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Leeds offers much more than a wide array of pubs

For those coming to Leeds for this Saturday’s Revitalisation meeting you will be absolutely spoilt for choice if you wish to sample the city’s pubs. There’s something for everyone - gastro pubs, craft beer specialists and a string of heritage pubs.

There should be ample time before and after to enjoy the city with the meeting taking place from 1 till 3pm at The Tetley, which was the site of the former Tetley brewery for the best part of 200 years.

As well as the range of pubs that showcase the modern options available to drinkers and pub-goers, Leeds offers plenty in terms of shopping and leisure walks, all within easy reach of the city centre.

The city that has also undergone significant change. There’s the Holbeck Urban Village where 18th century industrial buildings have been converted to residential, business and retail use and some time ago the Victoria Quarter was converted to a magnificent indoor shopping complex.

This background of change makes Leeds well-placed to take a valued call on how CAMRA could adapt its ways or even stay as it is.

It also provides a diverse offering to drinkers and pub-goers with a crop of ‘craft beer’ pubs and shops and can boast more Heritage pubs than most, having six pubs in the National Inventory. These tend to be from the age of Leeds’s great expansion and also of pub building, in the late Victorian and Edwardian era. There is also a fine example of inter-war design.

Probably the most famous Leeds pub is Whitelocks, which has been owned by the family of that name since around 1880. Described by poet John Betjeman as “The very heart of Leeds.” Tucked down an alley, it has a fine ceramic bar, old woodwork and brewery mirrors creating an atmospheric traditional bar.

Another heritage pub is The Adelphi, which has fine etched glass, mahogany screens and terrazzo floors.

A little further to walk is The Beech Hotel in Lower Wortley, which was rescued and renovated before being re-opened in November.

At the bottom of Kirkgate is The Palace. It isn’t exactly palatial, but it has plenty of stories to tell. It’s most famous tales include the famous actor who died on the premises not long after it opened in 1848 and the rumour that an old lady is supposed to haunt the vaults.

Despite its Jekyll and Hyde past, from being Scruffy Murphy’s and more recently, The Wellington, the newly-named Phoenix Gastro Bar was the birthplace of Leeds CAMRA 40 years ago.

Another with an interesting background is the Victoria Hotel. Way before the advent of Assets of Community Value, it was rescued from demolition in 1973 by a public campaign.

Here are some of the other pubs to look out for..


Veritas houses a deli, which is packed with a great range of Yorkshire cheese, breads, preserves and meats – but is a great pub in its own right too. There’s a strong local theme on the bar, with breweries such as Rooster’s, Saltaire, Phoenix, Hawkshead and Ridgeside always popular.

The Midnight Bell

Leeds brewery’s flagship pub is the place to enjoy Leeds Pale in the sun-trap of a courtyard, or a quiet meal upstairs with a comforting pint of Midnight Bell, only a short walk out of Leeds Centre.

The Hop

With a massive slant towards live music, The Hop is more than just a place to see local bands. Owned by Ossett brewery, this is a great location to try Ossett’s range of beers – from the strong pale ale Excelsior to the rich and malty Big Red.

The Grove

Famed for its commitment to Ale and Folk music, it’s a popular pub and one that has rightly survived the development that’s gone on around it.

Friends of Ham

A relative newcomer to Leeds but already immensely popular through its mix of deli, wine bar and beer bar is a unique one in Leeds. There’s local real ales from the likes of Revolutions Brewing Co and Hawkshead, or enjoy a bottle of something from further afield, with London’s new breweries (Kernel, Partizan, Beavertown etc) becoming something of a niche.

North Bar

A real Leeds institution. Since opening in 1997, it’s continued to champion beer from all around the world in a unique setting. The bar groans under the weight of beer – which ranges from local heroes such as Kirkstall and Ridgeside, to beers from the US and further afield.

The Cross Keys

The elegant sister of North Bar, The Cross Keys pairs good food with great beer. Friendly staff and a good atmosphere complement the real ales (Kirkstall and Little Valley are regular), and there’s a great selection of beers from the US and Europe in the fridges.

As well as pubs, of course, there’s also time to sample the Victoria Quarter’s wonderful indoor shopping area or head down to the canal which are only a stone’s throw from the rail station and the city centre. Alternatively, take a look at the innovative Holbeck Urban Village, a stylish conversion of 18th century industrial buildings to business, residential and retail use.

The canal provides a variety of walks that are a serene hideaway from the bustling city nearby.

Here is one guide that will give you a range of walking options - and there are waterside pubs en route to relieve the burden. Enjoy your day in Leeds.

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