Nestled at the foot of Roundhay Park, Oakwood is a leafy and bustling neighbourhood coveted by its close-knit community and eclectic array of business services, hospitality and retail.
Originally owned by the greater Roundhay estate, Oakwood’s beginnings date as far back as the early 1820s, when the area steadily began to emerge from the Leeds Rural District and grow into an independent and thriving suburb. Taking its name from Oakwood House, the neighbourhood’s stately home, built approximately in 1847, now stands as a residential nursing home within the Oakwood Grange estate.
Celebrating proud roots in the world of cinema, Oakwood House also served as the filming location for the 1888 silent motion picture, Roundhay Garden Scene. This brief picture, made by the early camera innovator, Louis Le Prince, is believed to be one of the oldest surviving films in existence. Film lovers may remember the Clock Cinema down the road which closed in February 1976, and today can continue to honour Oakwood’s cinematic heritage with a visit to Oakwood Cinema on Fitzroy Drive, managed by local volunteers to showcase independent releases.
Oakwood is a popular and affordable location for families to live, according to estate agents Rightmove, Oakwood’s average property value is £266,155 as of February 2022, still significantly cheaper than its close neighbours, Chapel Allerton and Roundhay. As one of North Leeds’s leafiest neighbourhoods, families also take advantage of Oakwood’s location as the gateway to Roundhay Park. Boasting over 700 acres of parkland, lakes, and woodland, the park will continue to host this year’s North Leeds Food Festival taking place in May, and the Leeds Triathlon in June.
Slightly wilder and tucked away from the crowds, the historic Gipton Wood is another Oakwood green getaway, with community group Friends of Gipton Wood organising daily walks and volunteering projects with local residents to spot the remains of Roman settlements and preserve the ancient woodland.
Standing tall at the southern tip of Roundhay Park, Oakwood’s clock tower is perhaps the suburb’s most recognisable feature. Originally built in 1904, the Grade II listed clock was first used as the centrepiece for the city centre’s Kirkgate Market, before moving to Oakwood in 1913. Still chiming after 100 years as the main meeting spot for Oakwood residents, the clock tower was treated to a full restoration in early 2015 with community-raised funds.
The clock tower is also home to the Oakwood Farmers’ Market, a staple event organised by locals and the Roundhay Environmental Action Project. With nothing travelling more than 20 miles to get there, the market provides quality organic produce and a wide range of locally grown fruit and vegetables. Held on the third Saturday of the month, the next markets will open on 16th April and 21st May.
Just across the road from the clock tower is The Fish Bar, one of Oakwood’s oldest shops. Serving fish and chips since 1934, the shop front’s art deco design has turned the heads of visitors as they make their way down the length of Oakwood Parade, a high street lined with a vibrant mixture of independent restaurants, antique shops, and cosy bars.
Creative types meanwhile can hop into Jackrabbits Pottery to flex their ceramic making skills, with pottery painting sessions and evening classes available for both children and adults. With everything from mugs, plates, and teapots to choose from, the finished pieces are glazed and fired by staff for you to take home.
Ushering in new businesses, the area has attracted the attention of Chapel Allerton’s House of Koko, which opened its second coffee shop last month for customers to sample a quality coffee during the day or a cheeky cocktail in the evening. Punjabi Heaven also opened this spring to bring the best of Indian street food to Oakwood, serving aromatic starters and mains from okra fries and samosa chaat to the trademark dal makhana.
For all animal lovers, a visit to Woof which opened in 2021 will suit all pet needs. The independent, family-run pet shop provides ethically sourced food, toys, and clothes for customer’s beloved cats and dogs with limited edition gifts from local brands also on offer for all human visitors.
Tucked away from the bustling high street, home-based business The Cakorator has also recently popped up on Copgrove Road to widespread word-of-mouth attention. Providing bespoke cakes and brownies with intricate designs and delicious ingredients, the bakery caters for everyone’s individual celebrations.
A friendly and charming pocket of North Leeds, Oakwood welcomes newcomers and regulars alike with a traditional community spirit, letting visitors enjoy the unique attractions on offer and explore its hidden quirks and charms along the way.