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Kirkstall Abbey
Kirkstall is located in West Yorkshire
Kirkstall shown within West Yorkshire
Population 20,673 [1]
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LEEDS
Postcode district LS3, LS4, LS5
Dialling code 0113
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament
List of places
53°48′58″N 1°36′07″W / 53.816°N 1.602°W / 53.816; -1.602Coordinates: 53°48′58″N 1°36′07″W / 53.816°N 1.602°W / 53.816; -1.602

Kirkstall is a north-western suburb of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, on the eastern side of the River Aire. To the west is Bramley, to the east is Headingley, and to the north are Hawksworth and West Park. The population of the ward at the 2011 Census was 21,709.[2] Kirkstall is around 2 miles (3.2 km) from the city centre and is close to the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University. Its main visitor attraction is Kirkstall Abbey. Another landmark is St. Stephen's Church designed by the architect Robert Dennis Chantrell. Richard Oastler, a reformer and fighter for children's rights, is buried in a crypt under the church's east end.

In the 12th century Cistercian monks founded Kirkstall Abbey, a daughter house of Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. 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. The Abbey Light Railway, which connected the grounds of the abbey with the Bridge Road commercial area, was closed down in 2012.

The Kirkstall Festival is an annual event, held in the abbey grounds on the second Saturday in July since 1981. It is a festival of music, local arts and crafts, and is organised by volunteers of the KVCA (Kirkstall Valley Community Association).

Kirkstall is part of the Leeds West parliamentary constituency, whose MP is Rachel Reeves of the Labour Party, first elected in 2010.

Fred Asquith was a specialist[clarification needed] Yorkshire cricket wicketkeeper who was born in Kirkstall.


During the English Civil War, the bridge over the Aire at Kirkstall (referred to in a contemporaneous account as 'Churchstall') 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 earliest known activity on the site was a medieval mill race which supplied water to power the corn mill at Kirkstall Abbey. Iron production took place at the forge from the 1580s onwards. During the late 18th century the reconstruction of the upper and lower forges allowed 'shovel and spade production' to commence. A railway was built at the forge in 1830 and sustained growth at the plant. 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. In 2002 the owners of the site, the Dana Holding Corporation announced the closure of the works, shifting production to India and Spain.[3] The site is undergoing major redevelopment, as is the old Waide's Printers & Kwik Save site. Printing has, like iron-founding, suffered a decline, several printing companies remain.

Kirkstall Power Station

Until the late 1970s when it was closed, Kirkstall was dominated by a coal fired power station. It was replaced by larger power stations away from town at Ferrybridge, Eggborough and Drax. The power station was demolished in the early 1980s.

Kirkstall Abbey[edit]

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 about 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.

Kirkstall St Stephens' Primary School[edit]

Kirkstall St Stephens' Primary School can be found on Morris Lane.


Kirkstall Leisure Centre

Kirkstall's amenities are stretched along Kirkstall Road and Abbey Road. There are several pubs, a Morrisons supermarket and several other shops around it on the site of the former Waddingtons factory, including Matalan, Dunnes, Boots the Chemist, Specsavers, Halfords and the Carphone Warehouse. For many years Kirkstall had a department store, Clover; this was taken over by Allders and was then run by British Home Stores. This has now been demolished and the Kirkstall Bridge Shopping complex has been built in its place. This includes Home Bargains, Pets at home, M&S food and Outlet etc... . Most of the independent shops are spread along the A65. Kirkstall has a library and leisure centre on Kirkstall Lane and a fish and chip shop on Morris Lane (Kirkstall Fisheries) which is said to be haunted with a passage in the cellar leading down to Kirkstall Abbey now blocked off. A small shopping precinct is situated adjacent to the A65 and Kirkstall Lane has become dilapidated in recent years. The centre has an independent discount supermarket, a private members' club and a bookmakers. The post office, the library and a public house have closed. The site is owned by Tesco who have now put it up for sale through Savills UK after cancelling plans for a new store. For many years there was a 2nd hand book store but this closed in May 2016. There is a shop specialising in selling homebrew equipment, a beauty salon, a mobile phone repair lab and a pub The New George.[needs update].[4]


Kirkstall is situated on the A65 road which links it to Leeds city centre, Guiseley, Yeadon and Ilkley. There are two railway lines, the Bradford line passes along the Aire Valley and railway station at Kirkstall Forge which opened in June 2016. The Harrogate line passes near Kirkstall and Headingley station is a few minutes walk from the centre of Kirkstall. The former Leeds tramway ran through Kirkstall until it was dismantled in 1959, a substation used by the tramway is still visible on Abbey Road. There are many bus routes through Kirkstall. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal also passes through Kirkstall close to the river and its tow path provides walking, running and cycling routes to Leeds and also west to Rodley and Shipley.

Company Route Destinations
First 33 & 33A Leeds city centre, Horsforth, Rawdon, Guiseley, Yeadon, Menston, Otley
First 38 White Rose Centre, Wortley, Headingley, Gledhow
First 49 Monkswood Gate, Oakwood, St James' Hospital, Leeds city centre, Bramley
First 50 50A Seacroft, Harehills, St James' Hospital, Leeds city centre, Hawksworth, Horsforth
First 91 91A Pudsey, Bramley, Headingley, Meanwood, Chapeltown, Harehills, Halton Moor.
First 508 Leeds city centre, Thornbury, Odsal, Shelf, Halifax
First 670 Leeds city centre, Rodley, Greengates, Bradford.
Centrebus 757 Leeds city centre, Horsforth, Leeds Bradford International Airport.
Keighley & District 760 Leeds city centre, Rodley, West Yorkshire, Greengates, Thackley, Shipley, Saltaire, Bingley, Keighley.


Notable events[edit]

Abbeydale Oval. The house on the far left was extensively used in filming The Beiderbecke Affair.

The Kirkstall Brewery site was converted into a large hall of residence for students of Leeds Metropolitan University. Other developments in Kirkstall include the Morrisons shopping complex, off the A65 road, by the river.

Filming of The Beiderbecke Affair took place partly in Kirkstall, using houses around Abbeydale Oval with other scenes shot throughout the area and Moor Grange.

The Kirkstall Festival takes place every year in the grounds of the abbey.[7]


Equidistant from London and Edinburg (sic)
'Drink and be Grateful' fountain
St. Stephen's churchyard monuments

Kirkstall is rich in historic sites and monuments. St. Stephen's churchyard has fine 19th century grave markers. Other landmarks include an elegant early 19th century stone monument on the A65 road near the Kirkstall Forge site. A plaque on the monument indicates that Kirkstall is 200 miles from London and 200 miles from Edinburgh.

The re-located 19th century drinking fountain near the demolished police station at the junction of Abbey Road and Bradford Road proclaims 'Drink and be Grateful'. The fountain's little garden had been neglected for many a year until local community gardening group Kirkstall-in-Bloom made it their initial project in 2012.[8]

Location grid[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]