Oh yes, that’s it! Yeadon panto over a century ago

WHEN the PANTO season returns, these captivating photos show scenes from productions staged more than a century ago.

They were all staged in a Yeadon theater that once prospered, but is now long gone.

The images, from the archives of the Aireborough Historical Society, were all taken at the old Theater Royal of Peoples Theater – known locally as the “Peeps”.

The AHS website says, “It was built in 1876 for the 1st Yeadon Amateur Dramatic Society and could seat 800 customers plus more on the balcony.

George Herbert Teale, a local businessman who played a prominent role in many local and civic affairs, was instrumental in building the theater.

“He suggested that members of the YADS put a weekly amount into a fund, this was supplemented by income from a shop, when £100 was reached the wooden building was erected.

“It was a popular location until 1915, when the Council refused a public performance permit because the balcony was unsafe.

“It was then used as a drilling hall for local volunteers until the end of World War I. A Mr Wade of Apperley Lane bought the theater at auction and the next owner was ‘Tinner’ Harrison of Yeadon.”

The property’s new owner had gotten his nickname because he manufactured all types of cans, including pans and darkroom lamps for photographers.

He turned the theater into a covered market with stalls selling vegetables, fish, meat, poultry, sheets, clothes and sweets.

He used the changing rooms as his offices and works.

The AHS website says: “One of the stall holders was Norman Warren, who sold fruit and vegetables, he bought the ‘Peeps’ from the Harrison’s around 1940, and it was later destroyed by fire and finally demolished in 1957.

Tinner and his family lived in what was known as the Bacon Factory on Yeadon High Street, it is believed that when he acquired the property it was a bacon processor and home.

They later moved to the Haw. There were 8 children, Edward, Harold (played cricket for Yorkshire as a bowler), Arthur, Clifford (he followed his father into the canning industry), George, Frances, Kate and Hilda.

“The house on Haw Street came with land and fields. ‘Tinner’ was also a local Methodist lay preacher. He is buried in Yeadon cemetery.”

A photo of two young girls in Aladdin shows Evelyn Bailey and Dolly Waterhouse playing regularly at the Peeps in the early 1900s.

Another photo shows a group of pantomime fairies posing with fans in Aladdin, which was staged in 1912.

Also in Aladdin were Hilda Dennison and Margaret Bailey and another image shows an unidentified man acting as the Grand Visier.

Sinbad was staged at the theater in 1913. The Yeadon Amateur Dramatic Society production featured two characters ‘Salt and Brine’ featured here who were played by Dick Lupton and Tilly Windus.

Another image shows a large group of children who appeared in Sinbad. They are – back row from left to right, Kathleen Lupton, Emily Bailey, Ethel Parker, Ivy Bailey, Alice Jackson. Front row from left to right, Dolly Waterhouse, Evelyn Bailey, Lena Dennison, Ethel Ives, Ida Webster and Rosie Myers.

An undated image shows two girls appearing in a pantomime presented at the Yeadon Theater. One of them is known as Lizzie Surr. The photo was probably taken between 1909 and 1912.

The Peeps was the location for Cinderella in 1911 and a trio from that production is pictured. Charlotte Marshall (center) is seen with Miriam Gibbs and Nellie Webster. The girls are described as the ‘CLMOLO’ Trio.

Pantomime has its origins in ‘Commedia dell’Arte’, a 16th century Italian entertainment featuring music, dance, slapstick comedy and acrobatics – themes that will be familiar to audiences today.

In late Victorian London, there were lavish productions with huge casts and stunning costumes, lasting up to five hours.

It has become customary for pantomimes to open on Boxing Day.

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