In the second of the new series, Simon Richardson visits the market town of Morley - home to a lively arts fest and Ernie Wise

Last month, I explored the many delights of Armley. This time out, it’s Morley’s turn. Granted, it’s a bit further out of the city centre than Armley, but its train station makes it equally as accessible. A traditional market town, Morley has a long history and has been home to the likes of wartime Prime Minster Herbert Asquith, Sir Titus Salt, author Helen Fielding and Ernie Wise – whose statue sits near Morley Pavilion (see top).

Like Armley, Morley was once famous for its textile industry, especially shoddy – that’s recycled wool. Crank Mills was one of Britain’s first steam-powered mills (the building itself is right next to the train station), and it was also a prominent mining town, although the Morley Mining Disaster at Caphouse Pit in 1872, which tragically claimed the lives of 34 men and boys, is often the most recalled mining event in the town.

Morley Town Hall
Wartime PM Herbert Henry Asquith opened Morley Town Hall in 1895

As Morley developed though, a lot of the older buildings were redeveloped or converted. These days, the town’s history is perhaps best represented by the Grade 1-listed Town Hall and the excellent covered market, which is one of the oldest in the country. If you’re into your music, the Town Hall runs several concerts throughout the year, showcasing local music. 

The jewel in Morley’s cultural crown though has to be the excellent Morley Arts Festival. Formerly the literature festival, this is a two-and-a-half-week celebration of the arts, with talks, crafts, performances and more. This year’s festival runs from 25th September – 12th October.

Where to Eat

Morley is absolutely teeming with food options for your night out. If meat is your priority, try Different Gravy and Grizzly’z upstairs. Baan Thai is a great option for South-East Asian curries and stir fries, while Cucina offers a range of pizzas, pasta and risotto for Italian, er, aficionados. There are also more chippies than you can shake a potato at, with Hillycroft and Miners Fisheries both being mentioned by my local sources. If you prefer to cook your own though, look no further than Bennetts Butchers for a fantastic selection of local meat.

Food Morley
Grizzly’z is big on meat

Where to Drink

As with most of Leeds (and the country in general), Morley is experiencing the full force of the craft revolution and Oscars evidence of this. Expect a range of cask and keg beers at excellent prices, with added freshness from the basement – home to the Frisky Bear brewery. There’s also Beer Thirty – a bottle shop and pour house with a heavy focus on northern craft beer.

If you’re more of an ale drinker though, check out the Needless Inn on Scotchman Lane; and you wouldn’t want to mis out on the Morley Cricket Club Beer Festival in March…

It’s not all beer in Morley though – Prospect on Queen Street has some great wine and Tipsy Cow offers a long list of cocktails, as well as a suitably beef-based food menu.

Beer Morley
Beer Thirty stocks plenty of northern brews
Cocktails Morley
Tipsy Cow offers a long list of cocktails

Where to Shop

For shopping, the pedestrianised area of the town centre offers your usual array of home improvement, clothing and furniture shops. But for sheer interest, value and a sense of locality, Morley Market takes the cake. You can spend hours in there unearthing all sorts – clothing from A & G Baig and fresh fruit and veg from Everyday Essentials – but there’s also electrics, a tattoo shop, a cobbler’s and even a fireplace shop. 

And, of course, the White Rose Centre lies just on the outskirts of Morley if you want a day of screaming at awkwardly parked cars, queuing for overpriced coffee in a massive, garishly lit box and having a full-blown existential crisis while surrounded by thousands of similarly stressed people.

Morley Market Books
There's loads to flick through at Morley Market

Other Stuff to Do

If you like a peaceful stroll, look no further than the Churwell Urban Woodlands and the accompanying railway. Flowers, wildlife and miniature ride-on trains for the kids make this a great afternoon out for all seasons. And speaking of kids, Junior Kitchen is a great way to introduce children to cooking.

If you like sport, then you could do a lot worse than joining the Maroon Army and taking in a game of rugby union at Morley RFC’s stadium on Scatcherd Lane. Running since 1878, the club is a union stalwart in a league area. In fact, the only reason they are a union club is because they missed the train to the infamous 1895 meeting at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, because they were still in the pub. It’s served them well though – they’ve appeared in two cup finals at Twickenham this season.

Of course, there’s always more to a suburb than an 800-word article can cover. So, why not let us know: what are your favourite places in the town? What have I missed that absolutely deserves a mention?

Morley Park
Churwell Urban Woodlands makes for a good stroll Pam's Place

More info:

Morley Arts Festival: 25th September – 12th October 2019

Different Gravy / Grizzly’z Bar & Grill, 131 Queen Street LS27 8HE, open Wednesday-Saturday 9:00am-11:30pm, Sundays 11am-11:30pm

Baan Thai, 51D Commercial Street LS27 8AG, open Tuesday-Sunday 6-10pm (10:30pm Fridays & Saturdays)

Cucina, 106A Queen Street LS27 9EB, open 7 days – see website for details

Hillycroft Fisheries, Bruntcliffe Lane LS27 9LP, open Monday-Saturday 11am-9pm

Miners Fisheries, 2A Clough Street LS27 8QZ, open Wednesday-Saturday – see website for details

Bennetts Butchers, 97 Queen Street LS27 8DW, open 7 days – see website for details

Morley Market, Queen Street LS27 8DS, open Monday-Saturday 9:00am-4:30pm

White Rose Centre, Dewsbury Road LS11 8LU, open 7 days – see website for details

Oscars Bar / Frisky Bear Brewing Company, 2A Queen Street, open 7 days – see website for details

Beer Thirty, City Mills, South Parade LS27 8QL, open Wednesday-Sunday 4:00pm-8:00pm (12:00pm Saturdays & Sundays)

Prospect, 1 Queen Street LS27 9DQ, open Wednesday-Sunday – see TripAdvisor for details

Tipsy Cow, Town End Works, Middleton Road LS27 8AP, open Tuesday-Sunday from 12pm

Churwell Woodland Railway, Westwood Side LS27 7UQ, open Saturday afternoons April to October

Junior Kitchen, 1D Albion Street LS27 8DT, open Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday 10am-6pm, prices vary – see website for details

Morley RFC, Scatcherd Lane LS27 0JJ