Before there were Clubs we had lively Pubs


Before there were Clubs we had Lively Pubs.
The first night club I recall in Leeds was The Ace of Clubs in Woodhouse; I would think that would have been in the late 1960s. But before then we had great lively pubs to keep us entertained. Pubs that were worth a good old distance of travel to reach.
The breathalyser did not appear until 1967 and no doubt stopping drink driving was the way to go but in the early stages it did not have an immediate impact. We were used to being able to travel to our favourite pubs have a few drinks and then carefully drive home but this was going to be a sea change event to our life styles. Traditional drinkers would say, ‘What’s this Micky Mouse law? It’s not going to stop me going to my favourite pub and having a few pints.’ And being creatures of our time, please forgive us, it didn’t.
50’s and 60’s pubs with live music drew us like magnets. I’m going to mention three of my favourites for a start I’m sure you will all have your own favourites. On Wednesday nights I loved to visit The Wakefield Arms near Kirkgate Station in Wakefield. Tony C the landlord was also a great pianist. It was worth the trip just to listen to him but there would be singers too, sometimes he would play in the small room just to the left of the entrance or on big nights the music room would be open and all manner of singers and instrumentalists would perform.
My second favourite was: The Royal at Boston Spa. That must have been before we had cars because we travelled there by bus and one Saturday night we missed the last bus and had to walk all the way home from Boston Spa to Leeds. Renee Johnson held court there sometimes augmented by her husband and her sister. Renee was a great act with her risqué little ditties: ‘Caviar comes from the virgin sturgeon The virgin sturgeon. is a very fine fish’. Later she regaled us again at the Crooked Billet in Stourton and even later I believe in Allerton by Water.
My third favourite was: The White Horse on York Road. They held weekly talent nights there and there was a cash prize for the winner. There was one guy who was on every week he sang ‘Dalila’ he would stab himself with an imaginary knife and then throw himself all over the stage in imaginary his death throes, we would cheer him and sing along with him but I don’t think he ever won the prize money.
Some pubs put on ‘turns’ of these there were many but I’ll just put on four who I particularly remember: The Johnson Brothers, Ronnie Dukes and Ricky Lee, Harry Benden and Jonny Joyce.
Apart from the pubs which attracted us for the music there were other pubs that just became popular, particularly on Thursday nights because they jammed both the sexes in together. A couple of these were: The Star and Garter in Kirkstall and particularly The Cherry Tree in Burmantofts. I remember one particular night in The Cherry Tree the place was heaving and the great Billy Bremner had got himself in a position where he was holding the toilet door open for a never ending flow of folk to get in and out he was stuck there and guys were cheering him on, he just took it all in good part laughing and saying it looks like I’m going to be stuck here all night.
I’ll just mention a few more of my favourite pubs I’m sure anyone who reads this will be able to add names, there were hundreds of them: The Slip, The Gardeners at Lofthouse, The Haddon Hall, The Beehive at Thorner, The Queens at Micklestown, The Malt Shovel at Armley, The FForde Greene, The Adelphi near Leeds Bridge, The Peacock at Horsforth (Wallace Family) The Stanhope, The Dynley arms on Pool Bank, The Cavalier on Richmond Hill a great pub for Irish songs and an old guy who used to get up every week and sing, ’The laughing Policeman’, he had us all in stitches: The Plasterers, The Skinners on Regent Street where old guys would get up and do Irish dancing with a straight face and arms by their sides. There was a pub half way up Meanwood Road, I can’t recall its name now but it had green tiles outside, we went in there one night and a guy was singing an Irish song it must have had a hundred verses he was singing it when we went in he was still singing the same song when we left. I made a joke to my mates that I went in a couple of nights later and he was still on with the same song. The Beckets Arms and the Meanwood were pubs we would visit as a prelude to the Capital Ballroom. The Bingley Arms claimed to be the oldest pub in England, The Arabian Horse and the Swan at Aberford, The Gascoigne at barwick, The New Inn, Scarcroft
Connoisseurs were prone to travelling to pubs who stocked their favourite beers: Tetley’s, John Smith’s, Sam Smith’s, Theakston’s, and before the amalgamation by the giant breweries: Bentley’s Hemmingway, and Melbourne’s etc. Tetley’s was supposed to be the Yorkshire man’s drink. In August when Leeds virtually encamped in Blackpool folk would say: ‘Meet you in the Huntsman, The Huntsman stocked Tetley’s.
Then there were the pubs which were just a nice little run out to on a summers evening: The Windmill at Linton. The Wellington at East Keswick, Boot and Shoe at Tadcaster, another Boot and Shoe on the Selby Road The Crooked Billet near the Lead Church, The Greyhound close to Tadcaster, The Kings Arms at Heath Common, The Scott’s Arms at Sicklinghall, Dick Hutson’s and The Royalty and The Sun up on the moors, Fenton Flier at Church Fenton, The New Inn near Eccup and The New in near Harrogate, The Harewood Arms, The Wild Man and The Buckles Inn on the Leeds /York Road, The Star at Collingham. The Chequers at Leadsham (no Sunday Licence) The White Horse at Ledston, The Fox and Hounds at Bramhope, The Anchor Inn at Whixley, The Queen of Old Thatch at South Milford, The Unicorn at Carlton, The New Inn now Squires (biker’s Café) near Sherbourne, The Anchor at Whixley, The Bull at Kirk Hammerton The Alice Hawthorne at Nun Moncton, The Beulah on Tong Road, I could go on forever, almost every village had a great pub, but now I fear that in the present day they survive more by the sale of food that that of beer.
And then of course there were ‘The runs: The Westgate run in Wakefield, the Tadcaster run, The Wetherby run, The Otley run, The Richmond Hill run and of course all the City Centre pubs. Apologies if I have left out your favourite pubs. Unfortunately for us oldies those pubs are passed their sell by date. How many are still left? It was a golden age and like all golden ages it was over before we knew it had begun. But ‘We supped some stuff’ didn’t we.
Now unfortunately if I ‘sup any stuff’ at all, I’m laid awake half the night! But we had our great times, didn’t we?

