A 1950s Night on the Town

This week at the Secret Library we’re taking you on a wild night out in the company of the Three Peaks Club, a Leeds-based hiking society formed in 1944 by a small group of students. Over the years, the club grew in size, completing a walk of all three Yorkshire Peaks every March, camping out in the Dales each June, and enjoying social events through the autumn. January was the time for a big night out ‘in town’, however, and this account comes from The Three Peaks Club Log on 9 January 1956…

“A meal up to the usual excellent standard was consumed at Whitelocks and after a short visit to McConnell’s* the party wended its way up to The Ship Inn where Pierre Duval of the Tennant’s Arms is now in command.

The interior of Whitelocks pub, little changed since 1880, where the Three Peaks Club began its night on the town with dinner.
The interior of Whitelocks pub, little changed since 1880, where the Three Peaks Club began the night with dinner. (Photo from www.leodis.net)

“Pierre joined the group and after a drink or two all entered The Palace of Varieties where the entertainment was just about to commence. An interesting programme appeared to improve progressively as the evening passed by. This phenomenon is difficult to explain unless it be connected in some manner with the close proximity of the circle bar. At all events a certain amount of time was spent by most members in this bar. 

Comedy, magic and glamour girls made up the bill of GIRLS YOU'RE GORGEOUS, the 'hot' show that the members of the Three Peaks Club would have enjoyed on their night out on the town on 9 January 1956.
Comedy, magic and glamour girls made up the bill of City Varieties’ GIRLS YOU’RE GORGEOUS, the ‘hot’ show the club members would have seen on their night out on 9 January 1956.

“When the programme was over most of the party returned home by car in dense fog but a few, more intrepid than the rest retired to The Ship where Pierre proved once more his renowned hospitality. Later the select group of drinkers were joined by the Principal Boy and the Principal Girl from the Leeds Empire pantomime. The Principal Boy proved to be an adept at the art of telling jokes and had the whole group in fits of laughter.

“The party eventually broke up and Mr. Clough’s group departed with three other members in the Standard 8 together with the Principal Boy in the rear of our car conveniently sandwiched between Seabrook & Midgeley.**

This is
MOTHER GOOSE was the Empire’s pantomime running throughout January in 1956. Perhaps Jane Kimm was one of the actresses who joined the club members at their table in the Ship Inn.

“Having safely deposited the glamorous female at her place of residence in Coburg Street course was set in dense fog for Keighley. Progressing slowly down Kirkstall Road, however, the entourage was hailed by a solitary female of comely proportion. Nothing loth the vehicle was brought to a standstill and yet another beautiful girl was seated upon the knees of the two members in the rear of the car.

“The girl turned out to be a French Canadian who considered herself rather attractive and seemed determined to prove it to the astonished delight of the passengers upon whose knee she was sitting. She eventually disembarked, thanking the driver of the car by means of a warm embrace and the remainder of the journey was completed under great difficulties owing to the poor visibility.”

If you’d like to read more of the club’s adventures, the Club Log is held in the Local and Family History Library at shelf mark YQ 796.51 THR. The playbills shown also come from our collection, many of which can be viewed online at Leeds Playbills.

* Users of our photographic website, Leodis, have shared some interesting memories of the long-gone drinking establishment McConnell’s.

** John L. Midgeley was the club’s President, 1955-56, and Wikipedia can help you out if you’re wondering what a Standard Eight was.

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