Shortlist symbol Add to shortlist button.

Victorian Leeds provides a stunning backdrop to a bustling independent shopping destination

Standing proud amongst the vibrant shops, cafés, restaurants and bars of the high street is Leeds Corn Exchange, a breathtaking Grade I listed oval building, now home to some of Leeds’s finest independent boutiques and cafes.

Located in the heart of historic Leeds, alongside Kirkgate - the city’s oldest street - Leeds Corn Exchange has been a magnet for visitors for more than 150 years. Designed by world-renowned architect from Hull, Cuthbert Brodrick, the building opened in 1863 and operated as a traditional Corn Exchange until the early 1990s. Today Leeds Corn Exchange has come full circle and is once again a thriving retail hub, with around 30 independent designer-makers, specialist retailers and foodie outlets now trading beneath the stunning domed roof. A treasure trove of original, modern finds, Leeds Corn Exchange regularly hosts events and fairs, specialising in vinyl, quality crafts, vintage, food and drink.

Leeds Corn Exchange exterior. (c) Leeds Corn Exchange

In Victorian times, Leeds Corn Exchange was at the heart of the city’s trade and industry and today it is home to some of the most highly-skilled craftsmen and women in Leeds. Jeweller Dion Smith is a cut above the average jeweller, and has over ten years’ expert training and experience within the jewellery trade. A short walk up the spiral staircase finds Lou Lou Puchalka, an award winning designer who specialises in millinery, hair pieces and bridal accessories. Leeds Corn Exchange also caters to the creatives of Leeds, with specialists Leeds Drum Centre, Northern Acoustics for guitars and vintage camera experts West Yorkshire Cameras all located on the balcony level below the beautiful, striking roof.

Throughout the late 19th century, the building was a bustling centre for the exchange and sale of corn, wheat, barley, hops, cake and flour and also was host to a farmers’ market and regular leather fair.

Bryony Brownhill, Little Leeds Beer House. Credit Simon Dewhurst

Neighbouring Kirkgate Market, Leeds Corn Exchange played a pivotal role in the day to day life of Victorian Leeds. Since re-opening in 2008, Leeds Corn Exchange is now home to some of the most popular independent food outlets in the city. Primo’s Gourmet Hotdogs, an award-winning diner, is across the concourse from Vanilla One café, run by Fiona Julian, Nick’s mum. Leeds Corn Exchange is also home to award-winning and rapidly expanding Humpit Hummus, Yorkshire’s first dedicated hummus & pita bar. On the balcony level is the city’s best kept secret ale house Little Leeds Beer House, which stocks the best selection of British beers, along with spirits and wines from all over the globe.

The regular fairs nowadays may not sell corn but they are a popular addition to the Corn Exchange which hosts Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, the Reetsweet Craft fair and several record fairs on a monthly basis.

With around 30 boutique shops, cafés, and health & beauty salons, Leeds Corn Exchange has transformed into a modern retail destination with a nod to its Victorian heritage, and has firmly made its mark as the home of independent shopping in Leeds.

Leeds Corn Exchange interior. Credit Simon Dewhurst