The Library and Archive Collection
Hon. Librarians: John Townsend and Eveleigh Bradford
Important: Library Closure. The Thoresby Society library and archive will close at the end of February so that arrangements can be made for its transfer to its new home in the Leeds Library in Commercial Street, Leeds. It is hoped to reopen the library and archive in its new location by the end of 2015: please check the website here for further information. Meanwhile, members who have books on loan from the library are asked to return them to the library as soon as possible. While the library is closed, we regret that it will not be possible to deal with any enquiries relating to material in the library and archive collection or general enquiries on Leeds historical topics.
The Societys Library houses a unique collection of materials
concerned with the history of Leeds, built up over the 100 and more
years of the Societys existence. The collection includes books
and pamphlets, newspapers, maps and plans, pictures and photographs,
manuscripts and original documents. Various catalogues are available
to help members and visitors to find their way round the collection.
You will find more details of the Librarys collection below.
Location and Access
The Library is housed at Claremont, Clarendon Road, Leeds,
a historic house which is also the headquarters of the Yorkshire Archaeological
Society. The Thoresby Society Library is on the first floor, but there
is unfortunately no lift. Visitors for whom stairs present a problem
are advised to telephone before visiting to discuss what arrangements
can be made for access to materials.
Claremont is located at the southern end of Clarendon
Road, near Woodhouse Square, within walking distance of the city centre
and the rail station. Car parking space on site is very limited, and
street parking in the neighbourhood is restricted: if you are travelling
by car you are advised to use one of the city centre car parks. The
circular city centre bus service has a bus stop very close to Claremont
at Woodhouse Square [the stop after Park Lane College] www.wymetro.com
Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
As the Library is staffed by volunteers, there may be occasions when
it is not possible to open the Library as scheduled, so if you are
travelling from a distance, it is always advisable to write or ring
before planning a visit .
The telephone number is 0113 247 0704 and a message can be left if
the Library is not open.
Address 'Claremont', 23 Clarendon Road, Leeds, LS2 9NZ
to e-mail the library click the link Library
Borrowing Arrangements for Members
Members of the Society are entitled to borrow most books and pamphlets
in the collection for a period of up to three months. Some books however
are for reference only.
Arrangements for Non-Members
The Library is open to visitors and enquirers, who are welcome to
come to search the catalogues for material of interest to them. This
facility is free of charge. However, if access to books, maps, illustrated
materials or manuscripts is required, the Society, which is entirely
self-supporting, would be grateful for an appropriate donation.
Every effort will be made to respond to initial postal and email enquiries
about the collection, but it is unfortunately not possible for the
Society to pursue research on behalf of enquirers.
If members or enquirers wish to visit the library to undertake research, particularly on topics requiring access to the map or manuscript
collections, please write to make an appointment, giving as much detail as possible of your area of interest and the kind of material you
are looking for. This will help the staff in the Library to identify resources and have them available for you. All the Library staff are
volunteers: they will do their best to locate relevant material for you, but they cannot offer to undertake research on behalf of members
Limited photocopying facilities are available (there is a scale of
charges). However some books or documents may be too fragile to photocopy.
Library staff will advise on this.
More about the Collection
The book collection includes a wide range of nineteenth century and
later publications on aspects of the history of Leeds and its environs.
Reference books include street directories and poll books, a full
set of the Societys publications since its foundation, and transactions
of various other historical societies in neighbouring counties. (Note:
Stocks are held of many of the Societys past publications, and
these are available for purchase.)
There is a large collection of pamphlets, offprints of articles, and
ephemera concerned with Leeds, including music and theatre programmes
There is a large though not complete collection of Leeds newspapers
dating from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, some very fragile,
and some personal albums of newspaper cuttings (not indexed).
The print and photograph collection covers Leeds and neighbourhood, and includes some portraits. (Work is currently ongoing to conserve
and re-catalogue the collection.) There are also some donated albums of photographs. A selection of images from the Societys collection
can be viewed on the Leodis website.
There is an extensive collection of maps and plans, mainly dating
from the nineteenth century, some photocopies but mainly original
sheets. The estate plans are of special interest. There is also a
collection of Particulars of Sale from the early nineteenth century
onwards, many of which include detailed plans.
The Societys archive collection is unique: it includes some
personal diaries, original manuscripts and documents, deeds, and notes
collected in the course of various historical research projects undertaken
by members of the Society. These have been listed on the National
Archives A2A (Access to Archives) website, where they can be
If you are already a member of the Society, you are by definition
interested in the history of Leeds so if you have not yet visited
the Library, please come along to browse and make use of this unique
If you are not yet a member, you are nevertheless very welcome to visit the Library and see what the collection comprises. We hope you will
want to join us!