Yorkshire - Economy


Yorkshire largely has a mixed economy. The City of Leeds is Yorkshire's largest city (see the list of English districts by population) and is the main centre of trade and commerce. Leeds is one of the UK's largest financial centres. Leeds' traditional industries have been mixed between the service-based industries as well as textile manufacturing and coal mining to the south and east of the city.

Sheffield traditionally has had heavy industrial manufacturing such as coal mining and the steel industry. Since the decline of such industries Sheffield has attracted tertiary and administrative businesses including a growing retail trade, particularly with the development of Meadowhall. However, while Sheffield's heavy industry has declined, the region has reinvented itself as a world renowned centre for specialist engineering. A cluster of hi-tech facilities including The Welding Institute and the Boeing partnered Advanced Materials Research Centre have all helped to raise the region's profile and to bring significant investment into Yorkshire.

Bradford, Halifax, Keighley and Huddersfield are traditional centres of wool milling. These have since declined, and in areas such as Bradford, Dewsbury and Keighley have suffered a decline in their local economy.

North Yorkshire has an established tourist industry with two national parks (Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire Moors National Park), Harrogate, York and Scarborough and such an industry is growing in Leeds. Kingston upon Hull is Yorkshire's largest port and has a large manufacturing base, its fishing industry has however declined somewhat in recent years. The North still has an agricultural backdrop, although this is much more diversified than once was the case, with tourism to help support local businesses. Harrogate and York both have small but strong legal and financial sectors. Harrogate is a major European conference and exhibition destination with both the Great Yorkshire Showground and Harrogate International Centre in the town.

Coal mining was prolific in the south of the county during the 19th century and for most of the 20th century, particularly around Barnsley and Wakefield. As late as the 1970s, the number of miners working in the area was still in six figures. However, the bulk of the industry was placed under threat on 6 March 1984 when the Conservative governed National Coal Board announced the closure of 20 pits nationwide (some of them in South Yorkshire) in a move which would result in the loss of some 20,000 jobs, a significant percentage of these being in the region as well. Three days later, miners in South Yorkshire went on strike and within a short time most of the rest of the country's miners had followed suit. Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield was picketed by striking miners on 29 May that year, with the subsequent clashes between miners and police resulting in 69 injuries and 81 arrests. On 15 June, a striking miner was killed in a clash at Kellingley Colliery near Pontefract. Several other coal pits in the area were also scene of violent clashes before the strike finally ended on 3 March 1985 after virtually a whole year. By March 2004, a mere three coalpits remained open in the area. Three years later, the only remaining coal pit in the region was Maltby Colliery near Rotherham.

Many large British companies are based in Yorkshire or were founded there. These include; Morrisons (Bradford), Asda (Leeds), Comet (Hull), Jet2.com (Leeds), Ronseal (Sheffield), Optare (Leeds), Wharfedale (Leeds), Plaxton (Scarborough), Little Chef (Sheffield), Halifax Bank (Halifax), Yorkshire Bank Leeds, Yorkshire Building Society Bradford, GHD (Leeds), Marks and Spencer (Leeds), Burtons (Leeds), Jaeger Ilkley, Magnet Kitchens (Keighley), McCains (Scarborough), First Direct (Leeds), Tetley's Brewery (Leeds), Timothy Taylor Brewery (Keighley), Bradford and Bingley (Bingley) and Skipton Building Society (Skipton).

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