17 Responses to “Before there were Clubs we had lively Pubs”

  1. Doug Farnill Says:

    Thanks Peter, what an inventory of places where you could sup a pint and hear some music. It leaves me feeling that I’ve missed out. I left for Oz in late 1952 and had little opportunity to be part of all that was so obviously enjoyable to you all. Here in Oz, in those days, drinking was not so much fun. The pubs closed at 6pm, and the hour between knocking off work and the pub closing was a desperate time to fit in as many schooners and middies as possible. But didn’t The Black Dog, and The Fisherman`s Arms play some kind of part in all this, or were they for the really old oldies?

  2. Eric Says:

    A great trip down Memory Lane here Pete. I know almost all the places you mention & our crew also once missed the last bus to Leeds from Boston Spa. I seem to remember it was the old red West Yorks buses which ran that service. In those days , “time” was called later in those places outside of Leeds & if you didn’t leave the Royal bang on time, you missed the last bus .On the said hike back to Leeds , somewhere around the Old Coal Rd , one of our group said he’d had enough ( I fairly sure it was John Gibbins) , slumped down & stayed the night there. At least it was summertime & he obviously survived the ordeal.
    Your right about the slow impact of the drink’n’drive laws , it was quite common for many to down & few pints & drive afterwards , although the roads were far less congested & cars weren’t fast as they are nowadays .
    Like you say , many of those establishments are long gone but , we visit Boston Spa quite regularly & The Royal is still in business.
    If my recollection is correct , wasn’t Renee Johnson from the same family as the Johnson Bros , who were resident at the “Slip” for many years.
    Anyway, a very enjoyable tale , well told, Pete

  3. Says:

    By heck Pete, you know a few pubs, how do you manage to remember them all. You didn’t mention The Woodman on Dewsbury a Road or the Red Lion at Stourton ! ?

    Enjoyed the Stepping stones tale too but I had seen this earlier, may have been attached to something else, not sure.

    Have a good weekend. I’m recovering after the dog sitting.

