‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Leeds Nightlife, Pubs, Cinderella Rockerfella’s, the Hoffbrauhaus, Intime and Leeds Colleges

From, probably, the fifth form at Roundhay School I extended my nights out from just the Chained Bull, and Phoenix Bar at Roundhay Mansion to later nights out in Leeds City. A friend of mine, Dave G, was into real ale and at the start of the seventies CAMRA, Campaign For Real Ale movement, was getting to be a real force. Dave used to brew his own beer at the time and his parents didn’t seem to mind that he wasn’t eighteen. He would have beer bubbling around and so did his father and the house had the strong aroma of yeast, hops and fermenting beer. Home brewing was quite a thing at this time and most Saturday afternoons I would go around to Dave’s house and listen to whatever new albums he had bought. Pete and others would often attend, but many times it was just the two of us. When this was the case, out would come his homebrew. The crown top of the bottle would be prised off and there was a resulting hiss. Dave would pour two glasses, trying not to disturb the beer which had a thickish layer of yeast sediment at the bottom.

There are lovely Karens, some maybe not so nice and then…

His beer had two distinctive qualities. One of these was that it was an acquired taste. Unlike the commercial brews it had a strong flavour and his varied recipes produced some interesting, and at times, challenging flavours. The brews also had a very high alcohol content and were strongly coloured.

David was always buying new albums and he had a very eclectic taste. He would buy albums after listening and reading reviews, whether he had heard the artist or not. It was through him that I heard ‘The Man Who Sold the World’, one of David Bowie’s first albums and ‘Hunky Dory’. He was also keen on some more obscure artists, such as Andy Pratt who had a minor hit with ‘Avenging Annie’. We would sit, drink and smoke and all the while listen to whatever was new to his collection. Dave lived between Harehills Lane and Gledhow Valley Road, in the Gledhow Parks, I seem to remember, and it was rare that his parents were in the house. As the afternoons wore on we became quite merry. Dave was always very generous and he would ply me with drinks, whether I wanted them or not. When his supply of beer was getting low and we were less fussy, even the sludge at the bottom was consumed. As this was Saturday afternoon and we were usually meeting people in the evening it was not a great start. Being quite sloshed by tea time, we would head off to meet up with other friends.

Sometimes that meant going into Leeds and often meeting in a CAMRA pub in Sheepscar. It might have been the White Stag, but I thought that was a Tetley pub. Whilst there Dave would buy rounds and if there were just the two of us I would have a line of pints whilst Dave set the pace and wanted me to keep up. I don’t know how he did it, or I did, for that matter. From here we would walk into Leeds and often we would go to Leeds Poly for either concerts or some of their discos. We would usually miss the last bus and end up walking all the way back home. Needless to say, much of the evenings would be a blur and even after a late rising the next day, I would swear never to do it again as the hangover was awful. Dave never seemed to be affected and was ready to go again on Sunday night.

The Intime

Younger readers probably don’t know about the pub closing times. Public houses had to close at 10.30pm and ‘Last drinks!’ was shouted out shortly before closing time. This allowed time for all drinks to be consumed before the pubs had to shut. What this did result in was the very quick consumption of drinks in the last half hour, and produced large numbers of intoxicated people pouring out of pubs at the same time, and probably contributed to some of the aggression that occurred. Night clubs did not have the same restrictions and they could serve alcohol into the early hours of the morning.

Pete Stringfellow

On clearer nights we would meet up at Leeds Poly and have a few beers and play snooker whilst hanging around in a group and having a good time and then move on to some of the late night entertainment venues. We had to plan in advance if we were going to a club as suitable dress codes were in place. Shirts with collars and no jeans were the rule for most and even then you had to appear sober and sensible for the bouncers to allow you in. Large numbers of lads in a group would often be refused and it was easier if you were a couple. Around the Merrion Centre there were a few places to go and, for that reason, drinks at the General Wade could be the starting off point. The most popular at the time, I recall, was Cinderellas Rockerfellas. This was at the back of the Merrion Centre and it was owned by the late Peter Stringfellow, who later went on to greater things in London and the USA. The clubs were upstairs in a two storey building and Rockerfellas was supposed to be classier and catered for older clientele, whereas Cinderellas was for younger clients. The music and decor in each would match the style for the age groups and was louder in Cinderellas. Despite being separate, once in you could move from one section to the other. Lights flashed, the dance floors were busy and music belted out. Chic, Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Kool and the Gang, Marvin Gaye, the Stylistics, the list goes on. Never my choice in music, but it was well suited for the clubs. Girls would often dance in circles around their handbags and interested boys would approach nervously. They could be rejected with a curt word or just by being ignored, and the lad’s friends would fall around in hysterics and their friend’s discomfort and rejection. If they were successful then the friends would not be quite so clever and envy would be the response.

