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The Coliseum

The Coliseum on Cookridge Street was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales when they visited Leeds on 15th July 1885. The building was designed by Willliam Blackwell, in Gothic style, and was built of brick with an ornate stone frontage. The hall was described as 'one of the finest in the north of England' by Kelly's Directory of 1914. There was a dress circle and an upper circle, and the theatre could hold 3,4000 people. There were also refreshment rooms, and rooms for private functions.

It was used for the circus and variety shows; in 1898 Gilbert's circus was at the Coliseum, one of the chief attractions being a lion that rode round the ring on the back of a horse. It was also used for religious revival meetings like those of Sankey and Moody, and for political meetings; Asquith, Balfour and Gladstone spoke there. The hall had a large orchestra, and a fine organ designed by Isaac Abott of Leeds, and was used for musical concerts like the Grand Scottish Concert in 1886.  The theatre was said to be haunted by the ghost of a circus ringmaster who hanged himself sometime in the 1890s.
The Coliseum was owned by a private Limited Company; the chairman was Samson Fox, the secretary Edmund Wilson. In 1901 it was bought by Taylor's Drug Company Limited, who owned it until 1921, when it changed hands again, and became the property of New Century Pictures. In Kelly's Directory of Leeds for 1922 it is described as being 'in use as a cinema hall with orchestra and organ'.

In 1938 it was converted to a cinema, with 1,700 seats and renamed the Gaumont. It closed in March 1961, and re-opened as a Bingo Hall and social club. Leeds Corporation bought it in 1969, intending to use the site as a car park, but this never happened. In 1988 it found a new use as a television studio run by Colosseum, but in 1991 the company went bankrupt. From 1992 to 2000 it was home to the Town and Country club. In 2001 following a 7 million refurbishment it opened as Creation nightclub but closed again in 2007. In November 2007 it opened as the Leeds Academy and was rebranded the following year as the O2 Academy.
Click images to enlarge
Map, 1908
Map, 1908
Coliseum, drawing
Coliseum, drawing
Programme, 1886
Programme, 1886
The Coliseum (Gaumont Cinema), 1946
The Coliseum (Gaumont Cinema), 1946




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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003