George Leeman was born in August 1809, the son of George Leeman, a greengrocer in the city. He trained as a solicitor before becoming involved with the railways, and he later became the Chairman of the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway. He followed George Hudson, whose financial irregularities Leeman had helped investigate.
Although Leeman was best known for his contribution to the railways, he was also a York Alderman for 28 years, was Lord Mayor three times and was also MP for the city from 1865 until 1868 and from 1871 until 1880. He was also a director of the York Herald.
Following his death a statue of Leeman was paid for by public subscription and placed outside the train station. It was designed by George Walker Milburn. Milburn was a wood carver initially before joining a company of piano manufacturers and then a London firm of sculptors before starting his own business. The statue of Leeman was unveiled on the 13th April 1885.
Following his death Station Road was renamed to Leeman Road, a name it retains today and now the location for the National Railway Museum.