Leeds Central Library

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Leeds Central Library holds archive, local studies and family history information for the Leeds City Council area. The relevant part is the Local Studies collection.

Authority Leeds City Council
Location Central Library, Calverley Street, Leeds. See map
Membership/ID None required
Photocopy policy Permissive; pay-per-copy
Camera policy Not known

What is held here

The Library is the main resource for the City Council's archives and documents. As well as anything archived by Leeds City Council itself, the Library also holds some (but not all) documents deposited by its predecessor, the West Yorkshire County Council, and before that by the City of Leeds Corporation.

In terms of road research, it has extensive information on roads as-built, including an incredible set of diagrams of the Outer Ring Road from early in the twentieth century. It also holds information on some road schemes proposed in the Leeds area but not built. There are exceptions to this.

How to use it

Enter the Library and follow the signs to Local Studies, upstairs and at the back of the building. (Enjoy the marvellous architecture as you get there.) You will not need to register in order to use the facilities, but you may be asked to sign in a visitor's book. Bags and coats must be placed in a locker and may be briefly checked by staff first.

The main desk is a good starting place as the staff have access to a computerised catalogue of the collection and can quickly search for anything you may be interested in. However this is not a complete catalogue (or, if it is, the search facility is not very powerful) and much more information can be found using the card index system which is extensive and well maintained.

Looking up "roads" in the card index will involve wading through a hundred or more entries from the nineteenth century about street maintenance and turnpike investment, but while the cards are mostly chronological and the twentieth century items are behind these, it is worth working through the older cards anyway as some modern items are occasionally buried among them.

Items are requested by completing small slips of paper with item number, title, and your name and address. Most items have to be retrieved from a back room. When items are requested it is not unusual for staff to bring interesting-looking items that were filed nearby or with similar names. Retrieval time is normally very fast.

The local history library room is across the corridor - probably labelled as family history - but contains several interesting shelves of books, which are worth a look as there are some of interest.

Items found here

  • Details and route options for Pudsey-Dishforth motorway scheme
  • Full early-1980s blueprint plans for M1-A1 link road, showing all-purpose route along roughly the line of what is now the M1 extension
  • Leeds Inner Ring Road plans and ephemera
  • Scheme to upgrade the A660 radial route, including a length of S5 tidal flow
  • Cancelled A6120 grade-separation scheme from early 1990s

Nearby facilities