As Leeds’ centre has evolved over the years into an attractive modern metropolis, it has importantly retained its unique character. History and tradition is evident in buildings and businesses across the city, and nowhere is this more noticeable than at the pub.
Amongst the many bars which make Leeds a great night out are some traditional pubs that have been serving the city for centuries. We take a look at the rich past and the revived present of these historic Leeds locals…
Whitelock’s Ale House
Widely accepted as Leeds’ oldest pub at over 300 years, Whitelock’s Ale House dates back to 1715. Initially called The Turk’s Head, it was taken over by the Whitelock family in the 1880s and has been a favourite Leeds institution ever since. The current owners revived the pub when taking over a decade ago, restoring original features and traditional charm, and adding a huge choice of local craft beers and a quality home cooked food menu. Whitelock’s is a perfect piece of Leeds history, and is as attractive to visit today as it ever was.
The Pack Horse
Laying its own claim as the oldest pub in the city, with records suggesting a 17th century site, albeit one which didn’t last. Veering off the same central street, Briggate, and into its own courtyard, where drinkers sit indoors and out amongst historic surroundings. As well as celebrating its past, The Pack Horse cater for the present and look to the future, with sports screens and shot offers mixing the traditional with the modern.
The Ship Inn
Staying in the adjacent pub-filled alleyways, The Angel Inn and The Ship Inn live opposite one another, and both provide a proper pub atmosphere. The former attracts all ages for the value Sam Smith’s beer in a traditional setting, but it’s the latter which was here first, going back to the 1750s when it was called The Ship and Griffin. In the 21st century it remains an inviting and unpretentious city local.
Built in 1901, The Adelphi’s standout architecture and distinctive interior remain impressive beyond the century. The grand Victorian building and ornate design, with original tiling and etched glasswork, still stands strong and the pub still serves handsomely. A central bar loops within multi-rooms, in which to cosy down with a pint and perhaps a pie from a pleasing choice of beers and great pub grub.
The Cross Keys
Opened at the start of the 19th century, The Cross Keys was a local for workers and notable engineers on the south side of the city centre. Like the south bank area itself, the pub has been recently revived, smartening up without losing its sense of history and traditional character. Instead, after being abandoned during the 1980s, the current gastropub is a warm and welcoming part of the community.
The Duck & Drake
Although The Duck & Drake has only existed under its current moniker since 1985, it is thought that a pub has been on this site for 200 years. In a visible Victorian building, original features are still in tact and The Duck & Drake is the very essence of a traditional pub. Usually a laid back boozer, it is also a regular music venue for local blues and rock bands.
The Grove Inn
Despite being hidden towards the bottom of town, The Grove Inn continues to attract loyal customers, and for good reason. This cosy pub was built around 1830 and remodelled by John Smith’s brewery in 1928/1929, when the rear concert room was added. It is still well used many nights of the week, notably for their regular folk music club.
The Horse & Trumpet
The Horse & Trumpet in Leeds was first name checked in 1798 and the existing building was erected in 1875. The name refers to the horse in a troop of cavalry hunters, whose regiment included a trumpeter, and who are likely to have drunk here. Now under a pub group ownership who have added comfort whilst keeping the down to earth local feel.
Originally the home of an 18th century Leeds timber merchant, the standalone building of The Palace has been a pub for over 100 years. Legend has it that the bar is happily haunted, as the ghost of actor, singer, poet and Palace regular Michael Hill still visits here since his passing in 1948. For the living, a trip to The Palace has much to enjoy, from the beer and tv sports to the traditional pub comfort.
The Scarbrough Hotel
This traditional pub in a standout building was formerly a moated Medieval Manor House and became a public house in 1826. Originally called The Kings Arms and run by Henry Scarbrough, who it was named after when City Varieties owner Fred Wood took over the pub at the end of the 19th century. It remains popular and well-known throughout Leeds as a relaxed city pub keeping up with traditions.
Images: Whitelocks Ale House, The Ship Inn, The Adelphi, The Cross Keys, The Scarbrough Hotel