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Coaching Inns

In the eighteenth century Leeds became a major coaching centre, and coaches ran from the inns and yards of Briggate to towns and cities all over the country.  Among the most important of these were the Old King's Arms, the Rose and Crown, the Bull and Mouth, and the Royal Hotel.

Old Kings Arms
Situated on the east side of Briggate, opposite the junction with Boar Lane, this was the earliest coaching inn in Leeds. Originally it was the house of John Harrison the seventeenth century Leeds benefactor. When Harrison died it was converted into shops, and later became the King's Arms Tavern. It was important as a meeting place for the trustees of the turnpike roads, and magistrates courts were held there.
On 19th May 1760 the first regular coach service between Leeds and London ran from the Old King's Arms to the Swan with two Necks in London. The coaches were advertised as 'flying machines on steel springs', and the journey took four days. In 1785 the Leeds Royal Mail to London began operating from this inn, leaving Leeds at four in the morning, and arriving in London the next day, the journey taking about thirty hours. An advertisement gives details of arrival and departure times, and the fares charged for the journey to London. In 1813 the Old King's Arms closed as an inn, but was used as the offices of the Leeds Mercury, until it was demolished when Duncan Street was widened in 1904.

Rose and Crown
Situated on the west side of Briggate, behind the shambles the Rose and Crown was an ancient inn which became one of the most important coaching inns in Briggate. The inn also had a cock-pit, and cock fights were regularly advertised in the Leeds Intelligencer.

There was a coach 'the Defiance' running from here to Hull in 1783, and 'the Diligence' ran between Leeds and Liverpool. The most important part of the Rose and Crown's coaching business was the running of the mail coaches for York, Sheffield, Scarborough, Manchester and Liverpool.
The Rose and Crown became notorious in November 1831 when a package which had been put on the Edinburgh coach was seized by police. It was addressed to Mr. Ben Thomson, Mail Office Edinburgh, and it contained the body of Robert Hudson, which had been exhumed by bodysnatchers from the churchyard at East Ardsley. They were attempting to send it to a surgeon in Edinburgh. The inn was demolished in 1888-89 and the Queen's Arcade was built on the site.

Bull and Mouth
The Bull and Mouth, on the east side of Briggate mid-way between Kirkgate and Duncan Street, was at first a centre for heavy baggage wagons; as the picture shows the archway was originally much wider to accommodate the huge wagons. It became a coaching inn in 1800, and the Loyal Duncan was the first coach to run from here. It soon became one of the busiest coaching inns in Leeds, and had standing room for thirty horses in the cellar stables. The 'True Briton' left from here every morning at 10 o'clock for Manchester, where it arrived at 6.30 in the evening. In 1903 it became the Grand Central Hotel, and in 1921 the name was changed again to the Victory Hotel. It closed in 1939.

Royal Hotel
Built in 1692 this was first known as the New King's Arms.  Like the Bull and Mouth the inn had cellar stables approached by a sloping alleyway from the yard. The stables were surprisingly roomy and well-ventilated, and could accommodate about 18 horses. The first coaches ran from here in 1765, and in 1834 when the Royal Mail coaches used it, the name was changed to the Royal Hotel.  When the North Midland Railway opened in 1840, the mail coaches stopped running. The building was re-developed in 1979,by the Yorkshire Metropolitan Housing Association as Regent Court, a development of single- person flats.












Click images to enlarge
Notice of coach times
Notice of coach times
Old King's Arms
Old King's Arms
Intelligencer, Tuesday October 9th 1764
Intelligencer, Tuesday October 9th 1764
Entrance to the Rose and Crown Yard
Entrance to the Rose and Crown Yard
Bull and Mouth Hotel
Bull and Mouth Hotel
Royal Hotel, 1908
Royal Hotel, 1908




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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003