Leeds nostalgia: City Varieties sold to council in 1987

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Leeds City Varieties, Britain’s oldest theatre was put up for sale.

It was announced by the Joseph family, who have controlled the theatre for nearly 50 of it’s 225 year existence.

It’s co-director brothers Michael (right) and Stanley Joseph placed sale notices in both Leeds and London newspapers for the 686-seat theatre on May 11, 1987.

It was eventually bought by Leeds City Council and leased to Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd. Peter Sandeman was appointed as general manager.

It closed in January 2009 after securing Heritage Lottery funding, which enabled a complete refurbishment of its interior. Floorboards were taken up, seating was replaced, chandeliers cleaned and even some of the old bricked up windows (blocked up when buildings were taxed on the number of windows they had) were restored.

The theatre reopened in September 2011 with seating for 467.

The City Varieties actually began as a singing room attached to the White Swan Inn, which was built in 1760. It was rebuilt under Charles Thornton circa 1856.

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