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Horsforth Urban District

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Title: Horsforth Urban District  
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Subject: West Yorkshire, Leeds City Council, County Borough of Leeds, Leeds, List of places in Leeds
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Horsforth Urban District

Coordinates: 53°50′03″N 1°38′34″W / 53.83413°N 1.64288°W / 53.83413; -1.64288


Town Street, Horsforth
West Yorkshire
Population 21,562 (2011)
OS grid reference SE236376
Civil parish Horsforth
Metropolitan borough City of Leeds
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LEEDS
Postcode district LS18
Dialling code 0113
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Pudsey
Leeds North West
List of places

Horsforth is a town and civil parish within the City of Leeds metropolitan borough, in West Yorkshire, England, lying to the north west of Leeds. Historically within the West Riding of Yorkshire, it has a population of 18,928.[1] Horsforth was considered to have the largest population of any village in the United Kingdom during the latter part of the 19th century. It became part of the City of Leeds metropolitan borough in 1974, and became a civil parish with town council in 1999.


Horsforth is first mentioned in manuscript in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Horseford, Horseforde, Hoseforde; but late-ninth-century coins with the legend ORSNA FORD and OHSNA FORD seem to have come from Horsforth. The name derives from Old English hors or, to judge from the coins, *horsa ('horse') in the genitive plural form horsa/horsna + ford 'ford', thus meaning 'horses' ford'.[2] This refers to a river crossing on the River Aire, probably used for the transport of woollen goods to and from Pudsey, Shipley and Bradford. The original ford was situated off Calverley Lane, but was replaced by a stone footbridge at the turn of the 19th century.

The three unnamed Saxon thegns that held the land at the Conquest gave way to the king and then lesser Norman nobles, but it was not long after this that most of the village came under the control of Kirkstall Abbey, a Cistercian house founded in 1152 on the bank of the River Aire downstream of Horsforth.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, Horsforth was partitioned and sold to five families, one was the Stanhopes who achieved supremacy and controlled the village for the next 300 years. The estate record of the Stanhopes is regarded as one of the most extensive and important collections of its kind, complementing the extensive mediaeval record associated with Kirkstall Abbey.

Until the mid 19th century, Horsforth was an agricultural community which expanded rapidly with the growth of the nearby industrial centre of Leeds. At Woodside was founded in about 1820 the tannery business of the Watson family, at the eastern edge of their small family farm, now memorialised by Tanhouse Hill Lane. The business transformed into a soap manufacturer which moved in 1861 to Whitehall Road in Leeds and under the chairmanship of Joseph Watson junior, created Baron Manton in 1922, as Joseph Watson & Sons Ltd, became the largest soap supplier to the NE of England, second in size nationally only to the Liverpool firm of Lever Brothers.[3] Industrially, Horsforth has a long history of producing high quality stone from its quarries. Not only did it supply Kirkstall Abbey with building materials and millstones in the medieval period, it provided the stone for Scarborough seafront and sent its prized sandstone from its Golden Bank Quarry as far afield as Egypt. Situated on Horsforth Beck (Oil Mill Beck) were a string of mills serving the textile trade, but a large area of the town still reflects its original function as an agricultural community.

Between 1861 and 1862, there was an outbreak of typhoid in Horsforth.[4]

In the late 19th century it achieved note as the village with the largest population in England. Railways, turnpike roads, tramways and the nearby canal made it a focus for almost all forms of public and commercial transport and sealed its fate as a dormitory suburb of Leeds. Despite its large population and extensive commercial activity this role appears to have stopped it achieving independent town status and it remained a village (as Horsforth Urban District) until its inclusion in the City of Leeds metropolitan district when this was created in 1974. However, in 1999 a parish council was created for the area, which then exercised its right to declare Horsforth a town.[5]

Horsforth Village Museum[6] has collections and displays that aim to illustrate aspects of life set against the backdrop of the changing role of the village.

During World War II the £241,000 required to build the corvette HMS Aubretia was raised entirely by the people of Horsforth. In 2000 the then US President Bill Clinton acknowledged Horsforth's contribution to the war effort in a letter sent to local MP Paul Truswell.[7] The letter now resides in the museum.



Horsforth railway station is on the Harrogate Line between Harrogate and Leeds City. The station lies just outside the Horsforth parish boundary, on the Cookridge side of Moseley Beck.

