125th anniversary puts #YEPleeds in the party spirit

APRIL 2006.'Speed Queen night at the Warehouse Nightclub, Leeds.

APRIL 2006.'Speed Queen night at the Warehouse Nightclub, Leeds.

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As the Yorkshire Evening Post celebrates its 125th birthday, Paul Robinson looks at pubs and clubs that have featured in its pages.

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It’s celebration time at the Yorkshire Evening Post next week as the newspaper marks the 125th anniversary of the publication of its first ever edition.

So where better to continue our trawl through YEP history than with a look at some of the places where readers have let their hair down over the years?

From the dance halls of the early 20th century through to the 24-hour party people of modern times, coverage of pubs, clubs and bars in Leeds and the rest of Yorkshire has been one of the paper’s staple ingredients. Here are 10 famous names that have appeared in the YEP over the last 125 years:

l The Majestic cinema opened its doors in 1922 but by the mid-1950s it was a ballroom at the City Square building that was taking top billing.

Margaret Smith, who regularly attended dances as a teenager, would later tell the YEP: “There was never any trouble, all the staff wore evening dress and there were immaculately dressed commissionaires on the doors to keep out the riff-raff!”

l What is now the O2 Academy Leeds had a previous life as the Town & Country Club between 1992 and 2000, staging gigs by the likes of Robbie Williams, Blur and David Bowie.

The YEP’s review of Bowie’s show in 1997 lavished praise on his renditions of classic tracks such as The Jean Genie and Fashion, adding: “[He] seemed so comfortable with the size of the T&C, as his grin confirmed, and it was great to be able to watch him at such close quarters.”

l The YEP led the backlash after new owners of Leeds’s historic Whitelocks pub ditched its traditional menu of daily roasts and steamed puds in 2004.

Letters of complaint poured into the paper and reporter Peter Lazenby came away unimpressed after a visit to sample the new fare, writing: “The unique, tantalising smell of roasting beef, so sweet you could almost taste it, has gone from Whitelocks.” Fears of a wholesale switch to nachos and pasta were soon allayed, however, and today the pub is still going strong.

l Peter Stringfellow opened Cinderella’s nightclub on Merrion Way in 1970, with neighbouring sister venue Rockerfella’s welcoming its first revellers two years later.

The YEP teamed up with Cinderella’s in 1979 to run a “disco dancing” competition with a first prize of a trip across the English Channel by hovercraft followed by a five-day holiday in Paris.

l Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner, Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers were just some of the top stars who beat a path to Batley Variety Club during its glory years of the 1960s and 1970s.

Reporting on the booking of Louis Armstrong for a two-week residency in 1968, the YEP said: “A record fee in excess of 60,000 dollars will be paid for the Satchmo band.”

l Legendary Leeds club night Back to Basics was started by DJ and promoter Dave Beer with best friend Alistair Cooke in 1991.

Speaking to the YEP in 2006 about its success, Beer said: “There are moments when I catch myself grumbling about stuff and I end up saying ‘Sort yourself out Dave, you come from a council estate in Pontefract and look where you are now’.”

l The Warehouse on Somers Street earned its place in late night Leeds folklore by playing host to bands including Frankie Goes To Hollywood and The Stone Roses as well as influential club nights.

It was given the green light in 1993 to open until 6am on Sundays, with the promoters of its Vague night telling the YEP: “This decision is absolutely brilliant. We can now start running the club the way we would like to and that is making it far more European.”

l Opened in a Georgian basement on York Place in 1977, Len’s Bar was one of Leeds’s first wine bars. After the venue was put up for sale in 1999, the YEP wrote: “The oak panelled walls, restrained lighting and high level of choice and customer care attracted the in-crowd in Leeds for years.”

l The Merrion Centre’s Bavarian-themed Hofbrauhaus was hailed as the first of its kind in the UK when it opened in 1972.

A double-page spread in the YEP toasting the new arrival included the tantalising promise: “[It’s the] kind of place where strangers very quickly become friends and friends become even friendlier.”

l The octagonal-shaped General Wade pub on Wade Lane was renamed the Nautical Wheel in 1979, with a piece in the YEP singling out its new Captain’s Cabin and Gun Deck areas for special attention.

Today it has been earmarked for demolition as part of the redevelopment of the neighbouring Merrion Hotel – confirmation, if any was needed, that very little lasts forever on the Leeds social scene.

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