Leeds’ Rich History

Offering a wide range of activities to suit all families, there is plenty to do and see in the city of Leeds for a fun-packed trip.

The Royal Armouries Museum holds part of the national collection of arms, armour and military equipment, and boasts five themed galleries to explore. From a full set of elephant armour, to Henry VIII’s own, it’s easy to see why this museum is so popular with children and families alike. What’s more, families can also watch history come to life with their regular live performances and combat displays. The Royal Armouries has all of the family friendly amenities to make your visit an easy one, and best of all, admission is free. Why not hop on the little yellow water taxi from Granary Wharf, just next to Leeds Train Station, to sail down to Leeds Dock? It’s only £2 per person per trip and is a fun way to travel.

For the history buffs amongst the family, visitors can explore Victorian Leeds by paying a visit to Abbey House Museum, and stroll down its recreated 19th Century street.  Featuring shops, pubs and furnished houses reflective of the Victorian era, visitors can truly immerse themselves in this historic experience. What’s more, The Childhood Galleries offer a slice of nostalgia for some, and a history lesson for others. With a collection of toys and games ranging from the 19th Century to the present day, it will spark lots of fun conversations about what your childhood favourites were, and how much has changed since then. It’s easily accessible by public transport, and at just £13 for a family ticket, it’s an affordable day out. Plus the café serves delicious food, and the beautiful grounds of Kirkstall Abbey, just over the road, make the perfect spot to have a picnic.

Thackray Museum of Medicine is welcoming visitors back after a multi-million-pound redevelopment. Find out more about the history of healthcare in Britain, learn about medical interventions that have changed the way we live, or, for the slightly gruesome, you can wander down the grimy streets of Victorian Leeds and see a gory 19th Century operating theatre.

If you’re looking to learn about the history of the city during your visit, you’ll find out all there is to know at Leeds City Museum. The popular Life On Earth gallery showcases everything from minibeasts to dinosaurs, and not forgetting our famous tiger, whilst the Story of Leeds gallery sits on the second floor, including the history of Leeds’ cultural links to Asia. On the third floor, you’ll enter the wider ancient world and meet Nesyamun, the museum’s resident 3000 year old mummy. Located right in the heart of the city, and completely free, Leeds City Museum makes a wonderful visit for all the family.

Future train driver in your midst? A visit to Middleton Railway, the oldest working railway in the world, is a must! All aboard the steam train for a trip through time. Trains run every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday as well as on Wednesdays in​ school holidays.

More steam machines can be discovered at Leeds Industrial Museum, along with the Tailoring Gallery where you can find out how Leeds helped to launch high street fashion, and Media in the Mill, celebrating the creative industries in Leeds. There’s even a cosy 24 seat cinema too.

Tucked away on an island just outside the city centre is Thwaite Watermill, one of the last remaining examples of a water-powered mill in Britain. Step back in time and discover what life was like at Thwaite House, a Georgian Grade II listed building packed full of vintage treasures. Situated in stunning riverside surroundings which are home to many local species from plant life to mini mammals. See how many you can spot by following the nature trail, taking a stroll along the canal and stopping off to enjoy a picturesque picnic.