Community take over set to bring Yeadon Town Hall back to life

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For 140 years it has been at the heart of Yeadon and served the community from registering deaths to raucous nights at the theatre.

And after a period of neglect and "just existing", Yeadon Town Hall today begins a journey that will secure its use for future generations, putting it back in the hands of the locals that love it.

The 140 year old Yeadon Town Hall, which was officially taken over today (Monday) by the Yeadon Town Hall Community Interest Company.

The 140 year old Yeadon Town Hall, which was officially taken over today (Monday) by the Yeadon Town Hall Community Interest Company.

It was officially taken over by the Yeadon Town Hall Community Interest Company (CIC) after an arduos three years of meetings, legal paperwork, business planning and community consultation to take control of the building from Leeds City Council.

And they have wasted no time in making their vision a reality with decoraters already at work in the theatre to restore it to the original colour scheme while a zumba class whirls around one of the down stairs studios.

The director of Yeadon Town Hall CIC, Jamie Hudson, said: "We started working on this about three years ago with a view to giving the building some purpose, in the past it had just existed and was a bit neglected. People did not want to see the building shut and if we hadn't done this, the future would have been uncertain.

"There have been a lot of hurdles, we needed to make sure we were doing the right thing for the building and local people and, most recently the handover period has been difficult. Because it has been run by the council it isn't just a case of picking up the keys one day but it is here, seeing the decoraters at work is great and we can get on with what we wanted to do."

The beautiful stained glass windows will be revealed once again and restored.

The beautiful stained glass windows will be revealed once again and restored.

That is to bring Yeadon Town Hall back to life with Restoration 2020 - a £100,000 programme of repairs which include major redecoration throughout, replacing flooring and curtains, refurbishing the kitchen and bathrooms, revamping the bar to provide a larger and more welcoming space for patrons to enjoy a pre-show drink, refurbishing the 90-year-old heating system, improving the main auditorium by increasing the stage depth, new stage rigging equipment and professional stage flooring.

There are also plans to create additional dressing rooms and backstage areas, a new accessible reception desk and box office that will be open during the day and before events, and a VIP lounge bar.

Other more long-term projects include restoration of the clock tower, repair work to the roof, exterior walls and stained glass windows.

It is hoped that in turn the Town Hall can become a professional performance venue, while also having music and art workshops to encourage and develop its bread and butter amateur dramatic groups - which for years have been the mainstay of activities at Yeadon Town Hall.

The theatre is set to become the life and soul of the Town Hall programme of events.

The theatre is set to become the life and soul of the Town Hall programme of events.

Mr Hudson, 31, added: "I have been involved for years and my sister was in the pantomimes in the late 1980s which is a long Yeadon tradition. For a lot of families in Yeadon there has been that involvement and association for generations and if you back there are parents and grandparents.

"It has been used by everyone in the community. They will be glad to see the visual things like the window, new paint - they are the things people talk about and make a difference."

What's next?

An open day will be held on Saturday April 13 (12pm-4pm) where people can meet the team behind the Town Hall CIC team, learn more about the project, share memories and suggestions and find out how they can support the Restoration 2020 project - as well as try a pint of the exclusive Town Hall Blonde in the bar.

Jamie Hudson, director of the Yeadon Town Hall CIC, and his dog Wilma.

Jamie Hudson, director of the Yeadon Town Hall CIC, and his dog Wilma.

The Wall of Fame is a way that people can show their support by buying a plaque with their name, group or organisation and message which will take pride of place in the Town Hall Bar when it is refurbished.

History

Yeadon Town Hall was opened in 1889 and was built and owned by the then local district council. It was designed by architect William Hill and is in French/Gothic style. Its purpose at the time was as a place to register births, deaths and marriages, a court was held here, there was a library, school room and public baths in the cellars. It was removed from the control of Yeadon Urban District Council in 1980 and was taken on by Leeds City Council.

Three years ago Yeadon Town Hall CIC started the process of taking over the building to be run as a community venture and the keys were officially handed over today.