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County Arcade And Cross Arcade


Although not itself a theatre, the County Arcade must be included here as one of Matcham’s finest contributions to public architecture and the remnant of a large city block development which included his splendid Empire Palace Theatre.

The Empire was demolished in 1961 but the arcade remains complete in itself. The undistinguished building which replaced the theatre has now itself been replaced (1996) by a building which makes a rather better job of healing the gash in the townscape.

The County Arcade is one of the most impressive of its kind in Britain, in opulent Victorian Baroque manner in terracotta, iron, glass and coloured mosaic. A secondary arcade which crosses it at right angles (Cross Arcade) forms the approach to what has been at various times a ballroom and a restaurant.

The traces of the Empire are now slight, but the arcades are in sparkling condition. The unique concentration of arcades of different periods in Leeds has recently been joined by an entirely new one, formed by roofing over the next street off Briggate and named after the vanished Empire.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • : Shopping arcade never used as theatre
Current state
Current use
Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
Further details
Other names
Empire Palace (adjoined)
  • Use: Shopping arcade never used as theatre
  • 1898 Design/Construction:
    Frank Matcham
    - Architect
  • Listing
Stage type
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: -
Proscenium width: -
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -