Why this suburban Leeds street scene hides a fantasy landscape

Out Out.
Out Out.
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A horse-drawn coal cart trundles past rows of terraced houses and the striking art-deco of the Regal Cinema.

Above postboxes and signal boxes, milk bottles, tower blocks and the Roundhay Park cafe, two golden owls, freed from their Civic Hall perches, soar in majesty to stalk their prey among this spectacular streetscape.

This astonishing fantasy, created by Harrogate artist Mike Winnard but grounded in the local architecture, dominates one long wall of this new bar which has added an extra dimension to the burgeoning beer scene of Crossgates.

“I was in a bar in Essex and they had an amazing mural,” says boss Chris Reading; its Austrian artist pointed him in Winnard’s direction. Created over the course of a week, its draughtsmanship is superb; streaks, drips and long dribbles of the grey, beige and white paint lend a slight Jackson Pollock feel to its margins.

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Out Out opened in February, and represents Chris’s determination to spend more time closer to home. “I’m an electrician and I’d had enough of working away all the time. My two passions are beer and golf, and I couldn’t afford a golf course.”

Taking the less expensive option has given us this friendly sociable space, a narrow bar of quality beer where some imaginative touches lend a fresh twist to its on-trend industrial chic. Metal shelving behind the bar is stacked with a colourful display of wines and spirits; red industrial stop taps are repurposed as wall lights.

Overhead, heavy-duty trunking is retained as a design feature, thick slabs of wood as wall panelling. Beside the window, drinkers perch on barrels. Outside, wooden flower beds and raised decking folded in by scaffolding rails, gently requisition this little piece of the busy street to the bar’s cause.

Back inside, blanking out the passing traffic and the view across to the gaudy jumble of shops over the road, you are left with the faint impression of being below decks in some vast ocean liner. A ship’s propellor is strikingly reinvented as a clock, brass stopcocks are coat hooks, thick lengths of hemp rope are terminated by light bulbs.

We take our drinks to tables whose concrete-effect tops play to the theme. I’ve chosen the single real ale, the pale and sessionable Double Deckerdence, my first encounter with Bowland Brewery in Clitheroe. The choice will rotate, though Bowland and Tockwith’s own Rudgate Brewery have already established themselves as local favourites.

Though the counter is short, Chris is determined to cater for all tastes: “We’ll always have something light, something dark, a lager, a pilsner, and a cider.”

By day it doubles as a coffee shop, no doubt a welcome retreat for those drawn to the busy Arndale Centre over the way. And with nearby newcomers Locus and Assembly, Chris’s bar forms a perfect little craft bar circuit which is quite distinct from the traditional pubs that have long dominated the Crossgates drinking scene.

As for the name, he points me in the direction of Cockney comedian Micky Flanagan and a long sketch about the difference between “popping out”, “going out”, and “going out out”.

I’m not sure if Out Out is the out-and-out definition of “going out out” – but if ‘owt, I’d have to say that mural is outstanding.

FACTFILE

Austhorpe Road, Crossgates, Leeds, LS15 8BA

Type: Modern, straightforward beer bar

Host: Chris Reading

Opening Hours: Noon-midnight daily

Beers: Single rotating real ale (£3.80) plus Carlsberg pilsner (£3.60), San Miguel (£4.20) - and small selection of craft and bottled beers

Wine: Decent selection - 25% off Prosecco on Thursday

Food: Packaged snacks only - but coffee and cake by day

Beer garden: Attractive decking area to the front

Disabled: Easy ramp access beside the decking

Children: Welcomed, but no special facilities

Parking: On-street areas nearby

Telephone: 0113 318 0277

Facebook: @outoutbarcrossgates