Step into Leeds’ theatrical past with new heritage walking trail


Leeds’ rich theatrical history can now be easily explored on foot using a new heritage walking trail.

The ‘Theatres Through Time’ heritage trail features 10 key sites that tell the story of Leeds in stages, from the building of its first one in the late 1700s, to today’s thriving theatrical scene.

The featured locations have been graced by some of the biggest stars in the history of show business, including Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Frankie Vaughan and Anna Pavlova.

While still a University of Leeds undergraduate student, Dominique Triggs spent two summers investigating the city’s current and past theatres for the trail, which is a joint project between the University and Leeds City Council.

Dominique, who graduated in the summer, said: “Leeds’ theatrical history is diverse and compelling and explains where its current theatres originated from.

“We wanted to introduce this heritage to new audiences and inspire them to get out there and investigate this fascinating aspect of the city’s history for themselves.”

The scholarship has helped me develop lots of useful new skills, as well as giving me a unique insight into the city’s past.

Dominique Triggs

Dominique also found out about some of the more spooky residents of Leeds theatres.

“I’ve been told that the O2 Academy, which used to be called The Coliseum, is haunted by the ghost of a 19th century circus master, and that The Grand Theatre has a ghost called the Lavender Lady,” she said.

The project was overseen by Dr Laura King in the School of History, who said: “This heritage trail is a great piece of work that will introduce many people to a really important part of Leeds history – and hopefully encourage them to find out more about the stories and places featured on the trail.”

Dominique received an Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship, a scheme which funds exceptional students to get an early experience of research. The scholarships are funded through donations from alumni and friends of the University of Leeds and enable students to work during their vacation on a research project supervised by leading academics.

She said: “The scholarship provided me with the opportunity to carry out my own research across two summer breaks, and has helped me develop lots of useful new skills, as well as giving me a unique insight into the city’s past.”

Dr King added: “The scholarships provide a great opportunity for undergraduate students to really get to grips with a research project of their own.”

  • Copies of the trail are available from the Leeds Visitor Centre, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA. It can also be downloaded here
  • Other Leeds heritage walking trails are available in the same series, including the Leeds History of Medicine Trail, the Leeds Industrial Heritage Trail and the Leeds Potts Clocks Heritage Trail. The medicine trail was also researched by University of Leeds students. 

Further information

Journalists requiring further information should contact Gareth Dant in the University of Leeds press office on 0113 34 33996 or by emailing