Newlay station, which was built as part of the Midland Railway, was renamed Newlay & Horsforth station in 1889. This station was situated south of the River Aire and was accessible from Horsforth on Pollard Lane (the road connecting Horsforth to Bramley).[8] The station, which was on the Airedale Line (Leeds-Shipley-Skipton), was renamed Newlay station in 1961. It closed on 22 March 1965, along with other stations on the Airedale Line: Armley Canal Road, Kirkstall, Calverley & Rodley and Apperley Bridge.


The town is served by First Leeds bus routes:


The nearest airport to Horsforth is Leeds Bradford International Airport, located in Yeadon


Leeds Trinity University (formerly Leeds Trinity University College) is now an independent university after a period as an accredited college of the University of Leeds. The residential campus is located off Brownberrie Lane, Horsforth.

The main secondary school is Horsforth School.[9]

Horsforth's state sector primary schools are West End Lane Primary School, St Margaret's Primary School, Newlaithes Primary School, Westbrook Lane Primary School, Broadgate Lane Primary School, St. Mary's Catholic Primary School and Featherbank Primary School.

Featherbank School opened in 1911 as a primary school, replacing the Grove Day School. The school's infant department was moved to the Grove Methodist Church on Stanhope Drive in 1933, but in 1960 transferred to the Featherbank School annexe. In 1972 Featherbank juniors (7–11 years) were allocated places at the newly built Newlaithes Junior School, at which point Featherbank became purely an infants' school (4–7 years).[10] In September 2011 Featherbank reverted to a full primary school.

There is also the independent primary school, Froebelian School (ages 3–11).


Horsforth is notable for having a large percentage of sandstone buildings sourced from local quarries, more than any other part of Leeds. A draft design statement[11] was produced in 2010, which summarises much of the architectural and historical character, to help when considering new planning applications.


The main churches in Horsforth are;

Pubs and bars

Horsforth has an ever increasing number of pubs and bars. Longstanding pubs in Horsforth include:

  • The Black Bull
  • The Bridge
  • Toby Carvery (formerly The Eleventh Earl)
  • The Fleece
  • The Fox and Hounds (although this is on the Cookridge side of Moseley Beck)
  • The Grey Horse
  • The Horsforth Hotel (despite its name it is not a hotel)
  • The Old Ball (previously called the Old Bull)
  • The Old King's Arms (Horsforth's oldest pub)
  • The Queen's Arms (though it did not become a pub until later in its history this pub has the oldest building)
  • The Ringway
  • The Woodside
  • The Sand Bar (previously a Take-away) is a popular wine bar
  • Town Street Tavern (previously an Off-License) serves wide range of traditional ales and is part of the Market Town Taverns group
  • Bar 62 is a sports bar
  • Bar 166 wine bar and restaurant
  • Medusa Bar and restaurant

and on New Road Side:

  • Enigma Bar (previously Suburban Style Bar)
  • Kobe (previously Fat Franco's) mainly a restaurant
  • Hartley's Fish and Chips (Previously Slaters)

A regular event in Horsforth is the 'Horsforth Mile' pub crawl.[24] This usually starts off at the Fox and Hounds next to the railway station, although this is regarded by many as being in Cookridge, so an alternative is to begin at the Old Ball, and meander through at least 10 pubs in the town.

The Scout and Guide hut

The Scout and Guide hut on New Road Side was requisitioned during the Second World War as an emergency mortuary for the factories based around what is now Leeds Bradford Airport (Yeadon Aerodrome at the time). It was never needed. Before purchase by the scouts and guides the building was used as a cafe, a popular stop off on the way out to Otley, Ilkey and the Dales.

Sports clubs and facilities

  • AFC Horsforth; Based at The Fleece Pub
  • AFC Horsforth Junior Club; Trinity and All Saints College.
  • Yarnbury Rugby Club
  • Horsforth Cricket Club[25]
  • Hall Park Cricket Club
  • Hall Park Cricket Club is also the home of Horsforth Harriers[26] running club
  • Horsforth Golf Club
  • Old Ball Football Pitches (Home of Horsforth St.Margarets FC)
  • Cragg Hill Football Pitches (Home of Horsforth St.Margarets FC)
  • The Rec FootballPitch (Home of Horsforth Ringway)
  • Horsorth School Astroturf (Owned by Horsforth School)
  • Horsforth School Football and Rugby Pitches (Owned by Horsforth School)

Notable people


Location grid


External links

  • Horsforth Today Online Newspaper
  • Horsforth school website
  • YEP Horsforth Today Community Website
  • Horsforth Town Council website
  • Horsforth Community website
  • Horsforth was in this parish
  • Lister Hill Baptist Church site
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