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A exterior view of a hidden gem
Whitelocks a hidden gem
Rushing down Briggate it is all too easy to miss some of the yards and alleyways that still criss-cross the city centre. In Turk's Head Yard is Whitelocks, one of Leeds' hidden gems.
For generations the ornate public house has fed and watered Leeds' residents, now it is to be honoured with the 100th blue plaque from Leeds Civic Trust.
Briggate's yards, alleys and Victorian arcades, had many an inn or public house within. The best known of the remaining ones is Whitelocks.
It opened, as the Turks Head, in 1715, catering mainly for merchants and market traders. The pub was especially busy on Tuesdays and Saturdays when Briggate marketplace was thronged with people.
In 1867 the licence of the Turk’s Head was granted to John Lupton Whitelock. He was followed by his son William Whitelock, then Lupton Whitelock and Percy Whitelock, who sold the pub to a brewery in 1944.
In the 1880s John Lupton Whitelock began to establish the ornate decor still in place today, the long marble topped bar, etched mirrors and glass. The mirrors are joined by polished brasswork and cast-iron tables, all making for a genuine Edwardian atmosphere.
From the mid-1890s the pub became better known as Whitelock’s First City Luncheon Bar and in 1897 John Lupton Whitelock installed electricity including a revolving searchlight at the Briggate entrance to the yard.
Whitelocks was a favourite rendezvous with stage stars and it received royal approval when Prince George, later Duke of Kent, entertained a party in a curtained-off section of the restaurant.
At one time a doorman made sure that men wore dinner jackets and, as women were not allowed at the bar, waiters served drinks where female customers sat.
Poet John Betjeman enjoyed the atmosphere of Whitelocks, describing it as "the Leeds equivalent of Fleet Street's Old Cheshire Cheese and far less self-conscious, and does a roaring trade. It is the very heart of Leeds."
The text of the plaque will read:
WHITELOCKS Occupying a medieval Briggate burgage plot, It was first licensed as the Turk’s Head in 1716. Rebuilt by the Whitelock family in the 1880s, It later extended into the row of Georgian Working men’s cottages. John Betjeman described it as ‘the very heart of Leeds’.
It will be unveiled by Sarah Whitelock, granddaughter of Lupton Whitelock.
last updated: 26/03/2008 at 16:49
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