A historic pub interior of national importance
This pub is currently closed (since 23/03/2020)
Listed Status: II*3 Whitfield Place
Tel: (0113) 473 2606
Real Ale: Yes
Public Transport: Near Bus Stop
View on: Whatpub
Hard to find but well worth it since this is probably the jewel in the crown of historic pub architecture in Yorkshire. The Garden Gate is an amazing treasure trove of Edwardian decorative design. Apart from the loss of its original off-sales (on the right), the layout and internal fittings are virtually untouched since 1902–3 when it was rebuilt for a private owner under Stourton architect W. Mason Coggill. It has a relatively traditional small-pub layout with a central through-corridor, a counter in the vaults (front left), and hatch service to the rear left room and corridor, plus a couple of separate rooms on the right. The decoration is resplendent both inside and out and rivals almost any great city ‘drinking palaces’ of the period. Its riches include etched glass with Art Nouveau motifs, lavish tiling, mosaic floors, moulded plasterwork and ornate mahogany fitments. The undoubted highlight is the vaults, a tour de force of the decorative tiler’s art and centering on a magnificent curved ceramic bar-counter – almost certainly a product of Burmantofts of Leeds. It is a sobering thought that, but for action by enlightened local protesters in the early 1970s, this superb pub would have been lost forever to an urban clearance scheme. Positive developments in 2010 were its upgrading to Grade II* listing, following a successful application by CAMRA, and its acquisition by the local Leeds Brewery.
Narrowly saved from demolition in 1972 when the entire surrounding area was cleared, the Garden Gate is a treasure house of turn-of-century decorative design - virtually unaltered since it was built in 1903 (though the small tower brewery that once stood at the back is long gone). It is described in its statutory listing as combining "the plan of a small late Victorian/ Edwardian public house (counter in the vault, hatchways to other rooms) with a decorative treatment which rivals that of much larger city centre 'gin palaces' of the period".
It indeed has a simple traditional layout but a wealth of internal riches that include lavish tiling, faïence and etched glass with art nouveau motifs, mosaic floors, moulded plasterwork and ornate mahogany fitments. All the glazed ceramic work, used to such wonderful effect inside and out, would have come from the Leeds Fireclay Company and another local firm, J Claughton of Hunslet, had a major hand in the internal furnishing (clearly evidenced by their maker's plaque on the fitted seating of the rear left Smoke Room). The Garden Gate passed into Tetley's ownership in 1964 and was made one of their very first 'Heritage Inns' for its outstanding historic interest.
The frontage is extensively clad with ornate ceramic work. The layout has a central corridor, served by hatch from the Vaults, and is flanked by glazed wooden screen walls and to the right are two lounges or saloons. The front door leads to a porch with a ‘Garden Gate’ mosaic floor and floor to ceiling tiling in green and cream. Double doors have 'Garden' and 'Gate' deep etched and frosted panels in them. The central corridor also has a mosaic floor and tiling on the walls. The partition walls on the left have an excellent display of etched and frosted glass panels.
The jewel in the entire crown is the Vaults on the left, which is a veritable tour de force of the decorative tiler's art. Through the door with an Edwardian etched glass ‘Vaults’ panel you find floor to ceiling tiling in cream, green and yellows, topped by a decorative frieze. The floor is completely covered in mosaic and there is a fine moulded ceiling. The room is dominated by a magnificent curved ceramic bar counter – one of only fourteen remaining in the whole of the UK - and an equally rare ceramic green Edwardian fireplace. Other Heritage Pubs with a ceramic bar counter are the Black Horse, Preston, Lancashire; Burlingtons Bar (at the Town House), St Annes on Sea, Lancashire; Mountain Daisy, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear; Red Lion, Erdington, Birmingham; Polar Bear, Hull, East Yorkshire; White Hart Hotel, Hull, East Yorkshire; Golden Cross, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales; Crown, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Other examples can be found at Horse & Jockey, Wednesbury, West Midlands where a small part on the left has been lost; Castle, Manchester City Centre; Hark to Towler, Tottington, Greater Manchester where the bar has been moved; Waterloo Hotel & Bistro, Newport, Gwent, Wales which has no public bar facility; and there is one in China Red which was the Coach & Horses, Dunswell, East Yorks and now operates as a Chinese Restaurant.
The servery has an ornate mahogany bar-back fitting with mirrored panels and a drawer. Original leatherette fixed bench seating remains as does two good baffles by the door with decorative etched and frosted panels in the top.
The Tap Room on front right is wedge shaped at street end and has 'Tap Room' in decorative etched and frosted glass on the door