LGBT+ Leeds Curated Gallery

The Leodis website was relaunched in March 2021 and we are pleased to announce that the LGBT+ Leeds curated gallery is now back on the site. This was created in 2020 by West Yorkshire Queer Stories as a guide to LGBT+ history in Leeds.

Featuring a variety of people, places and protests, the curated gallery includes some long gone Leeds LGBT+ friendly venues such as the Mitre Hotel on Commercial Street or the Dock Green Inn on Ashley Road. Each image has a link to more in-depth stories on the West Yorkshire Queer Stories website with the option to listen to or read personal memories from the LGBT+ community.

Interior view of the Mitre Hotel, c1900. Copyright Leeds Libraries, Leodis

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.

Dock Green Inn, Ashley Road, c1976-81. Copyright Leeds Libraries, Leodis.

Women-only discos organised by local lesbians were held at the Dock Green Inn, Harehills, throughout the 1980s. At their peak, they took place every other Wednesday from 8.30 to 11.00 p.m., alternating with similar nights at the Woodpecker Inn in Burmantofts. At the Dock Green, amateur DJs brought their own records to play on the pub’s sound system in a hired room on the first floor, with customers using a side entrance to bypass the main bar and go straight upstairs, where the staff were all female. Despite the segregation, the events saw no trouble; neither were they attended exclusively by lesbians, being popular with feminist groups and members of organisations such as the Miners’ Wives, whom lesbians had publicly supported.

Wharf Street, 1999. Copyright Leeds Libraries, Leodis.

By 2005, the hosiery business pictured here in 1999 had closed and 23-25 Wharf Street stood empty. A grassroots political group, Leeds Action for Radical Change, received funding to turn it into The Common Place, a venue for meetings, workshops and entertainment events, many of which attracted a queer following. After refurbishment in 2011, the venue became Wharf Chambers, a cooperatively owned members’ club with an LGBT-friendly bar that offered an alternative to the more commercial, gay male-dominated venues of Lower Briggate

To view the LGBT+ Leeds images simply visit Leodis and select ‘Curated Gallery’ from the menu bar.

The Local and Family History Library always welcome more images to truly represent the diversity of Leeds so if you have any images of LGBT+ celebrations or protests, LGBT+ friendly areas or venues in Leeds then please do get in touch localandfamilyhistory@leeds.gov.uk or 0113 378 6982.

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