'Living with Machines' in Leeds: finding stories with data science

How and why did machines change Leeds and surrounding areas in the 1800s? Researchers on Living with Machines have made different data science ‘lenses’ for looking at the past. We’ve taught computers to ‘read’ old newspapers, maps, census records and more. We’re building new ways of working with software to help understand how machines changed lives then – and now.

We show how machines changed what people did and how they lived. What traces can you still see around you today?

Leeds over time: as seen through a data science lens

We’ve gathered data from across our research project to help tell this story. Find out more about the code, datasets and research methods we’ve created.

Credits and thanks


Kalle Westerling and Mia Ridge

Living with Machines researchers and data

StopsGB data

Mariona Coll Ardanuy, Kaspar Beelen, Jon Lawrence, Katherine McDonough, Federico Nanni, Joshua Rhodes, Giorgia Tolfo, Daniel Wilson

MapReader–RailSpace data

Kaspar Beelen, Kasra Hossieni, Katherine McDonough, Daniel Wilson

Census occupations data

Joshua Rhodes, Guy Solomon

Wider Living with Machines Team

Claire Austin, Kaspar Beelen, Mariona Coll Ardanuy, Léllé Dermertzi, Luke Hare, Lucy Havens, Katherine McDonough, Federico Nanni, Nilo Pedrazzini, Andre Piza, Griffith Rees, Joshua Rhodes, Giorgia Tolfo, Daniel Van Strien, Kalle Westerling, Daniel Wilson

Principal investigator

Ruth Ahnert


David Beavan, Emma Griffin, Timothy Hobson, Jon Lawrence, Maja Maricevic, Barbara McGillivray, Mia Ridge, Alan Wilson

Past collaborators

Filipe Bento, Giovanni Colavizza, Joel Dearden, Adam Farquhar, Rosa Filgueira, Sarah Gibson, James Hetherington, Kasra Hosseini, Michael Jackson, Christina Last, Yann Ryan, Andy Smith, Olivia Vane

Additional sources

Charles Goad’s Fire Insurance Plans: The British Library
Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM 1851–1911): Schurer, K., Higgs, E., UK Data Service
Ordnance Survey maps: National Library of Scotland, the British Library
OS Open Roads: Ordnance Survey
StopsGB data: Original data from Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain: a Chronology by Michael Quick. Used with permission from The Railway and Canal Historical Society
UK Coal Mines: Northern Mines Research Society

The Living with Machines research project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) via UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund.This multidisciplinary collaboration is delivered by The Alan Turing Institute, the British Library, University of Cambridge, University of East Anglia, University of Exeter, King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London.

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