c1900. View of the luncheon bar at the Mitre Hotel. On the left can be seen equipment for making tea and coffee, and in the centre is a stand full of pies, with the sign "hot and cold pies", and a long case clock. On the right are barrels, beer pumps, and glasses. Above is the ornate ceiling and decorative lamps.
The Mitre Hotel, was located at 46 Commercial Street, between Commercial Street and Turk’s Head Yard, near the junction with Briggate. It was previously known as the Horse and Jockey, with a history dating back to 1774. It was bought in 1888 by Henry Child, who rebuilt it as The Mitre. There were several alterations between 1888 and 1907, including the bar moving to the basement, accessed by steps at street level. Henry Child’s eldest son, Harry, owed the business until 1947, when he sold it to Joshua Tetley and Son. The Mitre remained mostly unchanged for 50 years, and was said to be the nearest equivalent in Leeds to a London chop-house. It was also well known for the head waiter, Ettore Martelli, who worked there for 40 years until his retirement in 1950. The hotel closed in 1961 after expiry of the lease on the property, which was owned by the Great Universal Stores group.
Although pictured here circa 1900, the bar of the Mitre Hotel, Commercial Street, would have looked much the same in the 1950s, when its discreet, below-street location made it a popular meeting place for gay men in the evenings. Privacy was enhanced by its ornate booths (where lunches were sold to business clientele during the day), large pillars and, according to customers’ memories, a sympathetic attitude from the local police. Many of the men who socialised there would have worn suede shoes and a cravat, both signals of a gay aesthetic in an era when suits and ties were the norm.
Link to full story with transcript on WYQS: https://wyqs.co.uk/stories/cravats-and-suede-shoes/barry-full-interview
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