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© Mrs Pennie Keech

IoE Number: 465414
Location: CITY VARIETIES, THE HEADROW (south off)
Photographer: Mrs Pennie Keech
Date Photographed: 16 September 2005
Date listed: 15 February 1960
Date of last amendment: 11 September 1996
Grade II*

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LEEDS SE3033NW SWAN STREET 714-1/76/395 (North side) 15/02/60 City Varieties (Formerly Listed as: THE HEADROW (South side) City Palace of Varieties) II* 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 above. 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 windows. 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-).

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