History of Kirkstall
During the English Civil War, the bridge over the Aire at Kirkstall was blown up by Royalist troops from Leeds. After discovering this, a Parliamentary force led by Ferdinando Fairfax, 2nd Lord Fairfax of Cameron, from Otley, had to cross the river upstream at Apperley Bridge before retaking Leeds in January 1643.
Kirkstall was historically an important centre of industry. Kirkstall Forge lays claim to being the longest continually used industrial site in Britain founded in the 13th century by the Cistercian monks of the abbey, and a number of printers. The First World War brought about large scale growth, providing axles for military vehicles and by 1930 most lorries and buses made in the UK had a Kirkstall back axle casing.
Kirkstall is around 2 miles from the city centre and is close to the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University. Its main visitor attraction is Kirkstall Abbey. In the 12th century Cistercian monks founded Kirkstall Abbey, a daughter house of Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery set in grounds which are now a public park on the north bank of the River Aire. It was founded in approximately 1152 and took over 75 years to construct. It was closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of Henry VIII. The ruins have been painted by artists such as J. M. W. Turner and Thomas Girtin.
The Abbey House Museum opposite the abbey tells the story of the community and the town. Henry De Lacey, Baron of Pontefract, gave the land for the foundation of the abbey, and Kirkstall has a few roads named in his memory.
Amenities in Kirkstall
Today Kirkstall has a commercial park, Kirkstall Valley Retail Park, with several large department stores, a large supermarket, a leisure centre, a number of small restaurants, and small independent shops.
Kirkstall's amenities are mainly stretched along Kirkstall Road and Abbey Road. Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Complex has recently opened and includes many big brand concessions. The recent renovations to the area has improved its popularity in recent years and it now boasts a wealth of facilities and shops.
Kirkstall has a library and leisure centre on Kirkstall Lane which includes two swimming pools and a fitness centre with a varied activity programme.
Kirkstall Fisheries on Morris Lane is a renowned fish and chip shop, which is said to be haunted with a passage in the cellar leading down to Kirkstall Abbey.
For sports fans, Leeds Rugby Ground in Kirkstall is home to both Leeds Tykes and Rhinos.
And for hikers, multi-million pound improvements to the area include a walkway along the famous Liverpool-Leeds canal and the River Aire, both of which run through Kirkstall.
Entertaining and eating out in Kirkstall
Kirkstall has a very good range of eateries, ranging from small authentic independents and large chain restaurants. There are a range of take aways to be found scattered along Kirkstall Road too. There's also an array of traditional pubs too.
Cardigan Fields Leisure Centre, further along Kirkstall Road has a Vue cinema, restaurants, pub, nightclub, bowling alley as well as a Gym and Fitness Centre.
Housing in Kirkstall
Typically you will find Victorian terrace housing, but Kirkstall also has a good stock of semi-detached properties at affordable price. There are a selection of new-build apartments beginning to make an appearance also.
Kirkstall has a number of affordable house to rent in Leeds which means the area is becoming popular with students being close to the universities as well as young professionals, and buy-to-let investors.
There are some stunning detached properties towards the Abbey and these grand period residences own an uninterrupted view of Kirkstall Abbey with the Abbey gardens practically on their front doorstep.
Some of these substantial homes have been sub-divided into flats and make a great investment property in Leeds.
Around Headingley Station (which is actually in Kirkstall, not Headingley!!) there are a few more terraced streets including the quaint and cobbled Glebe Avenue, and a cluster of new-build apartments which are popular with commuters and young professionals looking for properties for sale in Leeds.
How to get to Kirkstall
Road - easily accessible from Leeds City Centre via Kirkstall Road (A65).
Train - Headingley train station has a twice hourly service into Leeds city centre (Harrogate line). This line also runs to York and Knaresborough.
Bus - First Metro Buses operate regular services between Leeds City Centre and Kirkstall Abbey and Kirkstall Retail Park (known on the bus route as Kirkstall Morrisons).
The major plus of living in Kirkstall is having access to Kirkstall Abbey and its gardens, with walks available by the canal and River paths there is a real open and green feel to Kirkstall.
Despite the open space property prices still remain reasonable and the many Victorian terrace houses lend themselves to students and young professionals with some sizeable semi-detached houses catering for families needs.
*Area guide images are from Wikipedia and can be used under the Creative Commons Licence.