Former music pub gets new lease of life

MEGASTARS played there before they became famous and it was once the shining jewel in Tetley's crown.

In its heyday, the huge pub and hotel rocked to the sounds of early concerts by stars including The Sex Pistols, U2, Simple Minds, Dire Straits and even The Rolling Stones.

But now the Fforde Grene in Harehills, Leeds, has gone forever.

The imposing four-storey building on Roundhay Road has been bought and refurbished and will re-open soon as a supermarket.

It means the end of an era for the landmark pub, which closed its door in July 2004.

Gigs stopped four years earlier, after pub owners said there was no demand for live music.

In recent years, a lack of investment and closure of other pubs such as the Hayfield in Chapeltown meant the once popular venue became a haven for drug dealers.

There were several shooting incidents before the pub finally closed on July 15, 2004, after a huge police raid which saw 100 people arrested and Class A drugs seized.

Now, the huge building has a new look, with windows replaced and refurbishment throughout.

It has been bought and renovated by the family which owns the Continental Supermarket on Chapeltown Road. They plan to extend their food empire with a second, bigger store, and create around 12 new jobs.

Planning

Spokesman, Mohammed Zafeer, said: "We imagine it will be a couple of months before we are ready to open. It has taken a lot of hard work and planning.

"It is a huge building and we have not fully decided what we are doing with the upper floors. The store will be on the ground floor, and is much larger than our Chapeltown store."

The name of the pub and hotel will live on in the form of the Fforde Grene football team which is going strong and remains top of its amateur league.

Fforde Grene team manager, Vernol Blair, said: "It is such a shame to see that a magnificent venue and great pub is no more. We had some fantastic times there, but the name still lives on – on the pitch on a Sunday morning.

"We did try to change the name once the pub closed, but it didn't work out, so we now keep it with pride. I am now 38 and I had my first drink in the pub 20 years ago."

The club is top of the Leeds Combination League's Jubilee Premier Division.

The Fforde Grene was built in 1938 and for decades was one of the city's foremost music venues.

The last live music gig took place on April 29, 2000, with resident band Dark Season.

At the time, then manager Keith Morgan said: "It's the end of an era. The Fforde Grene has always been a lively pub. All sorts of bands started off their careers here, and I am told the likes of the Rolling Stones also played an impromptu gig here once."

Legendary Leeds music promoter John Keenan put on Bo Didley, Dr Feelgood, Richard Thompson and John Otway at the Fforde Grene.