8 of the Best Museums in Leeds

Jan 8, 2018

Leeds has a great selection of free museums to explore. From Henry VIII’s own suit of armour to amputations during the Victorian era. Next time you’re on the hunt for some history and culture, head to one of these handy museums in Leeds:

Thackray Medical Museum

Allegedly haunted and certainly eerie, this former hospital building has since become one of Leeds’ most visited attractions.

The Thackray Medical Museum is a grim look into the history of medicine. From life amongst the dirty streets of Victorian England to amputations before anaesthetic, Thackray is an engaging eye-opener into just how lucky we are with the old NHS.

141 Beckett St, Leeds LS9 7LN (thackraymedicalmuseum)

Leeds City Museum

Leeds’ humble City Museum has a varied collection and is one of the best-loved attractions in the city.

Learn the local history, or step further afield with exhibitions of ancient Egyptians and Romans.

The Museum is the home of the famous Leeds Tiger, a stuffed Bengal Tiger whose legend as a man-eater has grown to include 40 victims (SPOILER Alert: It didn’t actually eat anyone!)

Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 8BH (city-museum)
Leeds City Museum

The Royal Armouries

No museum list is going to be complete without Leeds’ Royal Armouries. The internationally famous docklands museum is one of the most popular attractions in the North of England.

There are over 8500 weapons of war on show, with artefacts from almost every era of human history.

Highlights include the personal armour of King Henry VIII and one of the world’s only surviving war elephant dress’.

If you fancy it, the Museum hosts two world-renowned jousting competitions a year, with competitors from all over flocking to Leeds to face each other in the tourney field.

Armouries Dr, Leeds LS10 1LT (royalarmouries)

Abbey House Museum

Experience life as a Victorian at Leeds’ Abbey House Museum.

Neighbouring the stunning Kirkstall Abbey, this museum has recreated Victorian-era streets, filled with old shops, pubs and a Sunday school building.

Each street is a wonderful experience, with costumed actors helping to transport you back to northern life in 19 century England.

Abbey Walk, Leeds LS5 3EH (abbey-house-museum)

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National Coal Mining Museum for England

Granted, you may have previously had coal down as pretty unexciting. However, that was before you stepped foot in the National Coal Mining Museum for England.

A short drive from central Leeds, in nearby Wakefield, the Museum is an eye-opening look into Britain’s fabled mining industry.

Head underground on a guided tour and experience miners’ working conditions for yourself and take a ride on the train that transported the workers around the site. 

Caphouse Colliery, New Rd, Overton WF4 4RH (ncm)

Middleton Railway Museum

Yorkshire is something of a hotbed for all things trains. Middleton Railway is one of the premier attractions.

This working museum can boast of being the oldest functioning rail line in the world.

Train enthusiasts rejoice, there are plenty of locomotives, from steam to electric, on show here.

Even if you don’t know your Mallard from your Class 31, just learning about the history of Leeds’ rail network is worth a look around, especially as entry is free.

Moor Rd, Hunslet, Leeds LS10 2JQ (middletonrailway)

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Horsforth Village Museum

The pretty suburb of Horsforth has a lot of history behind it. It was once the most populous village in the United Kingdom, in the latter part of the 19 century.

On top of that, the village was personally thanked by US President Bill Clinton in 2000 for raising funds to build HMS Aubretia during WWII. Ed Miliband lived here too.

With such a rich history, it’s only natural that this quiet corner of Leeds would have its own village museum dedicated to its own important place in the UK story.

5 The Green, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 5JB (horsforthvillage)

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Leeds Industrial Museum

Leeds was once one of the nation’s industrial capitals. Nowhere is that more apparent than at Armley Mills.

At one time, these were the biggest woollen mills in the world. Nowaways, they house Leeds’ Industrial Museum.

Step into Leeds’ long history and discover the industries that saw this city boom.

Canal Rd, Leeds LS12 2QF (armleymills)

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