06 Historic Pubs of Kirkgate

The sixth in our series of ‘Discover Wakefield’ leaflets looks at the pubs that stood (and in some cases, still stand) along Kirkgate – and there are a surprising number! The leaflet picks out just 11 of the pubs (including hotels and inns) but, scroll down to read about some of the others not listed in the leaflet.

Much of the content in the leaflet is based on research by Kev and Phil Grundy. The illustrations were commissioned by the Society from Wakefield graphic design company, Rhubarb Design House and are inspired by old photographs and drawings of Wakefield street scenes. We say ‘inspired by’ because most of these old photographs and drawings were in black and white and we had to guess at what some of the colours might have been. We therefore make no guarantees as to the colours used in our illustrations reflecting the actual buildings. Colours, as they say, may vary.

The first 11 …

We start our perambulation (posh word for a walk) in Upper Kirkgate where Waterstones is today and walk all the way down to Halfords, just before the railway bridge, keeping on the same side of the road. We then cross Kirkgate and return to the Cathedral precinct walking up the other side of the road.

You can download a copy of the leaflet here.

1, The George Hotel

The George Hotel

This former coaching in stood on the site where Waterstones is today. The hotel was one of
Wakefield’s larger coaching inns, dating from around 1790. It stood on a long plot extending down Southgate with stables and and coach houses. It was demolished in 1955 as
part of the widening of Kirkgate.

2. The Bull and Mouth

The Bull and Mouth

Walk a little farther down Kirkgate, to the junction of Almshouse Lane and, until 1956, you would have been able to pop into the Bull and Mouth for a swift half. Another establishment – the Sandars Hotel previously occupied the site – it’s not clear whether it was the building illustrated or an earlier one – but it dated back to around 1790 once again.

3. The Beehive

The first Beehive

You don’t have to walk much further to find the site of the former Beehive pub. The building in our illustration dated from 1827 but was demolished in the 1950s when Kirkgate was widened (it used to be much narrower than it is today and all the buildings on the south side of Upper Kirkgate were either demolished or remodelled at some point).

The new Beehive, not illustrated occupied a rather narrow plot, but one which reached back to the street behind, once an extension of Almshouse Lane but today known as All Saints Yard. At the ‘rear’ of the building was another bar, at one time the Balmoral Bar, later the Speakeasy, albeit all part of the same establishment.

Today, the entrance in Upper Kirkgate takes you into a wool shop – Wool N Stuff.

4. The Dewsbury Arms/ The King Edward VII

The King Edward VII, previously the Dewsbury Arms

Down at the bottom of Kirkgate, standing right next to the ‘Eastwood building’ stands this former pub, now a pizza restaurant. In 1860, this was known as the Dewsbury Arms but at some point, possibly to coincide with the accession of King Edward VII in 1901. The building continued as a pub until 1930 but was then used for a variety of purposes, including as a Polish restaurant, Duchniak’s, from 2014 to 2020.

5. The Old Ship Inn

The Old Ship

Next door to the King Edward VII, but divided by a narrow yard entrance, stood the Old Ship Inn, later the Old Ship Hotel. Dating from 1818, the building survived until 1964 when it too was demolished as part of a clearance scheme. Today, the site of the former pub is part of a pay and display car park.

6. The Bridge Hotel

The Bridge Hotel

Snuggling right up against the railway bridge, on the site where Halfords is today, stood the Bridge Hotel. It opened in 1830 and survived until its demolition in 1980.

7. The Grey Horse

The Grey Horse

Crossing Lower Kirkgate just in front of the railway bridge, we come to the Grey Horse. The building shows up on maps from the mid 19th century and the pub is thought to date from 1853. Originally, as well as the central entrance onto Kirkgate which remains today, there was also a doorway on the right-hand corner, at a 45-degree angle across the corner of the building. The pub is now closed and has been acquired by a developer although the future use is unclear at the time of writing.

8. The Wakefield Arms

The Wakefield Arms

Strictly speaking, this pub isn’t on Kirkgate but off Kirkgate. However, given its history, we felt it would be remiss not to feature it in our tour.

The building is remarkable as it is the oldest known surviving building finished in Portland Cement, which was invented at the cement works of Joseph Aspdin that used to stand on the site of Kirkgate Station (the works later moved to Ings Road when the railway came through. The pub opened in 1843 and continued as a pub until around 20 years ago when it fell into dereliction after a failed attempt at conversion into a restaurant followed by a fire. It has recently been converted into flats.

9. The Crown and Anchor

The Crown and Anchor

Walking back up to the city centre, at one time you would have come across the Crown and Anchor. Dating from 1818, the building stood more or less where the round about is today. In fact, it was clearing the area for redevelopment in 1970s that was to see the pub close in 1969 shortly before its demolition.

10. The Harewood Arms

The first Harewood Arms

The Harewood Arms we know today is in fact a replacement dating from 1907 for an earlier building that occupied the site from 1828. It stood head and shoulders above its neighbours and was the tallest building in this part of Lower Kirkgate.

11. The Old King’s Arms

The Old King’s Arms

Our final pub brings almost back to our starting point. Walking up the Cathedral precinct to the junction of Upper Kirkgate and Teall Street and here you will find the site of the former Old King’s Arms pub. The building ceased to be a pub towards the end of the 19th century (a map of 1888 shows it as a shop by that time) and it had certainly been demolished by the turn of the century.

However, the name of the Old King’s Arms made a reappearance in another pub at the bottom of Kirkgate, just after the railway bridge (near the entrance to Caldervale Road). Today, a modern building stands on the site, currently used as a gym, but the coat of arms from the earlier pub is incorporated into the modern façade.

That concludes the tour as described in our leaflet. However, as explained above, there are many more pubs that could have featured if space had allowed.

Let’s go back to the George Hotel and start again, listing the pubs you would have seen at one time or another in the order you would have encountered them. Bear in mind that names change over time not all these pubs were in operation at the same time – pubs, like all else in life, come and go.

A map will follow as soon as we have it ready

Upper Kirkgate, south side

1. The George Hotel

2. Golden Lion Hotel (closed Nov 1934 – making way for new shops)

3, Manor House Inn

4. Sandars Hotel (later the Bull and Mouth Hotel)

5. Beehive Hotel

Lower Kirkgate – west side

6. The Rose Inn

7. British Oak Hotel

8. Double Six

9. The Criterion

10. The Wellington Inn

11. The Spotted Leopard

12. The King Edward VII

13. The Old Ship Inn

14. The Bridge Hotel – just before the railway bridge

15. Crown Hotel – just after the railway bridge

At Bridge End, at the very end of Kirkgate, and standing in the middle of the road:

16. The White Bear

Coming back up Lower Kirkgate, on the east side, starting from Chantry Bridge:

17. The Old Dusty Miller Inn

18. The White Swan

19. The Old King’s Arms

Above the railway bridge:

20. The Grey Horse

21. No. 1 Vaults

22. Crown and Anchor

23. The Wheatsheaf

24. The Harewood Arms

25. The Dolphin/ The New Dolphin/The Wakey Tavern

Upper Kirkgate – north side

26. The Dog and Gun

27. The London Hotel

28. The Old King’s Arms

If you know of any others, do let us know!