tried to assemble it yesterday but were scuppered by the high winds). We told you about the market element of it last week, but now the Culture Vulture has the details of Opera North’s contribution. Leeds Inspired has a useful list of all the markets going on this Christmas.

Allotment holders are angry about price rises.

Can’t imagine it’ll be open before it’s really needed next year, but Leeds might be getting a third Hilton.

The Brownlee brothers will be opening the new Holt Park Active well-being centre on 9 December.

BBC Radio 4′s Any Questions? is to be recorded in Leeds next Friday, and tickets are available.

The Home Farm is going all Christmassy.

And if your Christmas just isn’t right without some Scrooge, quite apart from The Grand’s production (ends tomorrow), how about Acting Ebeneezer from the Theatre of the Dales (PDF), in the very suitable surroundings of The Leeds Library on Commercial Street? I’ve seen a few of their productions and they’re excellent.

A meeting is to be held to discuss if Leeds should bid to become the European Capital of Culture. You can reserve a place at the meeting here.

Finally, my own pet love, it’s Café Scientifique at Leeds City Museum this Sunday, from 11.30am. The subject is “Bird skin collections: not a freaky trophy but a valid scientific resource”.

Wow, what a lot of stuff! Anyway, have a great weekend, thanks for reading and we’ll see you Monday.

This article was amended slightly to reflect opinion.

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Leeds today: police, pop-ups, markets, rugby, bands, furniture, water, independence, Tetley and freelancers.

Hello! Wednesday! It occurred to me that time seems to be moving awfully quickly – there’s only about eight more BGL posts to go. Anyway.

Over on the Guardian the cry is Scotland, take us with you. I mean, really – London is like its own little country now and clearly nobody in Westminster gives the tiniest toss what happens in the regions (or “constituencies” as we like to call them), so why don’t we all claim to be part of Scottish territorial lands and just let the capital do its own thing without us?

The Guardian Northerner talks about The Tetley. We quite like it, although have yet to make it there for brekkie on a weekend.

Given how much money seems to have been wasted by some water companies on pipe plans (or “pipe dreams”, haha) Yorkshire Water is being brave in announcing a planned Leeds water pipe upgrade. Which affects 100 streets (ish) north of the river. Meanwhile, there’s going to be a rise in water prices in line with inflation instead of generating massively inflated profits by claiming “wholesale prices” or some such bobbins.

I had heard this on the grapevine, but haven’t seen it reported anywhere else. Leeds Metropolitan University’s new name has been properly approved.

Morley’s heritage needs a new, permanent home, according to the Morley Observer. Morley Heritage Centre has been homed in an empty shop since it opened earlier in the year but there’s been interest in the shop, so a new home must be found.

Previous objections to expansion at the White Rose centre appear to have been overcome, according to the Citizen.

If you run a social enterprise and need office furniture, sign up here. LCC may well be able to help link companies together.

The day I realised I was old: usually I at least recognise the headline band, but… who? Leeds Festival 2014 announces part of next year’s lineup.

The Rugby World Cup 2015 ticket prices are now known. Can’t quite get over how expensive seeing live sport is these days – it’s certainly more expensive than the theatre.

I spied the Elland Road police HQ development from the train the other day. It seems to be coming along nicely. As a consequence of their imminent move, therefore, Holbeck Police Station is up for sale.

Hepworth and Moore – new joint exhibition is coming up. Looks like fun!

Just Grand: Leeds-List review the vintage tearoom at Handpicked Hall. It’s not just me who’s getting a bit tired of all this twee gubbins, is it? Talking of Handpicked Hall, Leeds Trinity University are in support. On a similar note, a new pop-up space for independents is opening today: Lambert’s Yard. Anybody been? Anybody fancy letting us know what it’s like? Don’t say “twee”.

