Monday, August 09, 2004

How not to own a pub (warning - Yorks identity post)

Whitelocks Luncheon Bar in Leeds is possibly the best pub in the world. Hidden in one of the oldest surviving parts of Leeds (Turk's Head Yard), on the site of a Knights Templar cross, it is an astonishing Victorian fantasy of black wood panelling, mirrors, plush and porcelain, divided by a curtain between a long copper bar and an even more plush restaurant like something that escaped from the Orient Express in 1901. It is famous for - among other things - being the first public place in Leeds with electricity, serving fantastic home-made pies, real ale and bloody wine. The current building and the interior date from the 1890s, when it advertised with two Hollywood premiere style searchlights sweeping the sky over the doors, which were guarded by an Irish giant to keep anyone from bothering the dwarves.

Yes, I did say dwarves. At the time they employed dwarf waiters. I don't think you'd get away with that now.

It's been favoured by a variety of people: writers and hacks, old ladies, Leeds City Council bigwigs, escapees from the Leeds Festival. Me. Peter O'Toole. Whatever. Now, though, it has become part of a thing called the "Spirit Group" that bought it off Scottish & Newcastle Breweries. They have classified it as a "City Day Pub" and assigned it model customers called "Mick and Ruth". The fury really should have been predictable - on the 2nd of August, the Yorkshire Post devoted most of page 2 to a ferocious slagging. The branding document concerning Mick and Ruth and their taste for pinot grigio was run hard, backed up with a vitriolic review by their restaurant critic, who accused the new owners of microwaving the potatoes (for shame!). Today, the story broke nationally in the Guardian, with a report on a campaign by "old farts of all ages" to resist the evil onslaught. Good luck to 'em.


Anonymous said...

I have just got married to Ivan Whitelocks and just put our name into our laptop.Your public house came up it sounds fantastic and we hope to visit you soon.

All the best
Mrs Jayne B Whitelocks

Anonymous said...

I have a charcoal sketch done by stuart wa---- dont know last name stunning picture of whitelocks pub bought it in a junk shop on north st many yeaars ago cos I made the benches outside
Anyone interested if the price is right Mike

Anonymous said...

The artist is Stuart Walton.

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