The White Lion previously occupied a site in Kirkgate opposite the Parish Church but was rebuilt to allow Cross Church Street to be opened up. By 1960, the main portion of the hotel had been moved further into the yard so that it no longer faced onto Cross Church Street.
Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
During the nineteenth century most hostelries in the town were referred to as public houses or inns but the White Lion was, from its earliest days, described as an hotel, its higher status reflected perhaps in its once imposing facade and the fact that it was, for a time, the tallest building in Cross Church Street. It may well have been its height that resulted in the White Lion being struck by lightning during a spectacular thunderstorm on 13th July 1831. A report of the incident describes how "...the electric fluid melted gas pipes and set the gas on fire. It pursued the course of the bell wires which it melted and went out by one of the upper back windows which was shattered and burnt to pieces. A servant and a little boy were knocked down but soon recovered the shock."
In 1892, Henry Archer, then the proprietor of the White Lion, was proud to advertise good stabling, well aired beds and a "free and easy" every evening. Doubtless he was also proud of his handsome building with its nicely proportioned double bay windows and neat ashlar quoins. Should Mr. Archer, in ghostly form, ever decide to return to his old haunt he would be unable to recognise it (or make sense of the new name) for, since his day, the White Lion has been twice altered. At some time, the original front elevation was replaced by a mock Tudor half-timbered facade with a handsome arched entrance embellished with Tudor roses. We have been unable to discover the date of the alterations but the stonework in the doorway is typical of the 1930s. It was probably at the time of this work that the hotel was extended to the rear. For many years during the second half of the twentieth century the ground floor rooms on either side of the door were used as shops. As a result of much more recent alterations the hotel is whole again, a good deal of plate glass has been introduced and the timbers have been stripped of their black paint. The imposing door has, happily, been retained.
The White Lion Yard was originally twice its present length and until the site was cleared for the Kingsgate project some of its old buildings survived, albeit in a dilapidated condition. During the nineteenth century there were three business premises in the yard occupied variously, over the years, by a cotton waste dealer, a wheelwright, a brush manufacturer, a paper bag merchant, a basket maker and a joiner. The bottom end of the yard was occupied by stables and cart stores, the headquarters of a number of carriers whose address was White Lion Yard and who delivered to villages at some distance from the town: Kirkburton, Shelley, Skelmanthorpe, Clayton West, Meltham, Hepworth and New Mill. As there was no entrance at the bottom of the yard the carriers would always have used the narrow passageway into Cross Church Street and here a very small part of the past survives, untouched, in the shape of the wheel stones placed to keep the cart wheels away from the walls on either side of the entrance.