The Bridewell Gaol beneath Leeds Town Hall is something of a local legend. Originally used as holding cells when there was a functioning courtroom in the building, it is now a unique events space perfect whenever anyone needs darkness.
This winter, they’ve been turned over to a pop-up bar that accompanies the performance installation of the same name, hidden in the depths of the Town Hall, and it’s open until Christmas Eve, when it shuts its doors for good.
To get inside, look for the small blackboard hiding under one of the Leeds Lions on the south-eastern corner.
In order to see your way in the darkness, all the corridors and the cells are lit by hundreds of small candles. The pictures here were taken with the flash so you can’t really see the effect. Continuing the wood theme from the installation, the walls are covered in ivy and the seats are made from logs. There are lots of places to discover seating in the dark in here!
The main bar sells mulled wine & cider and tea/coffee/hot chocolate as well as two craft beers. You don’t know what you’re going to get because they change whenever the keg runs out. When we visited it was Kirkstall Three Swords and Sierra Nevada Stout – both great beers. We also spotted some bottles of Veltins for the unadventurous beer drinker. It’s definitely a “quality, not quantity” kind of place in the wood.
There was a stereo quietly playing oldies from the 30s and 40s, and the atmosphere was really relaxed and winter-warming even on a busy Saturday night.
The Wood is definitely not just a stop off for people visiting the installation — it’s a really good bar in its own right. What a shame it’s only here until Christmas!