Pub review: The Primrose, Leeds

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This is a pub which has seen any number of changes over the years. At times it has been somewhere I would have been reluctant to visit – let alone recommend YEP readers to do so.

But under the careful stewardship of Steve Woods and Steve Thurston, the Primrose is finally blooming again.

This landmark suburban boozer is one of about 30 which are owned by the Bridlington Pub Company. The two Steves were running a couple of their Scarborough houses when the opportunity came to move over to Leeds. “We heard that this had been a really big music pub in the past, and that was just what we wanted,” says Steve W, and the pair upped sticks and moved inland.

It wasn’t an immediate success: “When I first arrived I really thought I had made a mistake,” he tells me over a late afternoon pint. “It was completely dead. I would be
 sat on my own for hours on end with no-one coming in.”

Gradually the pair have begun to turn things around, starting by re-invigorating the pub’s pool team, before turning their attention to re-establishing the Primrose as a great live venue.

“We began chatting to 
people about music. We started getting bands on, and then it just snowballed,” says Steve, who now puts on acts every Friday and Saturday.

The result is the packing out of the pub back room ensuring some healthy weekend takings for a pub which is clearly striving to achieve the same sort of community focus which is such a feature of the nearby Chemic in Woodhouse, which I reviewed last week.

The mills and terraced homes that were once the lifeblood of the Primrose are gone - Meanwood’s tanneries and leather works which once employed hundreds are long since consigned to history, their place taken by industrial units and student accommodation.

“One of the things that the company wanted to do was to bring in more of the students, but they don’t seem to be interested in the live music,” says Steve.

Instead, this younger crowd seem to come in during the week, no doubt attracted by the live BT Sport which is shown on the big screen.

After the summer, the Primrose will be getting Sky Sport too, just in time for the new term and the start of the new football season.

“Isn’t that a bit expensive?” I suggest, given that few
 small pubs such as the Primrose can afford to show live games.

“You’d think so, but they did me a great deal,” says Steve. “I’d have been stupid to say no.”

This two-room alehouse dates back to the mid-19th century, its central bar 
serving what may once have been the saloon bar and the snug.

There are two handpumps on the bar, but on my visit, neither was connected to anything interesting in
the cellar. “We only serve real ale at the weekend,” Steve explains. “It’s the only time we get enough customers in to justify it.”

They source the ale from Ridgeside Brewery, which is 
so close they could roll the casks along the road, if ever the van broke down.

Ridgeside seems to be getting back on its feet after the hiatus caused by the death of much-loved founder and head brewer Simon Bolderson. As an old rocker himself, I know he would be delighted that the live music pub closest to his brewery is continuing to serve his great beers.

Contact:; @jenkinslovesbeer


Type: Community pub and live music venue

Host: Steve Woods and Steve Thurston

Opening hours: Noon-midnight Sun-Thurs, noon-1am Fri-Sat

Beers: Ridgeside ale (£2.60 - weekends only) plus Tetley Smooth (£2), Carlsberg (£2), Fosters (£2.80), Stella Artois (£3.10), Guinness (£3), Strongbow (£3)

Wines: Limited choice

Food: None

Disabled: Straightforward access but no special facilities.

Children: Welcomed, no special facilities

Beer garden: Outdoor tables to the front

Entertainment: Regular programme of live music Friday and Saturday evenings, plus BT Sports TV, games machine and pool table

Parking: Samll area to the side

Telephone: 0113 262 7119