The Society makes grants both to individuals and to organisations in support of cultural and scientific activities which increase innovation, outreach and diversity in Leeds and its immediate area. It also supports local museums and galleries and publications relating to the city.

About the Society

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, founded in 1819, is a charity that promotes interest in science, literature and the arts – in the city of Leeds and beyond. We have meetings, lectures, entertainments, publications and visits.

The lost houses of Hunslet – progress at any price? 

The quest to rediscover the heritage of a Leeds township – with local historian Steve Burt author of ‘The remarkable story of Hunslet’, 2022

The out-township of Hunslet grew from a small agricultural hamlet to become an area where a few families became remarkably rich – first on cloth making and trade and later in a range of heavy steam-powered industries.

Impressive houses were built on the proceeds from trade and industry, often adjacent to the family business premises. It was the mid-nineteenth century before prosperous families moved away to pleasanter, more exclusive areas. In a period of strong demand for land and premises, their former homes were often converted or redeveloped. Others were demolished in the mid-twentieth century. The priority by then was rehousing of the population of one of the most unhealthy parts of the city, expanding the road network and cleaning up the environment. Fine houses of previous ages, blackened and unappreciated, were swept away.

In the process of researching his book on Hunslet, Steve Burt unearthed remarkable evidence of these lost houses. More has come to light since the book was published. Learn about the sources of documents and images and what they reveal about the economic role and lifestyle of the richer households of Hunslet.

Steven Burt – seen here at West Yorkshire Archives – was born and bred in Leeds and has extensive experience of communicating his enthusiasm for history and heritage through teaching, lecturing, leading guided tours, research, writing and broadcasting.

His lifelong interest in the history of Leeds was recognised in 2008 when he became a finalist in Leeds Civic Trust’s Spirit of Leeds Award. In 2010 his contribution to education was formally acknowledged when he received an Honorary Doctorate of Education from Leeds Metropolitan University.

The book on Hunslet is his latest collaboration with Kevin Grady. Their publications over the decades include the now classic work, The Illustrated History of Leeds, first published in 1994.

Steve is former Museum Director of the Royal Armouries and Area Manager for Education Leeds.

He was instrumental in setting up what is now the Thackray Museum of Medicine and served as Chair of Thackray Medical Research Trust until 2019. He is Vice-President of the Thoresby Society, was a Director of Leeds Sustainable Development Group and also a Visiting Professor of History at the University of Huddersfield. He remains a trustee of the Paul Thackray Heritage Foundation.

Having published the history of Hunslet he is moving on to other ‘out townships’ – Little Woodhouse and Chapel Allerton.

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