Hall History

William Riley-Smith 1890-1954. Founder of The Riley-Smith Hall

Featured image above – the Riley-Smith Hall ca 1930.

History of The Riley-Smith Hall

The Riley-Smith Hall, Tadcaster was built in 1924 by William Riley-Smith and his aunt Mrs Mary Cochrane. 

The formal opening was Friday 16th January 1925 when a revue was staged with William Riley-Smith himself taking part. The opening night revue was called “Calcaria” (after the Roman name for Tadcaster). 

The theatre and ballroom was a gift to the town and originally intended to be called the Victory Hall. However during construction the name was changed to the Riley-Smith Hall. Below is the letter dated 28th November 1923 from the Empire Stone Co of Narborough, Leicestershire acknowledging the request for the name change.

The architect was Bertram Wilson of Tadcaster, copies of his original designs dated May 1923.

January 1926 – “Tad” – the second annual revue

1928 – “Mash Tun

1939-1945 – some charity concerts during World War II

29, 30, 31 October + 1 November 1947 – “Stew” – Orchestra under the direction of Noel Gay, with music composed and words written by Noel Gay and William Riley-Smith.

November 1947 – “Hash

1948 – “The Magnet Follies” staged by John Smith’s Brewery

William Riley-Smith was acquainted with the famous musician and composer Noel Gay (himself a Yorkshireman). Noel Gay wrote the revue “Stew” and directed the orchestra at the Riley-Smith Hall in 1947 (see programme below).

The hall survived in the hands of John Smith’s Brewery throughout World War II and most of the twentieth century. Following a takeover by a larger parent company, John Smith’s Brewery put the hall up for sale in 1992.

With donations from John Smith’s and Samuel Smith’s breweries plus a loan from Tadcaster Town Council, enough money was raised to purchase the hall for the continued use by the community.

The Riley-Smith Hall Charitable Company was formed and it became the new independent owners of the building. Over the past 25 years the charity has invested around £750,000, mainly raised from the modest hall hire fees and some supporting grants, on the continued maintenance and conservation of the hall.