Barfly is always looking for reasons to celebrate our city’s fine drinking establishments and with the clocks going back, we are also turning the clocks back in another way, to look at some of Leeds’s oldest pubs.
THE GARDEN GATE
Noted for its spectacular architecture, it looks somewhat out of place in its present location in Hunslet. It has an illustrious history: in 1823, gardener Thomas Walton bought a plot measuring 344 yards at 3s 3d per yard for a total of £55.18s. In 1901 the architect W Mason Coggill of Stourton, Leeds, was commissioned to design a brand new pub. Construction began in 1902 and was completed by 1903. It survived demolition in 1972 and is now part of the Leeds Brewery empire.
One of the best known ‘traditional’ pubs in Leeds, it is more than 100 years old and also sports elegant stonework to the outside and is a drinker’s paradise within. It still shows the original glass partitions between rooms and has a large function room upstairs.
The oldest pub in Leeds, it sailed effortlessly past its 300th anniversary in 2015 and is as vibrant now as it ever was.
Another gem of a drinking hole and one hidden away from view, even though its right in the middle of the city. You might catch a glimpse of it as you saunter past, laden with shopping bags, and yearn to sneak down the narrow alley where a dozen or so wooden tables lead to this Sam Smiths pub, where you can almost feel the weight of tradition in the air - but it’s not just lip service they pay to their illustrious past, their prices are also stuck in the past (in a good way), so you can still buy a pint of “Taddy” lager for £2.10.
Note the spelling, which refers to the pubs first licensee, Henry Scarbrough, in 1826. The current building is the wing of a former 18th century mansion. Colloquially known as the ‘Scabby Taps’, it used the stage talent contests, with the winners going on to perform at the City Varieties. It has been given a new lease of life in recent years and two years ago was CAMRA’s pub of the year.
For years the Templar has been somewhat out on a limb. A traditional boozer through and through, it’s tiled frontage makes something of a forlorn site, covered in the grime of city life. Clearly patronised by a stalwart bunch, it now finds itself at the centre of a newly invigorated quarter in the city and whose to say someone won’t come along with a hosepipe to give it a clean some time soon?