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Stick or Twist

Come and place your bets in this former casino.

The Podium Site, Merrion Way, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8PD

The name of this pub recalls the former use of the second floor of the building- a casino. Blackjack is a popular casino game, where players try to beat the dealer, without their cards totalling more than 21 points. As play progresses, they are asked at the end of each round whether they want to ‘stick or twist’.

Framed prints and text about Marks & Spencer.

The text reads: Don’t Ask the Price, It’s a Penny – This was the poster Michael Marks set up over his stall in Leeds’ Covered Market. He arrived in the city in 1884 aged 25, destitute and speaking no English. In a lucky encounter, he impressed a wholesaler, who offered him £5 worth of credit for goods from his warehouse.

From selling these goods as a travelling pedlar, Marks went on to run stalls in local markets. When he progressed to having a permanent stall, he called it ‘The Original Penny Bazaar’.

Over the next few years, he opened similar Penny Bazaars in other parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire. As the business expanded, he moved to Wigan, and found he needed a partner. His wholesaler’s cashier, Tom Spencer, had observed the trade Marks was doing, and bought into the enterprise for £300 in 1894, creating the now familiar partnership name.

The firm soon had warehouses of its own, in Manchester, Birmingham, and London, supplying over a hundred stores.

The first partners before the First World War, but the business stayed a family venture until 1926. During the 1920s it developed a new image, which featured the familiar green and gold shop-fronts, and the famous St Michael brand-name. This is said to have been chosen by Simon Marks in honour of his father.

Top right: Michael Marks
Top Left: Tom Spencer
Left: (L to R) Simon Marks, Israel Sieff, Norman Laski and Alexander Isaacs, 1926
Right: Trafalgar Street, Leeds, where the Marks family lived.

Framed prints and text about Montague Burton.

The text reads: Montague Burton was the name adopted by a Lithuanian immigrant tailor who first set up his stall at Chesterfield Market in 1904. Within five years he had a factory in Leeds, and began to specialise in ‘bespoke’ (that is made to order) suits.
The suits were made quickly and cheaply enough to compete with ready-made garments. By the end of the First World War he had 40 shops, and at the start of the second, nearly 600. In the 1930s his suits cost between £1 and £1.50, around half a week’s wage, and were said to be worn by one British man in every five.

This success led to his new Hudson Road factory becoming the largest in Europe, covering more than 100 acres, and employing over 10,000 people. It was visited by rich and famous, culminating with the opening of an 8,000-seater canteen by the Princess Royal.

Being Jewish, Montague Burton was an enthusiastic supporter of the War against Hitler, devoting part of his production to the manufacture of a quarter of the uniforms needed by the Armed Services. His keenness was shared by his staff, who bought a Spitfire fighter for the Polish Air Force.
Burton was a humane employer, providing his workforce with medical, social, and sporting facilities. Very few felt that his knighthood was undeserved.

Top Right: Montague Burton on his wedding day, 1990
Top Left: A typical Burton store in 1951, when Sir Montague died
Left: Company letterhead, 1917
Right: Burton store at Upper Head Row, 1928.

Framed drawings and text about shopping centres in Leeds.

The text reads: The department store arrived in Leeds in the 1880s with the opening of Alexander Monteith’s Grand Pygmalion on the site in Boar Lane now occupied by C&A. This huge emporium stocked almost anything a middle- class Victorian household could possibly need. On four ‘lofty and commodious floors’, over 100 assistants served customers with goods ranging from furniture to baby- clothes.

Close by, opposite Holy Trinity Church, was Mr Richard Boston’s Great Fruit, Game, and Fish Market, said to have been able to supply a 100 sorts of fruit, 50 kinds of fish, and 36 varieties of vegetable.

Over on the Headrow, the present Schofields Centre shopping complex had a modest beginning in the first year of this century as a single drapers and milliners shop, at 1 Victoria Arcade. Mr Snowden Schofield’s new idea, and the key to his success, was to buy advertising space on the front pages of newspapers. This, he said, was the biggest shop window.

Lewis’s department store opened in a six-storey building on the Headrow in 1932. More than 100,000 customers were served on its opening day.

