Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Previous section
The 2015 Leeds Boxing Day Floods

The Leeds Flood in 2015 : A Timeline

In the days just before Christmas in Leeds . . . 

  • Storm Eva is battering Cumbria (west coast of England) with winds of 80 miles an hour and very heavy rain.
  • Cumbria has lots of flooding and this starts to affect other places around it.

Colour photograph showing the railway line at Leeds submerged underwater.  The river runs by with just a narrow strip of vegetation in between.
Leeds Railway Line Flooded

Christmas Day 2015

  • The River Aire (normally has a height of 0.9m) records a record high of 2.95m at Crown Point.
  • In Armley the river rises to 4.61m during the night. Its normal level is only up to 2.65m.
  • The Environment Agency issues a red warning – its highest alert, which means “significant impacts to infrastructure and risk to life in the area”.

The shops on Kirkstall Road are underwater.

Photograph showing a wide road underwater, with a car half submerged in the street.
Flooded Roads in Leeds in 2015

Boxing Day 2015

  • The River Aire bursts its banks. 1000 homes are flooded and 400 businesses are underwater in the city centre, Kirkstall and Otley.
  • By 10.30pm 15000 people have no power & the train line in Kirkstall is under 1.2m of water.

The fire brigade carry out 40 rescues and answer 700, 999 calls.

  • 100 soldiers are sent to help the fire brigade.
  •  The worst hit areas are Kirkstall, Stourton & city centre along River Aire.
  • The Emergency Response chiefs say it’s the worst case of flooding for at least 70 years.

Colour photograph showing a major road underwater.  An upside down chair is floating in teh foreground.
Flooding in the Armley area of Leeds in 2015

Lots of people posted photos & videos of the floods online. Use the films listed in Supporting Links to explore personal stories of the flood.


Monday 28th December 2015

  • The rain has stopped and the water starts to subside (go back to normal).
  • The floods battered 3,355 properties in Leeds, 672 of which were businesses.

People start calling for better flood defences for Leeds so that it never happens again.


After the Floods

The Armley area of Leeds was very badly hit by the 2015 flood, including the Industrial Museum at Armley Mills.  In this video, Chris Sharpe, Assistant Curator at the museum, talks about the impact of the flood, on both the museum and the local community.

Local businesses were also badly affected.  In this video, Philip Marken from Open Source Arts talks about how the flood affected his business, and how he responded by setting up a volunteer space to help the local community get back on their feet.


What is being done to protect Leeds in the future?

Storm Eva Infographic


In this video, Tom Wright from the Canal and River Trust explains how floods happen, the impact of the 2015 flood in Leeds and what has been done to cut down the risk of flooding in the future.

Leeds City council said the direct cost to the city was an estimated £36.8million, and  the cost to the wider city region was more than £500million.

Judith Blake (Leader of Leeds City Council) said:

“The Christmas floods of 2015 caused devastation to communities and businesses in Leeds and across the region, but the response both immediately and in terms of the recovery which followed showed off the very best of our community spirit and a real teamwork approach by all agencies to help people get back on their feet.”

  • Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency start the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS).
  • Phase One of the FAS is to increase the protection against flooding from the River Aire and Holbeck for residents and businesses in the city centre, Woodlesford and Holbeck.
  • Part of the scheme includes building moveable weirs at Crown Point and Knostrop, a UK-first!
  • The Government has promised £35million to help protection in Leeds.

The Environment Agency has done a study on different options to reduce flood risk to the city centre and Kirkstall Road as part of phase two.


Phase Two

Concentrating on Kirkstall and areas beyond the city boundary to help stop the river overflowing in Leeds

  • Extra measures to protect the South Bank area of the city centre.  These are going to be a mix of ideas for “Natural Flood Management”, including planting trees and building a new 700m flood defence at Stourton.

The leader of the council said:

“We are delighted to open phase one of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme . . . which puts Leeds at the forefront of flood prevention measures using state-of-the-art technology”