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The Queen's Theatre

The Queens theatre was built in 1898 on a plot of at the junction of Meadow Lane and Jack Lane in Holbeck. It was the first theatre in Leeds to be built south of the river, since Tate Wilkinson opened his theatre in Hunslet Lane in 1771. By this time there was access by bus from the city centre, and it was hoped that it would attract playgoers from the northern suburbs, as well as those living within walking distance.

The auditorium could accommodate 3,500 people, and as reported in the Leeds Mercury, 'the interior decorations, and the appearance of the theatre will be found not only handsome, but essentially artistic, tasteful, and grateful to the eye.' The building also contained refreshment rooms, sixteen drawing rooms, and two shops. The proprietors were Messrs. Dottridge and Longden, and Charles Bush and
T. Harvey Jessop were the managers.

The theatre opened on Christmas Eve, 1898 with a performance of the pantomime Dick Whittington, starring Clara Clifton as the principal boy and Bertha Cadman as Alice. Plays of all kinds were put on at the Queen's, as well as variety shows. Gracie Fields made her first appearance in Leeds there during the war, when she starred in 'Mr. Tower of London.'

The Queen's could not compete with the cinema, however, and it closed as a theatre on 17th July 1924 with a performance of 'The Last Week', a variety show. It was converted to a cinema and opened again on 1st December, 1924. In the early 1930s, half hour variety shows were put on as well as films. In 1937 the old gallery and the boxes were removed, and the circle made into a waiting area.

After the war, audience numbers were reduced by competition from television. Also, people moved away from the area as the houses in the old slums were demolished. The Queen's theatre closed in 1957, and was demolished in 1968.



Click images to enlarge
Map, 1908
Map, 1908
Queen's Theatre
Queen's Theatre
The auditorium, 1901
The auditorium, 1901
Playbill for the opening night
Playbill for the opening night




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