Tuesday, 23 March 2010

City Varieties makeover well underway

Caption: Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Andrew Carter (top image on left) and executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter examining and helping clean the royal crest above the stage, while in the second shot they are joined by Site Manager for contractors BAM Construction Stuart Gibbons

Work is now well underway on a project to restore the world-famous Leeds City Varieties back to its former glory.

The first phase of the £9.2m renovation and restoration of the building on Swan Street which is one of the oldest surviving Victorian-era music halls in the UK began at the start of the year.

Contractors BAM Construction are now hard at work carrying out the major project which will see the building returned as much as possible to how it looked in the late 19th century.

The project, overseen by Leeds City Council with significant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd, will see the restoration of the auditorium, improved stage and backstage facilities, additional toilets, improved access including more ground floor foyer space, a relocated box office and installation of a public lift to serve all levels of the auditorium.

Leeds City Varieties was built in 1865 and was originally called ‘Thornton’s New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge’ after its founder Charles Thornton. The legendary names to have performed there include Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Mickey Rooney and Norman Wisdom, while it was also home to the popular BBC television show ‘The Good Old Days’ for 30 years from 1953 to 1983.

Leader of Leeds City Council and executive board member for Development and Regeneration Councillor Andrew Carter said:

“As a council we were committed to securing Heritage Lottery Funding to help with the complete renovation of the City Varieties and it’s great to see that the project is now well underway. The Leeds City Varieties is known all over the world and is one the best-loved buildings in the city, so we cannot wait to see this renovation and restoration completed and the doors open to the public once again.”

Chair of the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Board Councillor John Procter
“It is hugely encouraging to see the progress that has been made in just a few weeks and it is going to be really exciting watching this project as it develops. We are determined to make this amazing building look better than ever and we are confident that once completed it will be a wonderful place to visit and take in a show just as it has been for nearly 150 years.”

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and the Humber Fiona Spiers said:

"The City Varieties, one of the country's best-loved music halls, is held in great affection by the people of Leeds. The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to be supporting this redevelopment project; now that work is underway we look forward to seeing the building restored back to its original Victorian splendour."

Following the completion of the project, the refurbished Leeds City Varieties is scheduled to reopen in summer 2011.

Notes to editors:

The refurbishment scheme has been made possible through funds of £5.325m from Leeds City Council, the £2.739m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £1.261m contribution from the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd which is being raised through a fundraising campaign. Anyone wishing to contribute should visit www.cityvarieties.co.uk or contact 0113 391 7777 or City Varieties Music Hall, 24 Eastgate, Leeds LS2 7JL.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk