A BUSY city centre shopping precinct would not normally be the first place you go looking for a discreet pint of ale in a quiet, centuries-old hostelry.
Yet tucked away off bustling Briggate in the very heart of Leeds, hidden down a sly alleyway behind a high street bank, lies Whitelocks, the oldest pub in the city by some distance and still a cracking place to call in.
Whitelocks is at its best in the early evening rush, with a warm and friendly crowd. As you’d expect from a venue now approaching its 300th birthday, this is a classic pub in every sense, from the reams of shiny brass and the ancient wooden floors to vast mirrors still etched with food prices from years ago.
The bar, unfeasibly colossal, takes up at least half the entire pub and remains well stocked with at least eight frequently changing real ales.
As you’d expect from a hostelry which dates back to 1715, myths and legends abound. The pub claims to have once employed giants as doormen and dwarfs as waiters, not to mention a ghost or two. It was the first pub in Leeds with electricity, or so they say, and the first with an electric clock.
For those who want it, food is served in the grand old luncheon bar next door, and anyone calling by for lunch will find a plain but hearty menu including lamb shank and steak-and-stilton pie, each reasonably priced at under a tenner.
No lesser a man than John Betjeman described the pub as “the very heart of Leeds”. His words ring as true today as ever they once did.
Whitelocks, 4 Turks Head Yard, Leeds, LS1 6HB. 0113 245 3950.