Leeds Libraries Heritage Trail

The Leeds Libraries heritage trail uses a mixture of photographs, newscuttings and anecdotes from staff and customers to tell the history of the branch libraries. Use the tabs on the Leeds Libraries Heritage Trail menu above (under the History of Leeds Libraries tab) to find individual libraries, or start here with the introduction.

The Adoption of The Public Libraries Act in Leeds in 1868 was the start of something great for the city of Leeds. In 1870 James Yates was appointed as our first Chief Librarian followed by branches opening in the Hunslet Mechanics Institute on the 10th October, and the Holbeck & new Wortley Zion School, Whitehall Road on the 15th October.

no.214 Hunslet Road, The Mechanics Institute home to Leeds Free Library

“The Library stock is new, and comparatively clean; but in a very short time a bloom will grow upon it, in spite of the vigilance used to detect grimy readers, and must be debited to ordinary wear and tear..” 1870 Librarians, before their time.

 Premises of British Paints Ltd formerly the Zion School on Whitehall Road and home to the first Holbeck and New Wortley Library