There are a series of underground tunnels underneath Leeds by the railway station that date back to the mid-1860s. They were originally built to cover an access tunnel that sat beneath the railway station to redirect the River Aire. At the time, it was one of the biggest underground man-made spaces in all of Britain. Today, Locals refer to the tunnels as the Dark Arches. Hidden beneath the curves of these arches, you’ll find some of the city’s hippest bars and shopping — perhaps unexpected, but undoubtedly very cool.
That’s why we used the top spots under the arches as an inspiration for a T-shirt line for the city of Leeds. Each of our shirts pays homage to one of the very best places beneath the Dark Arches, and feature the iconic archways themselves, too.
Let’s get started with our Under the Arches T-shirts!
Developed in the 1990s right on the Leeds waterfront, this shopping centre includes all kinds of good stuff, like restaurants, cafés and bakeries; boutiques and shops; and even exhibition spaces and an events venue that holds up to 1,000 guests. They’ve also recently added a large hotel. With so much going on, it’s no surprise that this is a popular spot for locals to meet up and relax in good company.
If you stick around after the sun sets, you can get a good look at the light art installation on Neville Street. After that, why not round out the evening by enjoying a glass of something cool and bubbly at one of the waterfront restaurants?
The name here says it all – you’ll be able to get a little taste of Spain at this restaurant (though we can’t guarantee the Spanish-style sunshine to go along with it). Much of the team hails from Bilbao’s own home region of the Basque Country and serve up authentic Basque pintxos alongside some seriously tasty wines and a nice cocktail menu. Order some Iberian ham and watch as their servers expertly carve it wafer-thin.
Luckily for foodies with their faces fixed for bargains, Bilbao Bar also runs frequent special offers. Check their website for the latest ones!
The Hop is a real old-school ale house that mixes together a traditional feel with contemporary decor. Oh, and they have live music as well! The bar was dreamed up by local music fans with years of experience in the music industry with a fondness for brewing as well. They offer unplugged concerts where the audience and the artists can get nice and close. The venue is split over two levels and has 10 hand-pulls that their award-winning ales and ciders are served from.
From the sunny shores of Spain to… well, the also sunny shores of Italy! Another one of the top-notch restaurants in the Dark Arches for, Livin’ Italy serves food from la bella Italia for lunch and dinners during the week, and for all meals at weekends. If you go on Sunday evening, you’ll also get treated to live music, with a new artist playing every week. The calzones and summer salads are particularly good.
Archie’s Bar and Kitchen
This cutely named (Archie’s, arches – get it?) bar and restaurant spans over two of the old arches and is open all day, with breakfast served on weekends. On Friday and Saturday nights, there’s also a live D.J. playing. The food ranges from your traditional stuff like fish and chips to more creative dishes like a chicken satay burger, all with generous portions. Basically, everyone from your gran to your too-cool-for school hipster pal will be able to find something to enjoy here.
The HUB (Holbreck Underground Ballroom)
The HUB is home to theatre group Slung Low, and it spans over a massive five railway arches. Slung Low specialises in creating “adventures for audiences outside of conventional theatre spaces.” They use the HUB to rehearse and also to host for performances from the area who need a space to do their shows. They try to make as many of their shows as they can “pay way you decide”, so even attendees who don’t have a lot of cash can see a piece of theatre.
After reading about all those amazing places, who’s ready to get on the next bus, train or plane to Leeds? Or perhaps you’re lucky enough to live in such a happening place yourself. Be sure to check out our other T-shirt lines inspired by some of our other favourite places from around the UK Which one of our Under the Arches designs do you like best?
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