Video: Leeds’s City Varieties takes a bow for its 150th birthday

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It’s played host to everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Houdini to Tommy Cooper and Barbara Windsor.

Today, however, it was the turn of Leeds’s City Varieties Music Hall to take centre stage as it celebrated its 150th birthday.



An afternoon of indoor and outdoor entertainment was laid on for visitors to the famous old theatre, with visual artists, piano players, Victorian parlour games, craft activities and stage performances all contributing to a suitably uproarious atmosphere.

Special guests at the bash included showbiz favourites Billy Pearce, Bernie Clifton and Wendy King.

Leeds City Council’s deputy leader, Coun Lucinda Yeadon, was also on hand to cut a colourful birthday cake.

Speaking afterwards, she told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “The place is absolutely buzzing.

“There were about 200 people in the bar for the cake-cutting alone, it was hard to get through them all!

“This is one of the venues that helps give Leeds its character and its soul and it’s great to see it being celebrated.”

Leeds-born funnyman and City Varieties veteran Barry Cryer marked the occasion by sending staff at the theatre a handwritten poem.

It included the lines: “Oh, the memories, oh, the banter, and now the dear place is 150 years old, makes me feel young – my tale is told. I’m not with you today, alack, alas, so here in St Albans, I raise a glass.”

Congratulations were also passed on via Twitter from comedian Dara Ó Briain as well as Leeds’s Crash Records and the city’s Red Ladder Theatre Company.

The City Varieties can trace its roots back to an 18th century singing room that was attached to the White Swan pub, off Briggate.

It developed into a popular venue and the current theatre opened in 1865.

The Grade II listed building – for many years the home of TV’s The Good Old Days programme – recently underwent a £9.2m refurbishment.