Background: Leeds city council yesterday evening attempted to prevent women meeting to discuss proposed legal changes which significantly compromise women’s rights. This is part of an ongoing pattern of misogyny in British politics, and particularly in Leeds, which city is famous for its mistreatment of women.
Undefeated, the women repaired to a pub around the corner, The Victoria Hotel. They supported our right to democratic assembly, and the meeting went ahead. In gratitude I went into town today to visit the pub and say thanks. And I couldn’t believe what I found when I went through the doors. So I’m going to write about them so other women can see what a great pub it is (it used to be a hotel, hence the name, but no longer rents its bedrooms). And also because it is a living example of how ordinary people can unite together to protect what is important, and we all need inspiration in these dark times.
So, I’d love to write about the history, when it was built (1865), when it opened, who has owned it, events that have happened here, etc. Amazingly there is very little information available online. This article in the Yorkshire Evening Post is very interesting and mentions the rumoured tunnel between the pub and the law courts opposite to allow judges to come over during the day unseen. It also tells how the building was under threat of demolition in 1973 but a campaign by local people saved it.
So I will just post the photos I took, assure you that they don’t do it justice because they don’t show how bright and clean the interiors are, with all the mirrors and glass and brass sparkling, and say the staff and customers who seemed like regulars and had a nice vibe and a nice mix of people were really cool and friendly and didn’t at all mind me wandering around taking photos. And say “Thank you” again. If I ever need a venue for a wedding reception in Leeds city centre (which is, admittedly, extremely unlikely) you will be top of my list.
Thé bar is very fine, with dark carved wood and stained glass with an Art Deco feel. It’s also well stocked. The selection of beer in particular seems admirable although I didn’t stop for a drink this time.
The brass rails along the bar have these amazing elephant head brackets.
I asked if dogs were allowed and they said yes if no one minds which I think is a very sensible policy. There were a couple of families in the bar and the kids seemed to feel happy and free there.
In the main bar, seating is in these booths, which are absolutely fabulous. It’s like being in thé moulin rouge. Like an art gallery you can sit in. Amazing.
The lighting is amazing and glamorous, which makes the bar sexy as well as friendly. I bet it really comes into its own in the winter. Can you imagine all that sparking glass and brass with the twinkling lights and the fires lit (and a pint of stout)? It must be gorgeous.
There are two lounges as well as the bar, so plenty of different spaces for different sized groups and places to eat.
The door furniture is especially lovely throughout
There’s also some very fetching portraits of Queenie
And two cozy fireplace seats And : a proper traditional pub carpet. Very fine example of the genre.
Im going to get a bit arty to conclude, because I feel genuinely moved by the contrast between the fascism and misogyny of Leeds City Council, and the years of talent and craft and care that have clearly gone into this beautiful people’s palace right next door.
Here is how I feel about the two different venues: Leeds city council, and The Victoria Hotel, represented in the form of self portraits.
The first I am calling “Barred”. It is me at the (gated) doors of the city council building where they cancelled our meeting yesterday.
The second is called “Pull.Pull” and it is me at the door of the Victoria Hotel.
Thank you for reading! If you are in Leeds city centre and you need a pleasant place for a pint, or some lunch, I recommend The Victoria Hotel on Great George Street. Trip advisor reviews here.