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Pub/Bar of the Month February 2018: Whitelock's Ale House, Leeds, UK

Whitelock’s Ale House, Leeds, UK

One of the delights of visiting an unfamiliar town or city is discovering its tucked-away pubs and bars.

WhitelocksVery often it’s not the high-street venues that make their mark but the less showy ones, secreted in the backstreets or down little alleyways.

Leeds has its fair share of such discoveries, headlined by Whitelock’s, a Grade-II listed establishment which, having celebrated its 300th birthday three years ago, claims to be the oldest pub in the city.

This CAMRA heritage pub can be found – if you know where to look – along an alleyway close to Marks & Spencer. On the face of it, the wide, pedestrianised main street known as Briggate has little to offer apart from big stores but here we are, just seconds away, in one of the city’s finest boozers.

The pub actually occupies the whole alleyway, with tables outside for clement weather. Inside, beyond the colourful, leaded windows, Whitelock's is a visual treat, a wonderfully preserved example of late-Victorian drinking splendour.

Two Sides

Its ‘Luncheon Bar’ consists of one long, beamed, rectangular room with the bar at one end and a kitchen serving hatch at the other (food centres on pub classics like fish and chips, pies and sausage and mash, much of the produce sourced locally).

Leatherette banquettes skirt around the sides of the room, divided into cosy areas by wood panels and mirrored screens. Brass fittings and shiny mirrors glisten whichever way you turn, with a large Vaux’s Stout mirror dominating the end wall.

Reserved for diners at certain times, this side of the pub is carpeted and comfortable, with a coal fire in the hearth. The other side is smaller and more stripped back with everyone’s eyes drawn to the bar itself which is magnificently tiled in turquoise and cream and topped with a gleaming expanse of copper and marble.

WhitelocksThe cask beer provision – courtesy of eleven handpumps – is exemplary, combining old favourites with the latest creations from smaller breweries.

Whether your preference is for something old school like Taylor’s Landlord or Theakston Old Peculier or a more exotic offering brimming with New World hops from Rooster’s, Ilkley, Wilde Child or others, you’re well catered for.

The same comprehensive cover is provide by the keg taps, some pouring big name products, others dispensing craft, which leads us on to the pub’s sister establishment, the Turk’s Head, further along the alleyway.

Adopting the name that the main pub itself used until the Whitelock family took ownership in the late nineteenth century, it is here that craft really comes into its own, most dispensed via keg, bottle or can.

This stripped, bare-boarded venue – with an intriguing display of vintage pharmacists’ bottles built into the bar – opened in 2016, allowing an old pub to move forward with the times. It ensures Whitelock’s now covers all beer-drinking bases – and in some style.

Whitelock’s Ale House, Turk's Head Yard, Leeds, LS1 6HB, UK.
Tel. (0113) 245 3950
Opening Hours: 11–midnight; 11–1am Friday and Saturday; 11–11 Sunday

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