It was enterprises such as these which earned Leeds the title ‘The Shopping Centre of the North’.

Top Right: Co-op Store, Albion Street
Top Left: Market Hall. Left Briggate, 1875
Right: Grand Pygmalion.

Framed prints and text about grand arcades in Leeds.

The text reads: Charles Thornton used the money he had made from his White Swan pub and Music Hall to build the first of Leeds’ great arcades in 1878.

The idea for a roofed passage lined with shops probably came from the covered market, combined with influence from the Continent. The success of the Crystal Palace had proved that large areas could be roofed with glass, and decorative iron- work was a Victorian speciality. Whilst foreign arcades provided coolness and shade, those in Leeds were welcomed for protecting shoppers from rain, traffic and mud.

Although Thornton died in 1881 before he could create any more arcades, his innovation was soon copied on a grand scale. The Queen’s Arcade was completed in 1889, and the Victoria followed. About the same time, The Grand Arcade was opened, twice the size of Thornton’s, but featuring, like his, a clock with animated figures appearing to strike the hours.

Grandest of all, with its domes, columns and mosaics, was the County Arcade, developed by the Leeds Estate Company, who also built the Cross Arcade and the Empire Theatre. One hundred years on, the stained-glass canopy constructed over Queen Victoria Street forms both a splendid addition to the city’s arcades, and a tribute to their creators.

Top Right: Queens Arcade
Top Left: Thorntons Arcade
Left: County Arcade
Right: Schofields, Victoria Arcade.

A framed photograph and text about Charles Coborn, the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

The text reads: In 1886, when Joseph Jagger was watching roulette play in Monte Carlo, he noticed some numbers coming up more often than usual on one wheel. He suspected a faulty spindle. Staking on the numbers where the wheel sometimes stuck, he won 2 million francs (then about £200,000) in eight days.

This became the subject of the well-known Music Hall song performed by the Cockney-Scot Charles Coborn, already famous for singing Two Lovely Black Eyes.

As I walk along the Bois Boulong, with an independent air,
You can hear the girls declare
‘He must be a millionaire’;
You can hear them sigh and wish to die,
You can see them wink the other eye
At the Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.

A framed photograph of Briggate, Leeds, c1912.

A framed photograph of New Market Street, Leeds, c1914.

Framed photographs of Bamforth’s Music Shop, 31 Merrion Street.

Above: A violin being made inside Bamforth’s music shop.
Below: William Bamforth in the process of finishing off a violin surrounded by tools and violin parts.

A framed photograph of Old Leeds Grammar School, North Street.

The text reads: At the time of this photograph the old school buildings were derelict. The Grammar School moved to Woodhouse Moor in 1858.

A framed photograph of The Old Dispensary, New Briggate, 1911.

The text reads: Situated at the junction of Vicar Lane (left) and North Street/New Briggate (right), the old Dispensary opened in 1867. In 1913 it became a treatment clinic for tuberculosis victims.

A framed photograph of Cobourg Street, 1937.

The text reads: Cobourg Street was renamed Merrion Way after redevelopment. The double-fronted Georgian terrace property at No. 2 Cobourg Street was the residence of Madame Jessup, Palmist, as advertised in the downstairs window.

A framed photograph of The Merrion Centre, c1965.

Above: The partially completed Merrion Centre, with Merrion Way on the right, and Merrion Street on the left.
Below: Cobourg Street (later Merrion Way) at the beginning of construction of the new Merrion Centre.

A framed photograph of Sheepshanks House, 42 North Street, 1872.

The text reads: This three story Georgian house was built for Robert Denison, a cloth merchant, sometime before 1725. It then came into the possession of the Sheepshank family of woollen merchants. The site eventually became the Ritz Cinema, opened in 1934, and later the ABC Cinema.

A framed photograph of the Rear of Sheepshanks House, 42 North Street, 1890.

The text reads: Originally the home of wealthy merchants, Sheepshanks House was, at the time of this photograph, the premises of Ebenezer Williams & Co. Ltd., house furnishers and removal contractors. The site later became the Ritz Cinema.

A framed photograph of North Street Shops, 1937.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: pubhistories@jdwetherspoon.co.uk