The Kirkgate area is slowly seeing a resurgence of indie cool. Outlaws Yacht Club and Crowd of Favours are just a stone’s throw from the top end of Call Lane and have transformed vacant units into welcoming drinking establishments. Completing this holy trinity is a new kind of bar.
Managed by its members, Wharf Chambers has taken an empty pie factory and turned it into a relaxed, cosy space to chill with friends. With membership from just a quid, the community there are committed to keeping a space that’s affordable and inviting no matter which set you belong to.
With a separate space for hire and regular live music acts, Wharf Chambers is proving popular particularly on the weekends. Its members hope that they can encourage a new community of patrons to their plethora of classes, workshops and activities in 2014 by providing a friendly setting for those that might not normally consider visiting this area. One of their members, Eleanor, spoke to us about their hopes for a growing co-operative bar for Leeds…
Who are you and how did you get here?
Wharf Chambers is a members’ club managed by a worker co-op. We’re open as a bar every day, with a bookable flexible space that any member can use for any purpose. We’re based between Kirkgate and The Calls in a nice cosy space that’s developing all the time.
We opened on a daily basis in March 2012. We’d identified the need for a venue that supported non-market led art and music, as well as wanting to offer an affordable city centre bar and cafe (the cafe isn’t there yet, but we’re working on it!) The space has also been used for craft fairs, writers’ nights, theatrical performances and meetings
What do you offer that other places in Leeds don’t?
We’re the only worker co-op run bar in Leeds – meaning we all have equal say and share jobs equally. There’s also a real variety in what happens here. We have ethical policies governing stock, management and the nature and cost of events, as well as a Safer Spaces policy aimed at supporting people even if they wouldn’t normally feel comfortable in town at night.
There’s a really wide variety of activities going on here. It ranges from wellbeing classes like yoga to craft and writing courses and classes.
What can customers expect from Wharf Chambers?
A friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Affordable and inclusive events and a vegan-friendly bar. We have a set of rules that members agree to stick to, but it’s generally just common sense stuff to help everyone have a good time and the bar run smoothly for everyone. Membership is only 1 so it really is open to everyone.
What are the most popular things going on at Wharf Chambers?
That’s hard to say as we like to think there’s something for everyone. Possibly the free table football! Or the lemongrass and ginger tea for 80p. Or a pint of Sam Smith’s Pale Ale for 3.
What do you think makes Leeds so awesome?
Green spaces and a lively artistic, cultural and political community. There’s new stuff popping up all the time and that makes our city a really exciting place to be.
Where do you like to hang out in Leeds?
There are so many – too many! The Hyde Park Picture House, Brudenell Social Club, The Greedy Pig, Laynes Espresso… to name but a few!