WHOEVER had the bright idea of renaming this place ‘The Industrialist’ reckoned without the deep well of affection which exists for this famous roadside inn.
Much loved by the community in well-to-do Far Headingley, and well used by everyone from cinemagoers to rugby fans to students, the Three Horseshoes has been a key part of the community for generations, its name deriving from the Victorian omnibuses which would terminate here, giving the horses chance to draw breath before the trudge back into Leeds.
An online petition, backed by a powerful alliance of locals and beer-loving MP Greg Mulholland, prompted a change of heart and the old name was quickly restored.
That apart, the rebirth of this great old pub can hardly be faulted. The change was long overdue. It had become tired and worn, its atmosphere sometimes difficult and fractious.
In truth it suffered by close comparison to its two venerable neighbours. Both Woodies and the New Inn are seemingly thriving under Greene King’s colours.
The Horseshoes is owned by massive Spirit Group, who have gutted the building, creating a light and welcoming space serving quality food and drink. And the people have started to come back.
Stepping through the front door, you arrive at a panel-fronted L-shaped bar. In pride of place at its apex are eight real ale handpumps, three of which serve big-selling favourites Doom Bar, Leeds Pale and Theakston’s Best, while the rest offer a changing range of guests. Tiny kilner jars beside each pump allow drinkers to select by colour as well as strength.
Shiny beer fonts broaden the choice, with a healthy range of American craft alternatives – Brooklyn, Sam Adams and Shipyard – and sufficient brands to satisfy the most picky of lager drinkers.
The decor is cream, beige and grey, though some old Yorkshire stone has been left attractively exposed.
Behind the bar, a wall of white tiles contrasts with colourful bottles of wines and spirits.
Furniture-wise you choose between long wooden benches, mismatched chairs, leather banquettes and attractive deep wing chairs which wouldn’t look out of place in some exclusive gentlemen’s club in Piccadilly.
“It’s gone down very well,” says manager Danny Blackwell. “People noticed that we had put planters out at the front and decided to pop in and see what we were up to – and from there it has just been word of mouth. Everyone has said it’s improved and we’re getting people coming in who haven’t been in for years.”
Danny’s untainted by the previous regime. Originally from Roundhay, he joined the pub for the re-opening after a long spell overseas. “I’d heard of it from when I used to live in Leeds but I’d never been in.”
He has inherited a pub with a ready-made clientele and with the renewed goodwill of the community.
Once again the Three Horseshoes is taking its place as a place for all its locals to meet and drink, to watch live sport or for the Otley Run crowd to enjoy a brief visit in fancy dress.
There’s live music coming in the summer, and the pub is also establishing itself once again as a place to eat.
The menu starts with full english breakfasts (£6.95) from opening time and continues with a good choice of burgers (from £7.95) and pizzas (from £6.95), the latter stone baked in the giant oven which dominates one end of the bar. I enjoyed a hearty, good value lunch of pie, mash and peas (£4.95).
It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
Address: The Three Horseshoes, Otley Road, Far Headingley
Type: Lively food and drink house
Host: Danny Blackwell
Opening Hours: 11.30am-11pm Sun-Thur; 11.30am-midnight Fri-Sat
Beers: Leeds Pale (£3.10), Doom Bar (£3.10), Theakston’s Best (£3.10) plus changing selection of five guest real ales. Also Brooklyn (£4.60), Samuel Adams (£4.60), Shipyard (£4), Bitter and Twisted (£4), Peroni (£4), San Miguel (£3.60), Estrella (£3.85), Carling (£3.20), Guinness (£3.40), Strongbow (£3.30) and John Smith’s Smooth (£2.80)
Wine: Good wine list with choices from £3.50-glass and £12.95-bottle
Food: Wide-ranging menu served from 11.30am-9pm daily
Disabled: Straightforward access and open plan inside, plus disabled toilet facilities
Children: Welcomed; kids’ meals and high chairs available
Beer garden: Courtyard to rear and tables to fron
Entertainment: Sky Sports TV, games machines and occasional live music starting in the summer
Parking: Small car park to rear
Telephone: 0113 2757222