Iconic Leeds pub receives second-highest historic protection status

A historic pub has been given the second highest possible protection due to its historical significance as an upscale Victorian ‘lunch bar’.

Whitelock’s Ale House, which is tucked away in a lane in Leeds city centre, has been upgraded to Tier II* by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on advice from Historic England , part of a project to help save rare historic pub interiors.

Grade II* status means it is among the 5.8% of protected historic buildings in England.

Whitelock’s Ale House, Leeds (Historic England/PA)

Historic England said Whitelock’s is one of the finest examples of a late 19th century upmarket bar.

He said the pub was described by Sir John Betjeman as “the very heart of Leeds” and has been frequented by celebrities over the years, becoming a favorite of Peter O’Toole and Dame Margot Fonteyn.

It retains its 1895 interior design scheme and a host of high quality features including stained glass windows and a rare ceramic bar counter.

Whitelock’s is close to another Grade II* listed building, the City Varieties music hall – home to the long-running BBC TV show The Good Old Days – which has gained a reputation as the social and cultural hub of Leeds.

It is joined by another Victorian pub – the Prince Alfred in Maida Vale, London – which has also been upgraded to Grade II*.

Prince Alfred, Maida Vale, London (Historic England/PA)

Historic England described Prince Alfred as “one of the finest examples of city pubs of its day”.

He said the bar, which dates to the height of the pub boom in the 1890s, has plush fixtures and exceptionally well-preserved cubicles that radiate elaborate peninsula service, divided by ornate screens.

Prince Alfred’s original set of ‘posh screens’ at the Ladies Bar was designed to give privacy to women ordering at the bar and is described as ‘extraordinarily rare’.

Historic England has also announced two new listings of pubs in London. These are the Grade II Blythe Hill Tavern and another interwar pub, the Admiral Vernon in Dagenham.

Prince Alfred, Maida Vale, London (Historic England/PA)

The Admiral Vernon was built to service the Becontree estate, one of the largest municipal estates of the time, and its interior is much as it was when its first customers passed through its doors in the 1930s .

The list of pubs has been brought to you by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) Pub Heritage Group, as part of a collaboration with Historic England to protect historic pubs.

Duncan Wilson, Managing Director of Historic England, said: “At a time when many historic pubs in England are subject to change or at risk of closing, we are happy to celebrate pubs that have retained their remarkable interiors.

“These rare interiors help tell the fascinating story of pubs over the centuries and how they reflected society. From the celebrity haunting Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds to Prince Alfred in London with his ‘posh screens’, they all fully deserve the protection offered by registration.

Paul Ainsworth, chairman of Camra’s Pub Heritage Group, said: “Times are tough for all pubs at the moment, including those with significant historic interiors. The more protection they can receive, the better.

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