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The Civic Theatre, Cookridge Street, Leeds

Formerly - The Albert Hall - Later The Civic Playhouse - The Leeds City Museum

Leeds Theatres Index

A Google StreetView Image of the Leeds City Museum, formerly the Albert Hall and Civic Playhouse - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Leeds City Museum, formerly the Albert Hall and Civic Playhouse - Click to Interact


The Civic Theatre on Cookridge Street, Leeds occupied part of a building which was originally built in 1865 by Cuthbert & Brodrick, who also built the Leeds Town Hall. The building opened as the Mechanical Institution and Literary Society in 1868 and included a library, study room, reading rooms, and an art galley on the first floor, which also included some rooms which were used by the City's School of Design. The main part of this large building however, was a circular lecture hall called the Albert Hall, and it was this that eventually became the Civic Theatre. There is some archive material for the Albert Hall here.

In 1925 the Albert Hall was taken over by the British Drama League who renamed the space the Civic Playhouse, opening with a performance of 'Overture' which was a comedy by Sutton Vane. The Theatre was free to enter and was funded by collections taken before or after the performance, and also by subscription system.

In 1949 a Proscenium was added to the Theatre and dressing rooms were added either side of the stage, taking up most of the Wing Space in the process. None of this was very satisfactory and in 1983 the 1949 Proscenium was replaced with a new wooden and plasterboard one which was much more in keeping with the original building. At the same time the stage dressing rooms were removed and new ones were constructed behind the stage.

In 2005 all the theatrical groups who were using the building were moved out so that it could be converted into a new museum for the city of Leeds. The Leeds Civic Arts Guild who were the main theatrical group using the Civic Theatre were relocated to their own new premises in Leed's Millenium Square called The Carriageworks.

The Leeds City Museum has now opened in the former Albert Hall and Civic Theatre and its own website can be found here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.