Demolition of Cinderellas Rockerfellas

There were steep steps that led up to the clubs, and once inside it was an impressive magical world. Glass floors, plush seating and very dim lights impressed and in Cinderellas conversations were difficult with the deafening volume of the music. If you did want to talk you would go through to Rockerfellas where the music was at a slightly lower level.

An advert from the Yorkshire Post

There were always staff keeping an eye out and I don’t ever remember there being any trouble. My friend, Dave, was not the best coordinated person. He was tall and long-limbed and I do remember his attempt to impress a group of girls with his dancing. His style was what I would now say seemed like a fairly accurate imitation of Mr Bean dancing. It certainly grabbed quite a lot of attention. Needless to say, it was not successful in impressing the ladies, but it was successful in getting a bouncer to tell him to get off the dance floor. Rejection never seemed to faze Dave and, a bit like the toys in the budgie’s cage, he just bounced back and gave it another go.

The General Wade

There was another local venue and that was the Intime. This was near to the General Wade and was below street level. We went a few times and, again, I never saw any trouble. It played a lot of the same music as Cinderellas and had a clock theme. What was common with both of these clubs was that alcohol was very expensive. We, and I would assume many others, would make sure we had sufficient to drink before going to the clubs, and when there would only buy one or maybe two drinks. The best time to arrive was shortly before last orders as great crowds would arrive after 10.30, wanting to get in and many would be refused.

The problem with these venues for us was that going always meant having to walk home. We didn’t have a lot of money and so taxis were a luxury saved for special occasions. The walk was interesting and meant passing the notorious Spencer Place near Harehills, but I never had any problems and made the trek many times.

A Stein

Another option was the Hoffbrauhaus in the Merrion Centre. This was based on the Bavarian Beer Hauses in Munich. When it first opened a group of us organised a Roundhay outing, a bit like our visit to Batley Variety Club and Freddy Star. The Hofbrauhaus was downstairs and was set out with hordes of people sitting on long benches next to solid wooden tables. Beer was the only drink I can remember and it was served in enormous handled glasses called Steins. When starting the evening the Steins were full with relatively small heads of beer, but later in the evening, as people became less discerning, the heads filled half the glass. There was an Oom-pah Band, with men in lederhosen and fedoras, and girls in frilled dresses with white blouses, belted under the boobs. The evening was heavily organised with audience participation in singing, standing on the benches and stamping and much drinking. At the time, it was like nothing I had ever seen, but like many venues it lost its novelty value and became less popular. I seem to remember they even started having striptease to try and get the crowds. I also know that bands played there at one time before it went the way of Tudor Banquets, Bernie Inns and other venues.

I can’t say that clubs were ever really my thing. I guess I was more of a hippy at heart and I preferred progressive music and rock, to disco and pop. I was happier at the Poly, Thomas Danby College, Leeds Uni, and the Town Hall and other venues that had live bands. After saying this, I have some interesting memories of a night after watching Man United play and then attending Pip’s Nightclub in Manchester, with Dave, Mick L and his younger brother (all ex-Roundhay School boys). I also was a regular for a while at Crazy Daisy’s nightclub in Sheffield, when I lived there in the late 1970s.

My latest album out now and free to listen to on the Soundcloud player below. An eclectic mix.

14 Replies to “‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Leeds Nightlife, Pubs, Cinderella Rockerfella’s, the Hoffbrauhaus, Intime and Leeds Colleges”

  1. Another good one David. Continues to bring back the memories. Cinderella Rockerfella was a regular haunt. I remember the walk upstairs. I think it might have been a spiral staircase but not certain. Chicken in a basket was a regular on the menu. Keep them coming.

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      1. You were right David about the White Stag being a Tetleys pub. A great pint in the seventies where it stood alone on North Street. I remember that the gents had a very distinctive smell of disinfectant!

