Leeds Tetley brewery stalwarts give arts centre revamp thumbs-up

PROUD PAST: Former Tetley's Brewery employees Maurice Walker, Ethel Nutton, Ron Walker and his wife Brenda.
PROUD PAST: Former Tetley's Brewery employees Maurice Walker, Ethel Nutton, Ron Walker and his wife Brenda.
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Treasured memories of an iconic Leeds brewery were reignited during a special tour of the revamped Tetley Headquarters for former staff.

Having undergone a £1.5 million refurbishment, the landmark Hunslet building welcomed around 80 former brewery workers to view it in its new role as an arts centre ahead of the general public on Friday.

The members of the Joshua Tetley Association (JTA) viewed works from The Tetley’s inaugural programme called ‘A New Reality’ as well as touring the building’s reconditioned boardroom and former office areas.

Maurice Walker, who was paid 28 shillings a week when he first started working at the brewery in 1948, was among the guests during the private event.

The former barrel maker told the YEP: “I think they’ve done a great job. The way they’ve done it is to educate people but also let the people of Leeds in on the installation of the brewery itself.

“In many ways Tetley’s was the only place in Leeds that everybody knew – each street corner in Leeds had its own Tetley pub.”

The 80-year-old worked there alongside his twin brother Ron until 1991, following in the footsteps of both their father and their uncle.

The Tetley, which was revamped through funds from Carlsberg UK, Leeds City Council and Arts Council England, hosts a ground floor cafe and bar, first floor gallery and office and educational space on upper floors.

From its opening until spring 2014, the first part of ‘A New Reality’ will unpick the fabric of the building, its history and future through a series of exhibitions, residencies and events.

Former brewery worker of 30 years, Richard Sanderson, who runs the JTA, said: “They have done a splendid job in renovating what really is an iconic building.

“Everybody was pleased with it, it’s good that the building is still there as everything else has been knocked down and that’s the one building, thank the Lord, which Carlsberg has not knocked down.”

Tetley Brewery closed in 2011 after 189 years in operation.

Pippa Hale, director at the Project Space Leeds (PSL) charity that runs The Tetley, said the reaction from former workers was “overwhelmingly positive”, so much so that some have donated towards the project.

She said: “One thing we have always been impressed with is the sense of family and camaraderie among former Tetley workers. It’s something we can only hope to emulate in The Tetley going forward.”

Visit www.thetetley.org for information.

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