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Wow Pete you know some Pubs, I was just thinking back to York Road from Quarry Hill Flats, there was the Woodpecker, (the one built after the bombing), The Hope Inn at the start of Pontefract Lane, which I think is still there, then there was the the Victoria Arms, a little Pub sold Duttons Beers as I remember on the corner of Freehold Street and York Road, then we came up to the Spread Eagle on the junction of Torre Road and Lupton Avenue, then the White Horse, The Shaftsbury Hotel, our local when we were young, then the Dog and Gun, The Melbourne and The Travellers, and your at the terminus of the No.18 Tram at Crossgates. It brings back a lot of memories Pete, can’t believe we never crossed paths I’ve been in lots of the Pubs you mention, I remember walking back home from the Royal at Boston Spa on more than one occasion. I recall the first pint I had on my 18th birthday it was at the White Horse in York Road, Hemingway’s Bitter it tasted awful but it didn’t put me off. Just after the war my Mum and Dad would walk to The White Horse in York Road there was a small yard at the rear of the Pub with a couple of tables, and Dad would have a pint Mum would have a half my sister and I would have a Portello, then we’d wander back to Devon Street and it was time for my bed. In later years before National Service, every Thursday night my Dad, Brother in law Roy myself and Uncle Fred, would have a night out in Tadcaster, Smiths Ales of course, Uncle Fred and Dad would play 5’s and 3’s and Roy and I would play Darts, I remember once there was a severe storm when we were coming home, and Roy and I had to walk in front of the car, because visibility was so bad, but we all got home safe and sound in the early hours. Thanks for recalling those happy memories for me Pete, I’m the only one left from that little band.

  5. peterwwood Says:

    Thanks for your coments, Doug, Eric, Elaine and Eddie. It seems like everyone and his dog has had to walk home from Boston Spa. I recall that pub got so full they had to turn people away and the other less fashionable pubs got the benefir, I remember one called: The Admiral Hawk. The last time I was in Boston Spa The Royal was a mini supermarket.
    Well done. for even remembering the Black Dog and The Fish Hut, Doug after 70 years. I did mention those two in the blog on the East Leeds Pub Run so I didn’t think folk would want to read about them again. Funnily enough I passed The Fish Hut yesterday it is now a plush block of flats still in the same building with the date 1929 over the door but with big gold letters ‘Ellerby House’
    I missed ‘The Woodman’ Elaine’ Tommy Wass and The Broadway were the ones I remember on Dewsbury Road but I remember ‘The ‘Red Bear’ near the Crooked Billet it was the headquaters of The Bison’s rugby team.
    Great memories guys keep taking the memory pills,

  6. peterwwood Says:

    Elaine, I have just remembered where ‘The Woodman’ was. I believe it was furthet up Dewsbury Road on the right just passed where the Ring Raod slips off at the start of the long straight ? Will e-mail you on Wednesday

  7. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Strange you should mention the Admiral Hawk at Boston Spa Pete, before I was born my Mum and Dad had a tandem bicycle with a Watsonian sidecar my sister rode in when she was little, they used to go camping for weekends and bank holidays in a field adjacent to the Admiral Hawk at Boston Spa, they had fond memories of the Pub and the river, and would talk it in later years. I also remember customers been turned away from the Royal, it was a busy Pub and you had to be thee early if you wanted a seat. I’ve been trying to place another couple of Pubs in the York Road area, one was the Accommodation Inn which was more like a house opposite Shannon Street, and the other was the Abercrombie further down on York Road, I recall as a boy my Dad would call for a pint in there when we were returning home with Dart Board materials from Marsh lane, he used to make Dart Boards for the local Pubs, all doubles boards in those days made by hand from oak trunk sections and galvanised wire and staples, I had to make the numbers and remember where they went the sections had to be soaked in water for a week before we could work on them.

  8. Eric Says:

    l think you’re correct Pete. What was The Royal is now a mini supermarket & I must have confused it with the pub a little further up the High St near the church. Oh well, it was 60 or more years ago. There’s another pub a little further down the High St, past the library going towards Tadcaster which I think is The Admiral Hawk

  9. Eric Says:

    Eddie , I think there was also another pub alongside the Abercrombie called The Providence. Most of the housing etc around them had been demolished by the time I remember it & both pubs stood out ,on a slight rise , against the skyline. Certainly one of them, if not both, were Tetley houses & The Huntsman sign was very prominent , easily seen from the tramcars running up & down York Rd. Just a guess but I would think they were demolished in the early 50’s

  10. Mark Wilson Says:

    Wonderful memories of great things. Strangely enough, in my recent experience, the two places that have managed to retain their proper pubs, are Manchester and London! You won’t find any working class people in the London pubs; as we know, the working class and its strengths and vigour have been abolished By Order of virtually every government since 1979.

