The Leeds equivalent of Fleet Street’s Old Cheshire Cheese. It is the very heart of Leeds.
John Betjeman, Poet
Venture down a narrow, hidden alleyway in Leeds, and you will find The Turk’s Head – a bar which invites visitors to pass through a dark doorway, choose their elixir, tincture or tonic and relax in a beautifully designed, unique setting.
Lord Whitney was approached by Ed Mason, of Mason & Company, after he decided that something new needed to be done with Whitelocks old ‘top bar’. To carefully balance the subtle theatre of a concept bar with a non-pretentious, local drinking establishment featuring high quality food and drinks, was not a case of typical interior design.
His church, his park, his club, his theatre, his place of refuge – his sole place of relaxation
To create a standalone bar which would exist for years to come, adjoined to Whitelocks and it’s 300 year history, was a task for Lord Whitney’s creative studio – where audience experience is of upmost importance in every project.
Above the marble topped counter the classically sculpted glassware twinkle and beckon, where cocktails are served with a sprig of Rosemary or garnish of orange. The cosy and dimly-lit space is filled with dark rich tones – charcoal, teal, dark wood – which contrast with the cabinets containing old apothecary-style bottles, featuring names like Hydragyrum, Cirium and Mendelevium. Look more closely and you might spot Lord & Whitney’s Ethanol Gargle, Dr. Liggin’s Liniment or Esgate’s Gluttony Suppressant. What’s your poison?
Three small glasses a day, for good health and lively blood
Creating such substance within a space, researching Whitelocks’ 300 year history and how people have enjoyed curing their ailments with drinking pleasures, was a big part of the project, feeding directly into the design. Gin palaces created from old shops, apothecaries turned drinking dens and back alley establishments all became part of The Turk’s Head. It gives off a subtle sense of theatre, of pasts gone by – who drank here all those years ago? What stories did they tell? And what conversations will new visitors hold? Making spaces that people can enjoy comes naturally to Lord Whitney, and with such fine food, artisanal drinks and a personal atmosphere, who wouldn’t?
In the 1880s John Lupton Whitelock began to establish the ornate decor still in place today, the long marble topped bar, etched mirrors and glass. The mirrors are joined by polished brass-work and cast-iron tables, all making for a genuine Edwardian atmosphere.
The quality of materials chosen is apparent, and something carried through from the main bar – from the wooden flooring and beautiful tiles to the more interestingly sourced items such as unique over-the-bar lights reclaimed from a church in Anglesey and beautiful crystal decanters from second-hand shops found all over Yorkshire.
Plush, navy and teal fabrics add a softness to the space, mixing in with a hint of sparkle from the carefully selected glassware on display. Everything has been highly considered, right down to the smallest details, including the old-fashioned bell above the entrance, the tiny brass door escutcheons, marble candle holders, and cocktail shakers.
Though beautiful, the bar is still sympathetic to operational needs, where the brief was to create a well-designed bar with the desired atmosphere. Lord Whitney worked closely with staff and owners of Whitelocks throughout the process to make sure everyone’s needs were met.
The design is respectful of the building – it reveals some of the original features in the process and celebrates the stone that still stands after 300 years. It was also very important to everyone that as much as possible was locally sourced, where Yorkshire companies were used at every opportunity. From the architect to contractors, from tiles suppliers to gin providers. Also, graphic designers Esgate and Parkin, continued the experience for customers through the branding – through foil-pressed hexagonal beer mats, gold and black vinyl window signage and the menus that reveal everything The Turk’s Head has to offer. Which is so much more than just a bar.
Branding & Graphic Design
Interior Concept, Design & Prodcution
Creative Direction, Fixture Design, Lighting Design, Prop Sourcing, Interior Styling,
Project Management Support