Leeds Wakefield Train
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The city of Leeds is located in West Yorkshire and is considered by many to be the cultural, financial and commercial centre of West Yorkshire. Historically, Leeds was located in the West Riding of Yorkshire and has grown from a small market town in the valley of the River Aire to become a large urban centre by the middle of the 20th century. During the Industrial Revolution Leeds transformed itself into a major industrial centre which was dominated by the wool and flax industries along with iron foundries and printing.
Leeds has three universities and as a result has one of the largest student populations in the UK. It is also second largest legal centre in the United Kingdom, after London. Leeds has extensive shopping opportunities for visitors including the indoor shopping centres of the Merrion Centre, St. John's Centre, The Core, the Victoria Quarter, The Light, the Corn Exchange and Trinity Leeds.
Leeds is home to the Grand Theatre where Opera North is based. The theatre has 1,500 seats and has recently undergone a £31.5m refurbishment. The City Varieties Music Hall, which hosted performances by Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini and was also the venue of the BBC television programme The Good Old Days, and West Yorkshire Playhouse. Just south of Leeds Bridge once stood The Theatre which hosted Sarah Siddons and Ching Lau Lauro in 1786 and 1834 respectively.
The West Yorkshire city of Wakefield is located at the edge of The Pennines and lies on the River Calder. In May 2011 The Hepworth Wakefield gallery opened on the south bank of the River Calder near Wakefield Bridge. The gallery displays work by local artists Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore along with other British and international artists. The gallery is thought to be the largest purpose-built gallery to open in the United Kingdom since 1968. The city's three parks date back to the 1890's when Clarence Park opened on land near Lawe Hill. The neighbouring Holmefield Estate was then purchased in 1919 and followed shortly after by Thornes House in 1924. The Clarence Park Music Festival is held annually and focuses on promoting local bands.
Wakefield is known as the capital of the Rhubarb Triangle, an area notable for growing early forced rhubarb. In July 2005 a sculpture was erected to celebrate this facet of Wakefield, and there is an annual 'Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb" which takes place over the last weekend in February.
The National Coal Mining Museum for England, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Nostell Priory are within the Wakefield metropolitan area, as is Walton Hall, a Georgian mansion set in what was the world's first nature reserve, created by the explorer Charles Waterton.