Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds City Varieties reopens with gala performance

Leeds City Varieties
Image caption The £9.9m refurbishment has been carried out to replicate the 1890s style

A Grade II*-listed Victorian music hall in West Yorkshire has reopened with a gala performance after a £9.9m refurbishment.

Renovation on the City Varieties in Leeds began in 2009 and was carried out in the style of the 1890s.

The fundraising performance on Sunday evening featured comedian Ken Dodd.

The Varieties theatre was the home of The Good Old Days, the BBC's long-running TV variety show for over 30 years.

Once there were more than 300 such theatres nationwide but few now remain in working existence.

The work has been part-funded by Leeds City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, with donations from the Friends of City Varieties and The Monument Trust.

Harry Houdini

A donation was made by the family of the late Jimi Heselden, who made his fortune with his Leeds-based firm Hesco Bastion.

The auditorium will be named after Mr Heselden who died in September 2010 after an accident on a Segway near his home at Boston Spa.

Facilities for audiences and performers have been improved with new seats, a glass lift and technical equipment installed.

Charles Thornton opened his New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge in 1865 above a public house in a Leeds side street.

The City Varieties - as it later became known - has survived virtually unchanged.

Its stage has hosted Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Lillie Langtry, Mickey Rooney, Frankie Vaughan and Barry Cryer.

It was in 1953 that the Varieties became the home of The Good Old Days.

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