FOR NEARLY 140 years Yeadon Town Hall has been a focal point for the local community.

Built in the Victorian era when philanthropy and civic pride were strong it has been a central gathering place ever since.

And now its future looks secure for at least decades to come after the decision by Leeds City Council to sign the building over to Yeadon Town Hall Community Interest Company on a 50 year lease.

Jamie Hudson, who spearheaded the deal, said the town hall would remain a community asset for future generations.

Built between 1879 and 1880, the town hall also housed the mechanics institute. The building was designed by acclaimed architect William Hill who was also responsible for Portsmouth and Bolton Town Halls. The cost was to be raised by public subscription.

Mr Hudson said: “Over the years, the Town Hall has had many roles and facilities, which have adapted in line with demand. Some early features of the hall included pubic bathing facilities, where people could pay a shilling to wash, public lavatories, council chambers for the Airebrough Urban District Council, tax office, library, school rooms, concert hall and refreshment room.

“The original use of the main hall was to host major civic events and concerts. In line with traditional Victorian public halls, Yeadon Town Hall was built with large choir risers and a small stage, which was originally accessed from a set of steps in the middle of the stage. By the mid 1940’s the hall was adapted to the layout we are familiar with today. At that point, the council chambers were converted into the bar-room, however many of the chamber benches are still dotted around the hall in various places.

“In 1950 the hall was refurbished and modernised and sadly many of the original Victorian features were removed or hidden. “By 1979 the consolidation of Urban Councils within Leeds City Council meant that the future of the hall was doubtful and uncertain. However, through community support, the hall was re-opened again in 1980 to celebrate it’s centenary.

“Fast forward to 1998, major electrical faults within the hall’s decaying electrics meant that the future of Yeadon Town Hall again looked uncertain and the town hall closed. Through the campaigning of several active users of the hall through the Town Hall Users Group, Leeds City Council refurbished the building throughout, spending considerable money replacing the electrics and much of the infrastructure throughout the building.

He added: “Nineteen years later to the present date, the grand old lady is still standing in the heart of Yeadon as she has done for nearly 140 years. Even though looking slightly tired and worn in places, the future of Yeadon Town Hall is looking very exciting as we now embark on a major restoration project to make the building fit for another 50 years.”