A Visual Feast!

It’s the annual Heritage Open Days festival next week and, to celebrate, we’re bringing out some of the best prints and playbills from our archives. A large selection will be on display in Room 700 (formerly the Arts Space) in Leeds Central Library on Saturday 12 September, 1-4pm. Staff from the Local and Family History department will be on hand to offer background…

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…

Presented for your entertainment…

While looking through our playbill collection we were fascinated by the range of different acts which have been presented to audiences in Leeds over the years.  Here are just a few. The Theatre, which was on Hunslet Lane, opened in 1771 with room for 600 people. Most of the plays performed were comedies, or comic operas,…

Famous Last Words

When they decided to stage a production of the historical tragedy Jane Shore in the summer of 1817, no one at the Leeds Theatre suspected that a very real tragedy was about to strike. Here’s a scan of the original playbill – now nearly 200 years old – advertising that dramatic night. It’s one of…

Pablo is Coming!

Marking the end of Black History month this week we are sharing three playbills from our collections featuring Pablo Fanque, Britain’s first black circus owner. Born William Darby on 28th February 1796 in Norwich he joined the circus in 1810 as an apprentice to William Batty who owned a small travelling circus. He was known as…

Early Theatre in Leeds

We have a lot of fantastic theatres and entertainment on offer in Leeds now but how did it all start? From our playbills collection you can get an idea of some of the earliest theatre entertainment. The first theatre was built in Leeds in 1771 prior to which Leeds had relied on travelling companies of…