There have been various articles about the demise of German markets, so it’s interesting to see that Briggate will have a Winter Wonderland 17-day Christmas festival on 6-22 December, which looks rather more local and original. In fact, a recent survey from the Council for those taking part in their citizens’ panel asked for our opinions on the market and alternative ideas for Millennium Square pre-Christmas, so we may get something different next year…

There are numerous other events this week in The City Talking’s ‘Things to See and Do‘.

The twinkly lights are up, the tree is dressed. Now that we’re into December, the festive spirit is getting going, I feel. Leeds Inspired have a lovely list of xmassy doings, including music and film and theatre to warm your cockles.

If you feel you need to sing yourself, then the High Spirits choir is singing Christmas songs tonight at The Maven, 6.15-7.30pm. But, if a bit of singalong just doesn’t cut it, then hey, there’s always gin at the White Cloth Gallery.

Finally, for Leeds freelancers, you shall get a Christmas Party!

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you on Friday (with our final Chris Nickson story). Cheerio!

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Leeds today: traffic, water, trafficking, black Friday, library, brewery, debate, tunnels and green space.

Hello all! Hope that you all had a lovely and relaxing weekend. December has arrived, and we’re finally allowed to count down the days until Christmas. There’s plenty of news and goings-on to kick off the week.

To commence with a word of warning: this week is anticipated to be a hellish week of traffic jams and congestion. Motorway bosses have warned motorists to “plan ahead” over the next few days, as work at Armley Gyratory continues. It’s expected that disruption to travel is extremely likely.

Yorkshire Water has vowed to cancel a proposed above-inflation increase in rates next year and has agreed to keep water bills at a lower level until 2020. This means that next year the average Yorkshire bill will be £19 cheaper per annum than the national average.

The government has demanded a public inquiry into the new Leeds trolleybus scheme after it emerged that that the system could affect up to 3,000 properties. Transport chiefs had said previously that around 20 buildings would have to be knocked down to clear room for the trolleybus lines.

Police has confirmed that 17 people have been rescued from exploitation after a significant investigation into human trafficking in the Leeds area. Teams visited addresses in the south and west of Leeds from which men, women and children were rescued. Victims are reported to be mainly from Slovakia.

Last Friday was “Black Friday”- a concept imported from the U.S. and has taken the UK by storm. The shopping event, which sees some of the biggest high street names slash their prices in a bid to attract Christmas shoppers. Hundreds of customers waited outside Asda in Pudsey from 7am to make the most of the deals. The event is designed to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

The University of Leeds has received a huge £9million donation to support the construction of its new state-of-the-art library. The University had announced plans to raise £60m through donors, with the aim of helping “people from deprived backgrounds get to university and to support world-class research.”

The former Tetley brewery in Leeds has opened to the public as a new gallery. The launch of the new art space, appropriately named ‘The Tetley’, also contains a museum dedicated to the Brewery, which was shut in 2011 after 189 years of operation. The Culture Vulture gives us an insight into what’s going to be on offer.

South Leeds life covers the debate over Islamophobia that was held last week at the Hamara Centre in Beeston.

Leeds city council reports on the benefits that have been felt by communities after the distribution of over £22m over the past five years. The council covers the green space initiatives and measures to protect and preserve green areas amongst other community initiatives.

Leeds-list brings us a lovely pictorial account of the hidden tunnels of Leeds that you’d never even knew existed…

Although the Christmas period is usually an extremely busy one filled with various activities, if you’re at a loose end and fancy doing something festive, then be sure to take a look at these suggestions.

Leeds-list shares its weekly ideas for things to do “just out of Leeds”. This week the emphasis is on a more active vibe.

For the more curious types, if you’re keen to discover a forgotten part of Leeds’ history, then the first installment of a look at the city’s forgotten treasures in a must-read.

Finally, if the stress of the hectic Christmas period is all getting a bit too much, then here’s a guide on where to go for a quiet night out in Leeds, “when conversation takes precedence over all night partying.”

So that’s about it for now, folks. Have a good beginning to your week!

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