Founded in 1894, Yorkshire College of Music and Drama aims to introduce music, singing and drama to the people who live in our great region.

Children benefit from having individual lessons at their own pace, and for adults, learning an instrument or taking up singing opens up a newly enriched world. Although exam tuition is offered for all the main musical and dramatic examination boards, taking exams is optional and the College encourages students to develop a broad range of musical experiences, before deciding whether to take examinations.

The College receives no grants from any source. Our funding comes mainly from tuition fees, which we aim to keep as low as feasible, in order for the courses to be as accessible to as many people as possible.

We are sometimes helped by the receipt of donations, and if the aims of the College strike a chord with you, and you would be willing to support the College with a donation, no matter how small, we would very much appreciate your gift.

A sincere “thank you” to all of you who make a donation.

The Board of Trustees

Since 1965, the Yorkshire College of Music & Drama has been a non-profit making charitable trust, run by a Board of Trustees serving the College on a voluntary basis.

The late Mr Donald Halliday, a founder member of the Trust, shared an enthusiasm for singing and drama with Madame Stiles-Allen, and was responsible for securing the future of the College by obtaining charitable status.

Our other Trustees include:

  • Nick Wayne
  • David Hughes
  • John Varley
  • Lee Wallace

History of the Yorkshire College of Music and Drama

The year is 1894. Queen Victoria is enjoying a revival of popularity and William Gladstone is still Prime Minister at the age of 85. The first modern Olympics will not be held for another two years, and it will be another decade before the first rugby international takes place. Brahms is still very much alive, and the gramophone has just been invented. It is only a year since Verdi composed his opera, Falstaff, at the age of 80, and since Tchaikovsky wrote the symphony destined to become his requiem, the Pathétique. It is 1894 – the year that the establishment to become the Yorkshire College of Music & Drama was founded in Leeds.

The early years

The College was the brainchild of the Haddock family, who had a long tradition as part of the Leeds music-making scene. Indeed it was under the leadership of one of the Haddocks that the inaugural concert of the first Leeds Orchestra had taken place in 1864 at the then newly built Town Hall, performing works by Beethoven, Mozart and Rossini. Several generations later, in 1932, it was another member of the family, Mr G Marston Haddock, who was one of the founder members of the Leeds Music Club still flourishing today.

Under the auspices of the Haddocks, the Yorkshire College thrived throughout the first decades of the twentieth-century, even enjoying royal patronage. Eventually the baton was passed to Mr Victor Helliwell, another founder member of the Leeds Music Club, and the College continued to flourish.

A tribute to Madame Stiles-Allen

It was during this period that the College established its reputation in the fields of singing and drama, but sadly in 1964, Victor Helliwell died and the College found itself without premises. After a very difficult period, a benefactor came to the rescue in the form of Madame Lilian Stiles-Allen.

Madame Stiles-Allen, a renowned soprano in the 1920s and 1930s, performed with such illustrious conductors as Sir John Barbirolli and Sir Henry Wood (who founded the Promenade concerts at the Royal Albert Hall). Her recordings included Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and also Cavalleria Rusticana with the Covent Garden Royal Opera House – both recordings now available on CD.

In the 1940s, Madame Stiles-Allen decided to pass on her expert knowledge of the voice to the next generation of budding singers. One of her protégées was Miss Julie Andrews, who started early lessons with Madame Stiles-Allen at the age of eight, before going on to become an international actress and film star.

It was during this time that the paths of Madame Stiles-Allen and the Yorkshire College started to merge, and when Madame Stiles-Allen heard of the difficulties that the Yorkshire College was facing in finding suitable premises, she generously made her house – 19 Shire Oak Road – available to College students.

The College had always been known as ‘The Leeds College of Music’, however, in 1965 when Victor Helliwell died without making a Will, for legal reasons the College had to change its name to the ‘Yorkshire College of Music and Drama’.

In the Summer of 2010 the College moved to its new premises in the heart of the Leeds educational quarter and with improved facilities is in a ideal position to continue providing quality music tuition for years to come, many new groups and choirs use the building which has become an important music hub for the city of Leeds