Royal Casino


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Venue Type & Location

Music Hall

Site Name: Royal Casino
Location: Leeds
County: Yorkshire: West Riding
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location


  • Address: King Charles's Croft, next to the Princess Theatre (site now part of the Headrow Shopping Centre). For a current map, Click Here. For an historical map (1908) showing the venue (then called the Theatre Royal), Click Here.

  • Alternate Names: Royal Alhambra (c.1856-62), Royal Amphitheatre (c.1862-1876), Theatre Royal (post-1876).

  • Performance Space Description: Information about this venue has not yet been compiled; however, some sense of the performance space may be gleaned by following the links at right. In particular:

  • See the 'Bibliographic Sources' link for a provisional list of venue-relevant resources (both primary and secondary). Wherever possible (i.e. when the pertinent text is relatively short and/or easily condensed) this material has been transcribed, and appears beneath the appropriate bibliographic citation.

  • See the 'Events at venue' link for a listing of blackface/minstrelsy-related events that took place in this performance space (with attached bibliographic references).

    Beth Marquis

  • Events at Royal Casino

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Minstrel Show 8 April 1850 - 13 April 1850 Leeds, Yorkshire: West Riding Harlow, Mr. & Mrs.
    Variety 23 September 1850 - 28 September 1850 Leeds, Yorkshire: West Riding Juba (1850-1851)
    Minstrel Show 30 September 1850 - 5 October 1850 Leeds, Yorkshire: West Riding Jones, a Negro Melodist
    Exhibition 24 March 1851 - 29 March 1851 Leeds, Yorkshire: West Riding No Troupe
    Variety 7 April 1851 - 12 April 1858 Leeds, Yorkshire: West Riding Ceda (1848)
    Minstrel Show 30 June 1851 - 5 July 1851 Leeds, Yorkshire: West Riding Christer [sic?], Emmet &c, Negro Melodists
    Exhibition 27 October 1851 - 1 November 1851 Leeds, Yorkshire: West Riding Greaves - the Giant Nigger

    Bibliographic Sources

    • Discovering Leeds Website. 09/14/2008 (

      “1848- Joseph Hobson opened the Casino next door to the Princess. The Casino became a theatre, called the Royal Alhambra, and later the Royal Amphitheatre.”

      Under Amphitheatre, Theatre Royal: “In 1848, William Schuking Thorne opened his New Theatre (Princess theatre) in a small wooden building in King Charles Croft. Joseph Hobson rented the plot of land next to the theatre from Thorne, and built the Leeds Casino and Concert Hall, one of the first music halls in Britain. It cost 2pence to get into the Casino, and the money was returned in light refreshments. During the day Mrs. Hobson made ginger beer and confectionary to sell in the Casino in the evening, where she also managed the bar.

      The Casino had a bad name among the middle classes. When the Reverend Stalker and Samuel Barbour visited in 1851 to distribute religious literature, they found the audience 'gazing with zest on scenes, and listening with delight to sounds, which to us, at least, were both humiliating and appalling'. One of the acts at Hobson's Casino in late 1849 featured James Ellis, a gymnast. Later he became manager of the Theatre Royal.

      In about 1856 Hobson extended the Casino into Lands Lane and re-named it The Royal Alhambra. A playbill from 1859 gives an example of the kind of entertainment put on there; it features, among other things, 'Mr. Edwin and his performing Dogs'. Hobson wanted to put on plays rather than music hall items, and he obtained a dramatic licence to do this in 1861, when he changed the name of the theatre to the New Amphitheatre. Sometime between 1862 and 1864 the name was changed to the Royal Amphitheatre. [...]

      The Royal Amphitheatre was destroyed by fire in 1876, just a year after the old Theatre Royal on Hunslet Lane was burned down. Hobson rebuilt The Amphitheatre, and re-named it the Theatre Royal.”