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After over 30 years of meetings, planning and building, Guiseley Town Hall was officially opened on the 26th December 1867 to the sound of Handels 'Messiah'. Now, over 150 years later, this magnificent building starts its next chapter.  

Guiseley Theatre (née Guiseley Town Hall) has a fascinating and rich history of meeting the needs of the ever changing community of Guiseley. Ever since the initial idea of the building  in 1836, it has had the weight of the people of Guiseley behind it, including famous Guiseleyites such as Abraham Moon, Matthew Corbett and Barney Colehan, who all have their very own stories intertwined in the building. 


However, we owe the creation of the building to another, not so well known Guiseleyite. Sir Matthew William Thompson is the man who spearheaded the building of Guiseley Theatre. Thompson rallied up the people of Victorian Guiseley asking for Subscriptions and donations from the town, from as little as a shilling, raising a total of £373.  Thompson then paid the remaining £2548 needed to complete the building, and on the 26th December 1867, declared Guiseley Town hall open and, crucially, gifted the deeds "for the use of the inhabitants of Guiseley forever" and insisted that this building be a place where every person felt they 'had the right to be there, regardless of politics,  religion or belief'. 

Since then, Guiseley Theatre has been at the heart of the community through coronations, wars, celebrations, meetings, events and theatre, creating memories for generations of Guiseley people.  

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To preserve the rich history of the Guiseley Theatre building

by enabling people to understand and appreciate the area they inhabit


To develop the Theatre building to achieve it's maximum potential

by making the building fully accessible and suitable for the needs of its users


To become an enabling organisation

by enabling users to make a direct impact on the community


To be a home for community organisations

To provide community organisations with a space to run on a day to day basis, rehearse and create and act as a hub for their organisation


To enable the use of the building by the community

by providing state of the art facilities for users enabling cultural, educational, social and recreational activities to proliferate thereby enabling them to achieve their full potential and make a stronger positive impact on the local community


Seek to attract national awareness

by bringing national companies and entities to the Theatre enabling them to bring culture and arts to Guiseley and develop the perceived character of the town.


Volunteer involvement

Increasing the level of volunteer involvement will help Guiseley Theatre to develop as a valuable community asset

Guiseley Theatre CIC  now runs and operates the building and has radical plans to redevelop this wonderful community hub and make the building fit to serve the Guiseley community in the 21st century. We are on the verge of an ambitious new phase in the life of the theatre and as Matthew William Thompson did in the 1800's, we will be appealing to the people of Guiseley and the surrounding area to help make this happen. 

Continuing Thompson's vision, Guiseley Theatre CIC are dedicated to making this building a place where everyone feels they have the right to be there, a place that the inhabitants of Guiseley feel they can take ownership of and a place that the community can use and engage with through high quality culture and art. This is reflected in the company aims:


Guiseley Theatre CIC are in the process of applying for a long lease from Leeds City Council who own the building which would enable major renovations to occur. This is a lengthy process which involves fundraising, structural and electrical surveys, negotiations and requires public support.

Listed below are the initial concept plans that Guiseley Theatre CIC have collated, detailing where they see the building to be  in the future as a target for redevelopment.  These drawings will ultimately be passed to architects to be realised and will undoubtedly change through out the process, but they give an indication as to the ideas of how the building could be developed. On each plan below, the existing building footprint is outlined in red. 


Currently inaccessible via wheel chair, the ground floor would become a hive of activity throughout the day with features including:

  • A permanent ramp

  • A cafe open throughout the day 

  • An in-house, manned, box office, open daily

  • A purpose built bar space that can accommodate a 'full house' and open to the public throughout the week

  • A second stair case and a front of house lift for public to access all floors

  • Additional toilets

  • Permanent dressing rooms and green room 

  • Meeting spaces on the ground floor

  • A catering standard kitchen

  • A sizeable loading bay and workshop with storage space

  • A working lift for furniture, scenery and equipment



The second floor would not be a public space, but an area used for rehearsal and creating.

  • 2 large rehearsal studios with facilities such as mirrored walls and ballet bars

  • Removable wall to form one large space

  • adaptable space that could be used for exhibitions and gallery space

  • Additional toilets at circle level

  • the possibility of adding additional rooms on this floor, i.e. a wardrobe dept



The 3rd floor would become a place where the building is managed, with staff facilities and office space

  • Open plan office space with hire-able office space

  • Meeting room

  • Staff break space

  •  Additional toilets



The first floor is our main auditorium space that currently is accessible via stair or stair lift. Our redevelopment plans would bring about changes such as:

  • Additional lobby space with a bar 

  • Additional toilets

  • Improved theatre tech facilities

  • A second performance space in the form of a studio theatre

  • Access between new building and existing building would be through current fire exits.

  • Much of the existing building remains unchanged, with Victorian features emphasised



With the stage currently being on a rake, it proves problematic and prevents professional theatre tours from using the space. Future plans include:

  • Levelling the stage and introducing a modular layout to improve the flexibility of the space

  • Building a passage at the back of the stage to provide a clear path from one side to the other without crossing the stage

  • a removable proscenium arch that would be in keeping with the Victorian features of the building but can be removed to allow for more versatile theatre sets

  • Working lift and ramp up to stage level to aid get ins and get outs


To kick start the funds to begin this process, we have taken inspiration from the Guiseley folk of the 1860's and set a target of £3730, Ten times the amount they raised 153 years ago. Click here to donate via Just Giving.




Your feedback, comments and suggestions will be vital to the success of this redevelopment. With real effort and awareness, we can build momentum to bring these plans to fruition. If you have any thoughts regarding our vision, please share them below, or contact us via the contact page

If you require any further information, or are inspired by our passion and want to help these plans come to light, then get in touch to discuss volunteering with the theatre, or donating to our cause.

Follow our progress on social media 

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