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Exploring the Community Led Suburb of Oakwood

By June 12, 2019 Features-Leeds

Situated the southernmost tip of Roundhay Park, the tiny suburb of Oakwood is a haven of eateries, indie shops and things to do.

An area steeped in history, Oakwood is where Louis Le Prince made the world’s first moving pictures with a single lens camera at Oakwood Hall, and where in 1914 Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, commissioned the Olympia Works, now a Tesco, to build aircraft. The spiritual centre of the area, the Oakwood clock was amazingly originally commissioned for Leeds Kirkgate market and moved to the leafy suburb in 1913. Now an iconic symbol, representing the threshold before entering Roundhay, it seems strange to think that it was almost lost to the community completely before its restoration in 2015.

Though smaller than its neighbour of Roundhay and less well known as a foodie destination than the likes of Chapel Allerton, Oakwood retains a unique selling point, a community led area with bars and restaurants worthy of a city centre spot alongside independent businesses built to thrive in the suburbs.

Two such businesses that comfortably straddle both those criteria is Preston Bar, the bit on the side of Leeds’ legendary North Bar, and Grön Kafe, the new ‘clean eating’ venture just next door. Perfect for after a stroll around Roundhay Park, Preston Bar a small, intimate bar with a vast selection of beers, a thoughtfully put together wine menu and tasty bar food. Grön Kafe, boasting a vegan menu from Leeds chef Matt Healy, of Matt Healy x The Foundry, takes its inspiration from Scandinavia and serves up breakfast, brunch and late afternoon plates that include soya yoghurt, vegetarian and vegan pancakes and daily smoothie bowls with fresh fruit and seeds. Also a relative newbie is Hessian, once again on the same parade as Preston Bar and Grön, which celebrates two years since opening. Created by Will Pugh, one of the co-founders of successful Yorkshire chain, Filmore & Union, Hessian is popular with locals due to its versatile menu that includes the ‘Full Hessian’ breakfast, right through to an evening menu created with both vegetarian and vegan customers in mind, as well as the odd steak or burger thrown in for good measure. New on the block will be Tobias Bar, an independent bar offering a selection of botanical gins, craft beers, premium spirits, champagne and select wines. After a successful first bar in Rothwell, the owners have decided to branch out, choosing 647 Roundhay Road for the venture. The Oakwood bar will be hosting live music and will be adding freshly prepared food to its offering.

The community spirit continued with the annual Oakwood Day in May, a fun-filled day of live music, street food, stalls and entertainment for all the family at Oakwood clock. Genesis Cheer and Mayne Allstar, competitive cheerleading groups from Leeds performed and led workshops on the day.

Oakwood Day is a venture organised by the brains behind Oakwood’s regular craft market which is held on the last Sunday of every month from 9.30am to 1pm at the clock, with stalls ready for you to browse the unique wares of local artisan traders. Oakwood Farmers Market, which takes please on the third Saturday of every month also encourages residents to purchase high quality produce such as jams, meats, eggs, chocolates, bread and wide range of locally grown fruits and vegetables that often is sourced less than 20 miles from the market. Organised by local residents in conjunction with Roundhay Environmental Action Project, the market also has FARMA accreditation, and is only the second farmers’ market in Leeds to have done so. Leeds bagel bakers Slow Rise Bagels are regular stall holders at the market and are highly recommended!

For three days until 2nd June, Oakwood enjoyed the arrival of Pub in the Park, TV chef’s Tom Kerridge’s touring festival of food, live music and Michelin-starred chefs, turning Roundhay Park into a pub garden like no other. Live acts such as Tom Odell, The Hoosiers, Basement Jaxx (DJ set), The Christians and Will Young will be performing while the nation’s prominent chefs, restaurants and pubs will be serving up their best work for visitors to try.

As well as Oakwood’s overwhelming focus on all things foodie (just how we like it!), independent businesses are continuing to crop up too. Jon Kinsey Hairdressing opened its new state-of-the-art salon in April, after 11 years of operations on Harrogate Road. It’s friendly team of hair stylists and colour specialists welcomed the community to its special open evening, ahead of its new era of serving Oakwood clients.