Three must see heritage pubs in Leeds
Whitelock’s First City Luncheon Bar
Finding Whitelock’s is a bit of a feat in itself, despite having the aid of an iphone satnav. We were standing where it said the pub was located but all we could see was a Northern Rock Building Society and a Carphone Warehouse. Then we saw a small sign and a dark passage.
It’s a great introduction to an amazing little pub, like discovering hidden treasure. In a narrow alleyway the long narrow pub lies lengthways, a low cottage like building, its decorative leaded windows spelling out ‘luncheon bar.’ The ‘Turks Head’ is sign written above the door, this was the original pub that stood here in 1715, virtually rebuilt and remodelled in the late 1800’s by the Whitelock family took it over in 1880.
Stepping inside on a rainy Saturday it was packed. Small half-cubicles along the outer wall are a few feet from the bar counter and form a corridor where drinkers weave by one another. In the gaps between jostling customers the ceramic tiles which decorate the front of the bar counter can be seen, some plain and others in deep relief, topped by a line of heavy scrolled ones, which support the copper counter top.
The staff are on a raised platform behind the bar, behind them more leaded glass, thought to be a 1920’s addition, lit from behind send out a coloured glow. At the far end is the dining room, spacious by comparison, more cubicles, big mirrors and leaded glass.
John Betjeman described Whitelock’s as ‘the very heart of Leeds’ which is obviously not just a geographical statement. Thankfully the heart is still beating and with care will continue to beat for generations to come.
The Adeplhi, just across the river from the city centre is a big, brassy place on a sweeping corner plot, where a lively young crowd come to enjoy the music, comedy, drinks and food. Despite some bold contemporary redecoration, the late Victorian - early Edwardian style of the place has not been lost.
Etched glass fills most of the exterior windows and the interior partitioning. In the hall lobby the eye-catching mosaic floor is still intact, attractive tiles and sturdy, curved joinery form the base of the dividing walls. Most of the doors leading from the lobby have etched glass panels denoting their function, ‘smoke room’ and ‘vaults.’
A smart and sturdy staircase leads to the old ballroom where most of the regular events are held. There’s a buzz at the Adelphi and as long as it is used and not abused, then those young regulars will look fondly on the place when they are old and perhaps will make sure it continues to give pleasure.
The Garden Gate
Magnificent is a fitting description for the Garden Gate. When Edward Wilson had his pub built he must have been pleased by the way it turned out. He would of course have no idea that it would be the only building in the area to survive a sweeping redevelopment seventy years later. It is thanks to local campaigners who fought to save the Garden Gate that it too wasn’t consigned to rubble. In the Campaign for Real Ales’ Yorkshires Real Heritage Pubs’ published in 2011, they call it the ‘jewel in the crown.’
The pub is laid out in a style found almost exclusively in north of England pubs, where a central hall lobby provides access to a number of rooms. Most of these rooms do not have their own bar counters, but customers use a hatch in the hall where drinks are served. It’s possible in the past waiter service was provided and therefore removing the need for a bar counter in each room.
"Garden Gate Vaults Bar"
Without doubt the Vaults Bar is the biggest and best ‘jewel;’ it is in prime position at the front of the pub. Most impressive is the large curved counter, entirely constructed of beautiful shaped tiles which sweep down to the intricate mosaic floor. A green glazed ceramic fire surround matches in colour but differs in style, the new modern straight lines of the early 20th century beginning to show.
If all this grandeur wasn’t enough, a bevelled mirror is inset on the chimney breast, drawing the eye to a foot deep decorative ceramic frieze which connects to a tile cornice. Most of the tiling is the work of local craftsmen, easily matching the work of the prolific London manufacturers.
"Garden Gate Cherub"
Unlike many London pubs of this type which have relatively plain facades compared with their ornate interiors, the Princess Louise for example, the Garden Gate has no such constraints. Not content with plain faience tiles, four fluted columns rise to ionic capitals, supporting a decorated frieze under a robust cornice. A cherub’s face above the door is flanked by ribbons and swags and above this an oriole window is held up by swirling acanthus leaves.
All three of these Leeds pubs are historically important and need protection. Join CAMRA
and put your support behind our pubs.
Paul Keating Feb 2011
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