Tucked down a narrow alley, the oldest pub in Leeds has been praised by Betjeman, Keith Waterhouse and anybody that has been through its doors over the years.
First opened in 1715, Whitelock’s Ale House is situated in the city centre of Leeds, and it’s dripping with history. Back in it’s early days, it would be full of merchants and market traders that had come to Leeds to sell their wears. The pub turned 300 years old in 2015 under the name the Turk’s Head, a heritage reflected in the name of the yard in which Whitelock’s is situated – it is still called Turk’s Head Yard.
The pub was made famous by John Lupton Whitelock, a flute player with the Hallé and Leeds Symphony Orchestra, who knew how to make a drinking place unique.
History seeps out of every corner of the pub, right from the moment you slip down the alleyway into the yard outside. The Victorian interior hasn’t aged a day since the end of the 19th-century. The low beamed ceilings and mahogany furnishings hint at a bygone era. The pub tends to have the best Yorkshire beers and traditional quality food, it’s the perfect place to get perched and have a beer (or maybe five).
In 1963, the pub received a Grade II listing and was also honoured by the Leeds Civic Trust with the 100th iconic “blue Plaque” – to cement its place in history as one of Leeds greatest historical buildings. The plaque reads “WHITELOCKS Occupying a medieval Briggate burgage plot, it was first licensed as the Turk’s Head in 1715. 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”.
Whitelock’s 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.
If you want to check out this piece of Leeds history, you can find the pub at Whitelock’s Ale House, Turks Head Yard, Leeds, LS1 6HB
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