The Whip: Memories of a 'men only' Leeds pub

It was the Leeds pub which dragged its feet when it came to sexual equality.

By Andrew Hutchinson
Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 11:30 am

The Whip in Leeds city centre was a 'men only' watering hole right up to the introduction of the sex discrimination laws in the 1970s.

Indeed the boozer on Bowers Yard off Duncan Street had to have female toilets specially installed to comply with that legislation.

Yet the pub, which took its name from its days as an old coaching inn of the 19th century, led from the front when it came to other social changes. It was the first in Leeds to adopt a ban on smoking.

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The Whip in Bowers Yard off Duncan Street. PIC: James Wheeler

One memory on Leodis, the photographic archive run by which is run by Leeds Library & Information Service, reads: "I remember when I was nine or ten, standing in the doorway of The Whip, drinking pop and eating possibly a pork pie, while my dad was inside drinking with his mates. It was the 4th of November 1956 or 1957. I woke up the next day for some reason with mumps, and missed the Bonfire Night celebrations. So this has stuck in my mind.

"It was a great boozer, probably some of the best pints of Tetley's ever. A great place to be if you were Irish or Irish decent. I remember when the law was changed (1974?), so women were allowed in. Up to then The Whip had only served beers and a limited choice of spirits, Whiskey, Brandy, Rum, etc. So to cater for the new female trade, they purchased bottles of Sweet Martini (Rosso)."

Between the wars it earned the reputation of boasting more beer sales than any other Leeds public house - 25,000 pints a week.

By the 1960s The Whip became a meeting place for Irish customers, and later had a reputation as a haunt of some of the city’s more dubious characters.

This photo looks across Bower's Yard onto what is now the back entrance to the Whip Hotel circa 1973. PIC: Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net

In 1994 it was renamed the Fiddler’s Elbow by Tetley’s Brewery who owned it at the time, But it was reverted back to The Whip after being strenuously lobbied by the Leeds Civic Trust.

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In 2002, it underwent a £350,000 refurbishment, and emerged, amidst angry objections from CAMRA, as another of Leeds’s ‘trendy bars’.

The main image, an undated photo of The Whip, is published courtesy of James Wheeler. The second is published courtesy of photographic archive Leodis, which is run by Leeds Library & Information Service.

November 1996 and The Whip celebrates 100 years since Joshua Tetley bought the pub. Pictured, from left, is actor Geoffrey Pye as Joshua Tetley and regular Jack Thirkell, 81, who had been visiting the pub from the aged of 20. PIC: James Hardisty

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