The Music Hall (1858)

The Music Hall (1858)
Covered Entrance, Albion Street and Trinity Arcade
On the 14th December 1858 a meeting was held at the Music Hall on Albion Street to protest against the British opium trade with India and China. The meeting was chaired by Edward Baines and gentlemen including Arthur Lupton, William Hey and Wilson Armistead were in attendance. The meeting heard how the opium trade was the source of “much misery and demoralisation” to the inhabitants of China. Resolutions were passed and it was agreed to petition Parliament – condemning the trade and calling for its suppression.

Advertisement for a public meeting to protest the British opium trade with China. Extract from the Leeds Times, December 11, 1858
Extract from the Leeds Mercury, 16 December, 1858

The meeting first heard from Baines who entered his protest against the continuation of the opium trade and quoted missionary and other authorities. The first resolution was moved by the Rev. J. Blomefield and seconded by the Rev. T. Hincks and read as follows:

That the British opium trade to China is the source of much misery and demoralisation to the inhabitants of that empire; that the character of the trade and the means by which it has been carried on, have on just grounds proved a cause of offence and irritation to the Chinese, and have during many years embittered the intercourse between the two nations; and that the peculiar connection of he British Government with the opium trade, through its strict monopoly of the production of the opium in India, renders the Government and the people of this country (more especially under the altered circumstances of their relations to India) responsible in the sight of God and man for the inhumanity and immorality of this traffic.
(Leeds Times, 18 December 1858)

This resolution was carried and a second moved by Mr R. N. Fowler, treasurer of the Church Evangelization Society:

That the opium trade is a great obstacle to the introduction of British manufactures and other lawful and mutually beneficial merchandise into China; that it presents one of the greatest impediments to the reception of the Bible and to the spread of Christianity in that empire, and that it is a scandal in the eyes of foreign nations, both heathen and Christian.
(Leeds Times, 18 December 1858)

View of the location of the Music Hall on Albion Street, c1900. The hall opened in 1792 and closed in 1870. Image here shows the Denby and Spinks furniture company who moved to this location in 1876. (c) Leeds Library and Information Service,

All resolutions were unanimously passed and it was agreed that a petition, founded on the resolutions, was adopted and a committee was appointed to obtain signatures for it. The petition would then be forwarded to Lord Carlisle and the Right Hon. M. T. Baines, for presentation to both Houses of Parliament.

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