UK: Regional focus - Blooming Leeds.

UK: Regional focus - Blooming Leeds. - From tanks to tacks, railway axles to rhubarb, Leeds' strength is the diversity of its economy. By Martin Wainwright.

From tanks to tacks, railway axles to rhubarb, Leeds' strength is the diversity of its economy. By Martin Wainwright.

For all its noble town hall, topped with a pillared cupola and guarded by crouching lions, Leeds has a Yorkshire aversion to letting outsiders know when all is thoroughly well. Caution is the middle name of the Leeds man or woman, and it masks a long story of steady, comfortable success. But recently this reticence has been wavering in the face of good fortune so obvious, and so highlighted by recession and decline among neighbours, that modesty began to appear perverse.

The NHS is moving its headquarters to Leeds; students voted Leeds University the most popular in the country; and the city's new West Yorkshire Playhouse and Opera North have established a cultural excellence akin to 19th century Manchester's. Manchester? Where is Manchester now, ask the brasher "Loiners" (the term for Leeds natives, coined from their alleged habit of loitering at lane-ends - loins in dialect for a gossip)?

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