© Mrs Pennie Keech
CITY VARIETIES, THE HEADROW (south off)
LEEDS, LEEDS, WEST YORKSHIRE
Mrs Pennie Keech
16 September 2005
15 February 1960
Date of last amendment:
11 September 1996
The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.
SE3033NW SWAN STREET
714-1/76/395 (North side)
15/02/60 City Varieties
(Formerly Listed as:
City Palace of Varieties)
Music hall theatre and inn. 1865, with remains of late C18 inn
to east. By George Smith. For Charles Thornton. Rendered
brick, slate roof.
Theatre block: 3 storeys, 7 bays built on Swan Street, former
entrance at east end of north side from The Headrow obscured
by a canopy, rectangular window above; rear facade to Swan
Street: entrance to ground floor/basement bar to right of
centre, 2 tiers of round-arched recesses and bracketed eaves
Remains of inn: 4 storeys, 2 bays fronting Swan Street, this
block projects forward of the theatre and has the main theatre
entrance left with segmental arch and moulded plaster
semicircular arch above, later C20 openings to right; first
floor: paired sash and 2 blocked windows; 2nd floor: 2 small
segmental-arch casements left; 3rd floor: 4 flat-arched
INTERIOR: the former Headrow entrance has a stairway of 4
straight flights with a ramped wooden handrail on cast-iron
balustrade with circular and scroll motifs; the stairs rise to
the rear of the auditorium (above the ground-floor bar), and
to the higher galleries and boxes.
The Swan Street entrance has glazed double doors and opens
into a more elaborate staircase hall with ticket office; the
stone stairs to left and right are each of 2 flights, united
at the 3rd flight and rising to a landing supported on ornate
cast-iron columns. The balustrade to stairs and landing has
cast-iron scrolled panels supporting a ramped wooden handrail.
The auditorium is reached to the left and a bar and former
dining room to the right. The latter has an inserted ceiling,
the room above has traces of the original roll-moulded ceiling
cornice relating to the earlier level, this higher room lit by
the 2 blocked windows on the facade 1st floor.
Theatre auditorium: dress circle supported by cast-iron
columns with Corinthian-type caps, modillion cornice,
crinoline or bow fronted solid balustrade decorated with
plaster enrichments, swags, medallions and female busts. Boxes
have Corinthian columns with lotus-leaf bases; gallery similar
but less ornate. Flat ceiling with plaster decorations.
3-centred proscenium arch with royal arms over.
HISTORICAL NOTE: Charles Thornton was the landlord of the Swan
Inn in Swan Street, built in 1762; the Swan Inn is
identifiable on the 1850 OS map as the projecting block to
right of the theatre. Thornton rebuilt the singing room as
'Thornton's New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge', opened 7
June 1865; the building evidence suggests that he modified the
inn by altering the Swan Street entrance to provide the main
access to theatre and bar/dining room, the floor levels in the
inn altered to suit the new staircase and openings from the
landing. He leased the building to John Stansfield in 1876;
the Insurance map shows the 'Theatre of Varieties' with bar
and dining room extending across the old inn and a brew house
and stable beneath the stage. In 1894 it became the City
Varieties and the 1899 OS map shows the White Swan Inn beneath
the auditorium, probably the original arrangement. Charles
Thornton was also responsible for the construction of
Thornton's Buildings and Thornton's Arcade (qv).
(Heap, A: The Headrow, a pictorial history: Leeds: 1990-: 41;
Goad, C: Insurance Plan of Leeds: Leeds: 1886-: SHEET 5; OS
Map of Leeds: 1850-: SHEET 11; OS Map of Leeds: 1890-).