Later it was known as Wirkelay until about 1700. The manor, once situated on what is now Green Hill Lane, was owned by the Hopton family until the English Civil War and then afterwards by the Smyth family. Wortley was a weaving township independent of Leeds before it became industrial with coal pits, brickworks, railway yards and engine sheds – including a roundhouse, on Wellington Road. This Listed building, originally constructed to house a dozen or so steam locomotives, is now the premises of a major commercial vehicle hire company. In the 1880s, Wortley became incorporated into the expanding (then) town of Leeds.
Wortley is divided into three areas. New Wortley is the area closest to Leeds city centre, Armley and Holbeck; Lower Wortley is furthest from the city centre and close to Farnley, and Upper Wortley is situated between Armley and Lower Wortley.
Today, Lower Wortley has a major ‘cash and carry’ warehouse, as well as many car dealerships, including main dealers for brands such as Honda, Porsche, Ford and Mazda. These are popular in this area of the city due to the location of the Leeds Outer Ring Road that passes through Lower Wortley and connects with the M621 motorway.
History of Wortley LS12
Wortley grew, much like surrounding areas during the industrial revolution. While Wortley was home to some smaller industrial works, its proximity to the industrial centres of Armley and Holbeck encouraged gradual growth. Perhaps Wortley’s most notable features at this time were the vast array of railway junctions and its two gasworks, a smaller one in Lower Wortley and Leeds’ largest gasworks in New Wortley which is still marked by the presence of a large spiral guided gasholder.
The landscape of Wortley changed considerably following World War II, when both the Leeds Corporation and private developers redeveloped the Victorian slum areas which had characterised Wortley since it developed. New Wortley was largely developed through the building of social housing, mainly in the form of high rise flats and prefabricated houses. Despite being built opposite what was then a gas works and is now a storage facility, the prefabricated houses were built with ‘all-electric’ heating, as was common at the time. In 2009, as part of a fuel poverty scheme the homes were connected to gas.
Lower Wortley and Upper Wortley saw less development than New Wortley with many of their larger Victorian through terracing still remaining and the redevelopment largely being undertaken by private developers who favoured low rise developments using more traditional methods of construction.
Amenities in Wortley LS12
As Wortley is largely a residential area, with a fairly high population density, it has two high schools and two primary schools. Although it is close to Leeds city centre (and even closer to Armley, which offers a broader range of amenities than Wortley), there are still many parades of smaller local shops. There is a supermarket in Upper Wortley on Oldfield Lane operated by Netto, although this was originally an Asda store. There are about 12 pubs, and although there are no restaurants, there are numerous take-away establishments. There are no large supermarkets in the immediate area, the nearest are Morrisons in Hunslet and Tesco and Morrisons in Bramley.
There are three main parks, Wortley Recreation Ground is closest to the city centre, and offers surprisingly good views of surrounding areas, including the city centre. It includes a children’s playground, a skateboard park, three bowling greens and a number of pitches are marked out for football and rugby.
Cliffe Park and Western Flats Park form one large park, though they were once the grounds of separate mansions – Cliffe House and Western Flats House. The latter was demolished a long time ago, but in the 1930s the former was handed over to the then Leeds Education Committee and turned into a residential school for ‘difficult’ boys, though now it has been lying derelict for many years.
Schools in Wortley LS12
There are numerous junction schools in the Wortley area. Wortley has one high school, Wortley High School, which is in the process of merging with neighbouring West Leeds High School. The school, Swallow Hill Community College will be built on the West Leeds site.
While the merger was opposed by both schools in the initial stage, Leeds City Council stated the merger was necessary due to the falling birth rate in the area and the already small size of Wortley High School. Farnley Park High School also lies nearby, while further West, Crawshaw School is also close.
Landmarks in Wortley LS12
Perhaps the two most prominent structures in Wortley are the New Wortley gas holder (the largest in Leeds) situated on Welington Road adjacent to the Armley Gyratory and the Clyde Grange Flats situated off Tong Road which are the tallest buildings in the Wortley area.
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