James Holroyd (Junior) was an Edwardian entrepreneur who took the family business of pottery tile making to new levels with his enthusiasm and new ideas.
Founded in 1859, the business originally produced buff coloured terracotta tiles for use in architecture and later created shaped, glazed (faience) tiles in many colours.
From 1880, under the direction of James, the factory also began to make art pottery, including vases and decorative domestic items.
In 1888, the business was renamed Burmantofts Pottery, after the district of Leeds in which the products were made.
In 1903, James had a large house built in stone, in a leafy suburb on Wetherby Road in Leeds, for the benefit of his family. This stood in woodland on the edge of Roundhay Park which, at over 700 acres, is now one of the largest urban parks in Europe, yet it is only three miles from the centre of Leeds.
The park contains a café and restaurant, lakes, open grassland, woods and formal gardens as well as a bandstand and a Victorian folly castle.
By 1957, when the factory closed, it operated an impressive 90 kilns on 16 acres of land. It’s tiles can still be seen adorning many buildings throughout the country, whilst the decorative pottery is much sought after today, by collectors.
The pottery was demolished in the short-sighted cultural vandalism of the late 1950’s, early 1960’s.
James’s family home was subsequently sold and it has been a public house named The White House, since the 1970’s. It is currently operated by the Chef and Brewer chain and is a popular venue for dining.
On entering, sadly there was no sign of Burmantofts faience tiling, which was somewhat disappointing. Had I been refurbishing such a historic premises I would have ensured that there was at least a panel of tiling, or better still, faced the bar with them and made more of the Burmantofts Pottery story.
The only reference to James was a two line note on the menus.
How history passes us by.
The menu is fairly typical pub-chain fare with starters at £5 – £7, Sharers at £9 – £13, Burgers £9 – £14, Mains £9 – £15, and four steaks, including a Black Angus fillet at £20.
Puddings are at £4 – £6. The menu is seasonal and has a British Garden influence apparently.
In addition to the main menu, there is a fixed menu, of two or three courses.
The pub runs various events such as a Monday pub quiz, Thursday steak nights and Fizz Fridays.
The forthcoming ‘Classic Game Festival’ from 2nd October to 11th November 2017, looks very enticing indeed with all manner of game dishes to tempt the taste buds.
The pub itself is impressive from the outside but inside is a bit of an identikit chain pub, though a comfortable and pleasant place to spend time.
There are fake wooden roof beams (of course), together with timbered and brick partitions which break up the large space into more intimate and private alcoves and bays. Colours are modern and muted and needed a little refreshing in places..
There are black and white photographs of the Leeds area on the walls, an unimaginative interior designer at work here, I suspect.
Despite a personal visit to arrange the booking, our table for six had not been reserved and it was a full hour and a quarter before we were seated at a dining table and our meal orders taken. This was amidst profuse apologies and a visit from the manager.
The situation was tempered by the removal from the bill of two full rounds of drinks and a 25% discount on the remainder. Problem solved as far as I was concerned and I am sure it was an isolated blip.
I chose a bubble and squeak round, topped with a poached egg and smothered in smoky cheese sauce to start and delicious it was.
My main was a slab of beautifully cooked belly pork on mash with roast parsnips, green beans and a pot of rich, dark gravy. The meat melted in the mouth.
Other choices of sea bass and scallops, salmon garden bowl, and a steak all looked terrific and received positive comments from my dining partners.
The hand pulled beers on offer were a tasty selection of Grene King ales and a guest Red Bitter from local Ossett Brewery. The IPA session beer was on excellent form.
Lagers and ciders are also present.
Apart from the early mix-up, the evening was a success and we would return.
It is standard pub food, but offers some tasty and unusual choices.
James Holroyd may have once lived at The White House and has not been entirely forgotten, but I saw no sign of The Donald.
Is there another White House somewhere? Should I check on Twitter?
Menus and further details can be found at the “website”:https://www.chefandbrewer.com/pubs/west-yorkshire/white-house/
The pub is only three miles from Leeds City Centre and your sat-nav will find it at LS8 2JU.
Apart from the wide open spaces of Roundhay Park, also nearby is Tropical World, which has a butterfly house, an animal menagerie, and the largest collection of tropical plants in the U.K. after Kew Gardens.