Historic Leeds pub celebrates 300 years of pulling pints

Whitelock's celebrates its 300th birthday this year. TJ100653d Picture Tony Johnson

Whitelock's celebrates its 300th birthday this year. TJ100653d Picture Tony Johnson

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Historic city centre watering hole Whitelock’s is raising a glass to 300 years of pulling pints.

Nestled off Briggate, Whitelock’s is one of the oldest pubs in Leeds.

But mystery surrounds the actual date it was officially launched when it first opened in 1715 as the Turk’s Head, catering mainly for merchants and market traders.

Bar worker Kim Shires, who has worked at the popular pub for the last 31 years, said: “I’ve seen lots of changes around us over the decades, but here inside the pub it stays the same.

“It has a great atmosphere and lots of characters come in for a drink or food.

“We have regulars who have been here forever, and young families with kids, and then the younger crowd. It seems to appeal to everyone.

“We are aware that 2015 is the 300th anniversary, but no one seems sure of the exact date.

“We are planning to celebrate but what we are doing has not been decided.”

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.

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.

And Kim said the opening of the nearby Trinity Leeds had given the pub a new entry point, and although hidden from the crowds of shoppers, it was still ideally located.

The ginnels off Briggate date back 800 years to the early development of the township. They housed the homes of the craftsmen whose businesses fronted the street.

When Whitelock’s opened originally as the Turk’s Head, Leeds was becoming a centre for the woollen industry – and when John Lupton Whitelock took over in 1880, the industrial revolution had changed the face of the city.

Customers have included poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, who described the pub as “the heart of Leeds”, and Charles Dickens.

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