Restoration of Yeadon Town Hall unveiled as 132 year-old building given new lease of life

It once served as the place to register deaths, hold court cases, borrow books and teach local youngsters.

By Emma Ryan
Saturday, 31st July 2021, 4:45 am

Yeadon Town Hall was built 132 years ago and served many purposes but will be most fondly remembered for hosting some of the top touring acts of the time and some raucous theatre nights.

However, over recent years it fell into a state of disrepair, was neglected and the imposing structure which pins the heart of Yeadon, "just existed", until a Community Interest Company, spearheaded by local people who wanted to secure the historical building's future stepped in.

That was in 2017. It took them a further two years to take over management of Yeadon Town Hall and a further two years to complete a massive restoration - the results of which were unveiled yesterday, making it the third largest theatre space in Leeds.

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Yeadon Town Hall.

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One of the restoration highlights included removing its 1950s ceiling in the redesigned bar area to reveal its original double-height Victorian ceilings and stained-glass windows which had been hidden for half a century.

Jamie Hudson, managing director of Yeadon Town Hall CIC, said: “It’s been a long journey, but an incredibly worthwhile one to see this beautiful building at its best. We have an exciting programme of events and shows in the coming months, and are proud to drive the creative cultural and tourism appeal of Yeadon. This building is also the valuable heart of our community, as an accessible space for local groups to use.”

With the lifting of lockdown restrictions earlier this month, a varied programme of events has been announced from August until December 2021, featuring comedy, variety clubs, community markets, brass bands, speciality acts and concerts, as well as Oktoberfest.

Jamie Hudson, Managing Director of Yeadon Town Hall.

Community activities, attended by more than 500 people a week, include social groups for the elderly, with bingo, quizzes, and refreshments.

Yeadon Town Hall will also be the official home of the newly reformed Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra (YSO).orchestra, which aims to be the musical and cultural voice for Yorkshire and the north of England.

Mr Hudson added: “The pandemic has been detrimental to the arts and events industry. But the local community has really risen to the challenge. The community asset transfer has been a huge success. We’re grateful to all the individuals, volunteers and businesses who have supported us, alongside Leeds City Council for their ongoing support to deliver the essential external repairs of the building. There is an amazing team of volunteers who help with its running. We have exciting plans for the future of our community and arts hub.”

As a social enterprise, a £100k loan from the social investor, Key Fund, in 2018 kick-started internal repairs, and the project has also been supported by the Graham & Diane Smith Charitable Trust. Leeds City Council supported the transformation with over £750,000 to repair the exterior of the building, including its roof and clocktower. The CIC also received an emergency grant from the Arts Council during COVID-19.

From the archives, an old production at Yeadon Town Hall.

Coun Mary Harland, executive member for Communities at Leeds City Council, said: “The virus has taught us how much we rely on our local communities. Yeadon Town Hall was the centre of the town for over 140 years, and there’s a renewed appetite for the venue.

"As a hub, it’s brought the community closer during COVID-19 with its successful community markets, café and pop-up bar. It’s a fantastic asset, and promises to be a vital contribution to the local economy.”

Jamie Hudson from Yeadon Town Hall at one of the 23 repaired stained glass windows.
Jamie Hudson and Coun Mary Harland on stage with the Emily Cornell School of Dance.