Described by Sir John Betjeman as ‘the real heart of Leeds’, Whitelock’s Ale House is one of 11 famous pubs to be awarded Class II* World Heritage status on the advice of Historic England
Special pubs across England have been given new protection status to prevent them from being converted into flats.
Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds city center is one of 11 famous pubs to be awarded Class II* World Heritage status on the advice of Historic England.
Described by poet Sir John Betjeman as ‘the heart of Leeds’, the 19th-century building has become a celebrity hotspot over the years.
Famous regulars included Lawrence of Arabia actor Peter O’Toole, ballerina Margot Fonteyn and Mirror columnist the late Keith Waterhouse, who wrote Billy Liar.
Legend has it that even JRR Tolkien was inspired by the pub and wrote poetry in the bar behind a busy West Yorkshire shopping street.
General Manager Beth Templeton, who worked for nine years at the ‘special’ pub established in 1715, explained how the current interior was created in 1895.
“We are incredibly proud to receive this new listing, it’s great for us, just fantastic,” she told the Mirror.
“It’s great that Historic England is doing such a great job of recognizing the importance of inns.
Pubs are such a part of the community and people’s daily lives.
“Everyone is really excited and excited about us. We have a strong community here, many regular guests and their families have been coming here for years.
“There are many stories of famous people who have seen here. Peter O’Toole, Keith Waterhouse, the novelist.
“According to legend, JRR Tolkien came here and wrote poetry. He used to teach at the university. There are some poems he wrote about pubs and taverns and it’s nice to think we were an inspiration to him.”
When asked what makes it so special, she added: “We are just meters from a busy British shopping street that has a very strong 20th century touch.
“But going down a few steps down a Ginnel takes you back in time.”
Joining Whitelock’s is another Victorian pub – the Prince Alfred in Maida Vale, north-west London – which has described historic England as “one of the finest examples of urban pubs of its time”.
The two pubs are now in the top 5.8% of listed buildings in England, joining buildings such as the Old Bailey and other internationally renowned buildings.
South East London’s rare Victorian corner pub, the Blythe Hill Tavern in Forest Hill is now a Grade II building, as is the interwar Admiral Vernon pub in Dagenham.
Another seven already protected boozers have updated their listings to reflect their historic interiors.
These include the Red Lion in Mayfair, in central London, the Harrow Inn, Petersfield and Steventon’s North Star Inn.
Paul Ainsworth, Chair of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said: “Times are tough for all pubs right now, including those with significant historic interiors. The more protection they can get, the better.”
Duncan Wilson, Managing Director of Historic England, added: “At a time when many historic pubs in England are vulnerable to change or may be subject to closure, we are delighted to celebrate pubs that have retained their remarkable interiors.
“These rare interiors tell the fascinating story of pubs through the ages and how they reflected society.
“From Whitelock’s Ale House, frequented by celebrities, to the Prince Alfred in London with its ‘snob screens’, they all deserve the protection afforded by listing.”
The announcement comes just weeks after CAMRA released its 2021 pub closures statistics.
According to the figures, 290 pubs have been demolished or converted across the UK – an average of just over five a week.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/special-pubs-given-protection-status-27245868 Special pubs are given protection status to ensure they are not converted into apartments