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  2. Dave, it is uncanny how you and I shared more or less the same sort of social life as teenagers in Leeds. You from Rounday school and me from Leeds Modern. Though I did most of my boozing in Headingley and Horsforth, our town centre experiences were very similar although I think I preceded you by a couple of years. Do you remember for example the the smaller, more intimate bierkeller in Wade Lane. You went down some steps to it and was generally heaving. It must have been it’s success which led to the opening of it’s legendary big brother. I also like you preferred the prog rock scene and the legendary bands that we saw at Leeds Uni refectory and poly for what must have been a pittance if I could afford them seem unbelievable today. The beer back then was generally not a lot to shout home about. I was weaned on Double Diamond from about 15 at the Rollarena on Kirkstall Road. Enjoyed a pint of 80/- at Whitelocks though. Worst beer John and Sam Smiths but not as bad as Watneys Red Barrel, the rubbish that was ubiquitous in London or Tartan which I had to sup during a holiday job when 16 as a commis carver at the famous Simpsons in the Strand. Best regards.

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    1. It is surprising how many of us did such similar things, Stuart. I don’t remember the bierkeeler in Wade Lane, though. Great times, but indeed some dreadful beer. Glad you were a Prog man. Fifty pence for some acts. I saw Cat Stevens at the Poly for about that and I saw him here in Perth, Western Australia for a hundred pounds. Times change. I should have been seeing Rod Stewart in a vinyard next month, but that has been put off until 2022.

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    2. Stuart, I remember the smaller bier keller, it was named after the brewery that supplied the beer, Lowenbrau. We were regulars from its earliest days, a crowd of long haired hippies (sort of). The door staff were friendly towards us as were the bar staff. However, once it became super busy we were no longer welcome. It’s popularity waned fairly quickly shortly afterwards, word spread around the colleges I suppose. I remember, when walking past a few times the door staff tried to entice us back in, but they burned their bridges and I think it closed a few months later. The hippy look was unwelcome in most clubs and bars in the late 60s early 70s and most of the clubs mentioned in this latest great tale were out of bounds to us.

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  3. I was a big Disco fan, Saturday Night Fever was the start, I went to Cinderellas now and again but preferred Tiffany’s in The Merrion Centre. The other good one was La Phornographique (spelt wrong I think!!) which was downstairs in the Centre too. Went to many clubs in the late 70’s early 80’s, had great times dancing round handbags! Have vivid memories of blokes who thought they were the next John Travolta….complete with gold medallion!! Having said that I also liked prog. rock, one of the best bands I ever saw live was Be-Bop Deluxe at The Grand Theatre. I also saw Paul McCartney at the University for the modest sum of £1.50 in 1973. Now I could never afford to see any big names, and think they are too overpriced.

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  4. David. Thanks for more great memories. Your walk home due to a lack of late night buses was similar to mine. I lived off Street Lane so had the choice of walking either through Chapeltown or through Harehills, the routes being more or less equidistant. Never ever had a problem as all pubs en route had long shut their doors and all was quiet. Try that today and it would be a suicide mission the demographic having changed so dramatically during the intervening years.

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    1. Glad you survived the long trek home. Many a time I wondered if the night out was worth it, Tony. I certainly wouldn’t want to do it nowadays, but such is the folly of youth.

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  5. I remember the pubs and nightlife round the Merrion Centre in the 1960’s very well. Me and my sixth form pals frequented the area – usually on a Friday night, I seem to remember. I believe the Hoffbrauhouse was the first place I went to that had strippers. Being very mod-ish at the time, me and my girlfriend used to go to the ‘New Mecca’ as we called it, (to differentiate it from Jimmy Saville’s ‘Old Mecca’ in Victoria Arcade (?)).

    Other favourite spots nearby were Whitelock’s, in Turk’s Head Yard off Briggate, and a pub up near the university that hosted a trad jazz band – maybe the sadly-missed Ed O’Donnell. Can’t for the life of me remember the pub’s name, but I used to go to the same pub (I think) for folk music back in the days of the folk revival, Dylan and Baez. I also remember going to a concert somewhere near the centre of Leeds, with Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and the rest of the Stax label.

    I never went to “Cinderellas-Rockerfellers” – I’d already left for university and then ended up living in Manchester – but by that time I was out of the Leeds disco scene and into the more challenging prog-rock bands like Gentle Giant and Yes. I couldn’t afford tickets to see bands in those days (early 70’s), but I did see Yes a few years ago at a casino in California.

    I never had the pleasure of having to walk home to Moortown from Leeds – I always made the last bus.

    Terry
    Virginia, USA

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    1. Similar experiences, Terry, at least in Leeds. I have seen Yes numerous times over the years and they never disappointed despite the various lineup changes. Last time I saw them was just before Chris Squire died. It was in Perth, Western Australia and despite being overweight, he was still brilliant. I was never a disco person just went with friends for the girls. Hope life is good in Virginia.
      David

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