>The Garden Gate, Hunslet, Leeds
When Leeds Brewery announced they were rescuing The Garden Gate in Hunslet from dereliction, a cheer went up across the Leeds beer community. It seemed like a match made in heaven, and one that was warmly welcomed at the time – but, a few months on, has it worked?
After spending an entirely pleasant lunch there, my answer would be a resounding yes. I’ll be honest – I’d never been here before. I’d been aware of the building’s importance in Leeds folklore as one of the original Tetley Heritage houses -built in 1903 and grade-two listed – and seen many a picture of its outstanding tiled facade, but it had remained just that bit too far out of town for me to venture toward. I won’t make that mistake again.
The building is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and my pictures don’t do it justice. There’s a warmth to the building that invites you to venture inside – and that is partly down to its new owners, who have kitted the bar out with Leeds’s solid, ever-dependable beer range, and wisely kept every feature about the pub intact, creating an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. Not that they’ve had much choice – the mosaic floor, the tilled bar, the acid-etched glass partitions; before, you would go in just to gawp at the tilework – now there’s a quality of beer to be had, too. It’s a deceptively large pub, and has one bar serving two rooms. Leeds Pale, Midnight Bell, and Best were on (and all in excellent condition, I might add), along with one guest Leeds beer per month and a couple of guests – Tetley’s Dark Mild and, on this occasion, Lancaster Blonde.
As I sat with my beer and chatted with the new hosts, Adam and Ciara, the one thing that struck me was the reverence for the building. Yes, they are young; but they are more that aware of the history of the pub, and the task they have on their hands. Currently working all hours, the two (and their entrancing dog, Diesel) are committed to making this work. Previous pub companies have treated the GG with a fraction of the respect it deserves, and Leeds, along with Adam and Ciara, seem determined to make sure that isn’t that case again. Given the situation, I don’t think Leeds could have given the task to a more suitable couple.
This attitude epitomises how I feel about Leeds Brewery.
Through buying up a varied selection of pubs and bars across Leeds, they’ve catered for all tastes and become firm fixtures in Leeds’s drinking circuit. The Midnight Bell may be full of modern, clean lines, but it’s still an old-fashioned ale-house at heart. Pin may tout cocktails and music as its USP, but it bears well-used pumps for Pale and Midnight Bell. And as for the Brewery Tap – well, it does have the cities’ only on-site lagering facility (when it’s up and running), and is always a good bet for a decent pint before that train home. Despite producing solid, dependable beer, Leeds have been quietly buying up an eclectic range of premises in which to enjoy them in – and for that, they should be praised.
What you have here is one of the most unique drinking experiences in Leeds. A building that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Sure, it’s all of four bus stops outside Leeds, but it’s no excuse at all – visit the Garden Gate for a beer, and you’ll have drunk in a rich part of Leeds’s beer heritage. Catch it while you can – the BBC are filming here later in the year, and there’s a tour of the building next month for Yorkshire Heritage. This is one of Leeds’s most important pubs, and there’s no reason for you to ignore it now.
To give you a snapshot of what might happen when you do ignore buildings like this, here’s a shot of the once-proud Sun Inn on Kirkstall Road – a sister pub to the Garden Gate, if you will. It hasn’t served cask ale for a while, and now the pubco in charge of it has seen fit to let some bloke sell furniture out of it. A sad end to a building of genuine importance. I don’t claim to be a saint – I haven’t set foot in the place in years – but the pub companies have got to give us a reason to go in the first place. Leeds have done that and more with The Garden Gate – maybe The Sun Inn is ripe for a rescue?
I got to The Garden Gate on the No 12 Bus, caught outside the Corn Exchange. Once in Hunslet (about ten minute’s journey), get off at Morrison’s, and go across the small courtyard to the right of the shopping centrereach the pub – it is hidden away somewhat. There’s a good source of information about The Garden Gate, The Sun Inn, and a number of local Heritage pubs here. Visit the pub’s website for further details of promotions, opening hours etc.
Posted on 18/08/2010, in drinking in Leeds, leeds brewery, Tetley Pubs in Yorkshire, The Garden Gate, The Midnight Bell. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.
>Will be in Leeds this weekend, so will take note of this as have very little experience with the place.
>I have only ever been through Leeds on the train to Harrogate, that as a 17 year old lad on my way to Army Apprentices College for all of 14 days due to a medical cock up. I can see now that stopping in Leeds is required when next I inhabit Blighty's shores.
>I need to get down there – being a south Leeds dweller (hey, there is an LS26, you know), it's our nearest proper pub, and it needs support too.
>Wow that's a real pub! I was aware of Leeds Brewery's interest a while back but heard nothing more. I used to do some drinking in that area of the city many many years ago but can't recall ever going there. Looks like a return visit is due. Thanks for update. Do you have a note of the opening times Leigh?
>Zak – bang on. Support is the only thing it needs – everything else in place – beer, atmosphere staff etc…Let us know what you think when you visit. Will – opening times are on the Website if you jump over. Will/Rob/Velky – it's really close to Leeds centre – so if you're drinking in Leeds, it really is worth the trip.
>Congrats Ciara pub sounds brill, maybe i'll get a wee run up to it some time!! All the best ur cous Karen xxx
>If you are in the vicinity of The Garden Gate on a Saturday afternoon, why not take a short stroll and take in some genuine grassroots Rugby League. http://hunsletwarriors.co.uk/
>What an incredible building. Looks to be made of the same glazed red stone as a lot of c.1900 London tube stations and, in fact, that's what I thought it was from a quick glance at the picture.
>Bailey – I understand the material is called Faience, which is a fired,glazed clay, specifically used for decorative work like this.
>I dropped in at the weekend, with some friends from Kent. I'd second everything Leigh says – grand pub, excellent beers and hosts. Leeds Brewery have done their part by getting the place back open – it's now up to the people of Leeds to support it so that we don't risk losing this magnificent pub again.
>Mark – my sentiments exactly.