    I think the Ship and the Angel in town (and any Sam Smiths pub for that matter) do their best. I would also nominate the Junction in Otley.

  11. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Thanks Eric, now you’ve mentioned it I do recall the name Providence, but I don’t recall where it was, I’m sure my Dad would have know, and tried it. He enjoyed a pint bless him. We lived off Pontefract Lane in those days, near Lavender Walk, and we always walked down into town via Railway Street or Shannon Street, can’t believe I don’t recall where the Providence was, I remember the Huntsman’s sign, but didn’t associate it with two Pubs. The number of times I’ve walked down there to go to Quarry Hill Flats, just goes to show I must have had my eyes closed…lol.

  12. peterwwood Says:

    Accommodation Road carried on across York road to Becket Street
    and just across York Road on the left there was another pub, it had OBJ painted on the gable end I think it was a Dutton’s pub and the name I think began with ‘S’ like the ‘Speedwell’ or something like that any one remember that? Also that huge shell of York Road Board school about three stories high just a bit further down on the other side to the Hope Inn. And I heard the tale of a school inspector who would go into a classroom and offer half a crown to any child who could spell accommodation correctly. So I learned to spell it as you can see, but he never came into our classroom.

  13. Eric Says:

    It’s odd how recollections sometimes come back in dribs & drabs.
    Re Eddie’sYork Rd sojourn , I seem to remember another pub on the lower part of YR. It was located approx. between the old Hemingway brewery & York Rd baths but on the other side of the road.
    Not totally sure but I think it was called The Greyhound.
    The Providence Eddie, was very close to the Abercrombie & both located approx. 200m in from both York Rd & Burmantofts.
    The Tetley Huntsman sign was very prominent (not quite sure on which one) as it was painted on the gable end of one of them .

  14. Eric Says:

    Pete, you’re quite correct , a recent recce in Boston Spa revealed the pub I confused with the Royal , is in fact The Crown , an equally big establishment but which looks as though that may have now closed it’s doors. The Royal , as you said is a mini market with apartments overhead but the building dates to 1776.
    Further down the High St , The Admiral Hawke also looks to have finished but the Fox & Hounds still looks to be in business.

  15. peterwwood Says:

    Sorry to announce the sad news of the passing of one of our old stalwarts: Eric Allen this morning 16th June. In St Jamess’ hospital

    Sorry my e-mail is not working but I can be contacted on
    0113 2826784

  16. Keith Nicholson Says:

    Keith Nicholson says:
    What an insight into the pubs with “turns”. Mention of the Johnson Brothers (Terry and Geoff) brought back memories of when my Agency represented them as solo Acts and I became big pals with them. Another well known Act was the Peter Hurley Trio who I saw at my then local, Tommy Wass (Brian Shaw, the RL Player was the landlord then) and the Honeycombs who I seemed to watch at the Haddon Hall. I used to catch the West Yorkshire ‘bus to the Wild Man and watch Gerry B and the Rockerfellers. The front man was Dustin Gee who I later worked (as an Agent) many times before he became “famous” and tragically died so young.

    Ronnie Dukes and Ricky Lee I saw numerous times at the Ace of Clubs, Leeds. Like Dustin, a great act taken away from us far too early. Ronnie is buried at Cawthorne Cemetery, Nr Barnsley and I visit his grave every two years when we attend the “Open Gardens” weekend.

  17. Graham Spink, Canada Says:

    I remember Harry Benden, he lived up the road from me in Farnley. He would regularly get the Sammy Legard bus into the city centre. He was always a comic, singing songs, both at the bus stop, and on the bus journey. He would sometime carry his accordion, and then the things would take off at the bus stop.

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