Leeds nostalgia: Garden Gate pub then and now

The Garden Gate in Hunslet
The Garden Gate in Hunslet
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Frequently described down the years as Leeds’s most beautiful pub, The Garden Gate pub dates to 1903 and survived a demolition threat in 1972 to become a listed building or special architectural merit. However, there was an inn on the site in 1833.

It stands today as an example of Victorian splendour and it has changed little in almost 200 years, as our two pictures show.

The top picture was taken in 2009 and shows the interior little changed from the turn of the 20th Century. Indeed, the pub, which was recently given a new lease of life after being taken on by Leeds Brewery, looks just the same today.

The bottom picture shows Mrs Alice Leach, wife of licensee Robert Sewell, who incidentally had nine daughters and two sons. Back then they used to sell ‘haporths of gin’ to lady customers.

In 1823, one Thomas Walton of Hunslet - a gardener - purchased a plot of land 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. Almost all of the work was carried out by local Leeds firms including the Leeds Fireclay Company, who provided all the glazed tilling, and bar fitting firm J Claughton, who were responsible for the woodwork and fixed seating. The layout is absolutely typical of a small late Victorian, early Edwardian pub with its separate rooms and central corridor. Architecturally it has ‘a decorative treatment which rivals that of much larger city centre ‘gin palaces’ of the period’ and ‘a wealth of internal riches that include lavish tilling, faience and etched glass with art nouveau motifs, mosaic floors, moulded plasterwork and ornate mahogany fitments’.