Afternoon Tea in Leith at The Theatre

Beautiful Leith Theatre with art deco flourishes inside
Leith Theatre; a stunning 1930’s building

Afternoon Tea for Four on day out in Leith

A friend was given an afternoon Prosecco tea for four at the secret ladies’ bar of Leith Theatre as her Christmas present.  It was part of the Leith Theatre’s fund raising campaign and her husband obviously thought some good should come from his wife’s love of quaffing fizz and cake with her chums.

But Covid meant the tea was delayed for two years. So last week, we eventually managed to head for the secret ladies’ bar in the  Leith Theatre on Ferry Road. We were instructed to dress warmly and we would be met at the entrance.

Our full Afternoon Tea spread in Leith Theatre
Afternoon Tea : scones, wraps, cake


Secret Ladies’ Bar 

It really was a secret ladies bar, as women in the 1930s were not usually welcome in bars, but the female performers were not being left out, so a bar solely for females artistes ladies was part of the backstage. 

Afternoon tea for Orinoco the womble
Orinoco womble with a cake which would be welcome for Afternoon Tea

Remember You’re A Womble?

I admitted to the Leith Theatre fund raising team who met us, that the last time I had stepped into this fantastic art deco hall was to see The Wombles. He replied that his mother’s best friend had also been to the concert in December 1974, and that there would be a surprise for me when we went into tea.  The desire to be greeted by a giant furry Orinoco, almost superseded  my thirst for a glass of  Prosecco in a secret ladies’ bar – or perhaps more appropriately Madame Cholet?

A ticket to The Wombles concert from December 1974
A ticket to The Wombles concert from December 1974

The Leith Theatre History

The Leith Theatre complex was a gift from the City of Edinburgh when the City of Edinburgh incorporated the  borough of Leith into Edinburgh in 1920.

Building began in 1929 and it finally opened in 1932.  It has a very familiar classical façade – similar to many Edinburgh New Town buildings – but inside it has a  sumptuous Art Deco circular entrance and box office. This leads to the main auditorium, a flat-floored hall with a U-shaped balcony and arched stage. The space is classically detailed with a barrel-vaulted ceiling and glazed roof lights.

During the Second World War in 1941, a bomb intended for the Leith Docks damaged the Main Auditorium and it was closed until  1961. The Main Auditorium was used by opera groups, schools, for political rallies and even served as the venue for the weight lifting tournament in the 1972 Commonwealth Games. The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) used the space every August.

The 1970s brought a wave of iconic artists and bands into the building, including AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Dr. Feelgood, Kraftwerk – and The Wombles. By 1983, the venue was essentially closed, despite still being used by EIF each August for the following 5 years

A threat of residential redevelopment on the building sparked a community group to take action in 2004. This group became the Leith Theatre Trust and was tentatively opened again.

Artistic use of the old organ keys in a corner of the auditorium
Artistic use of the old organ keys in a corner of the auditorium

The theatre was then forced to close again  in March 2020 when Covid hit. During its public closure, the Thomas Morton Hall has served as a NHS blood donation venue, a food bank donation venue and as the home of Empty Kitchens -, a food poverty charity producing around 1000 meals a day.

Leith Theatre is continuing to produce and house creative projects despite being closed to the public. Keep an eye on their website if you  would like to know and for for more fund raising opportunities like our Prosecco tea.

Other Top Afternoon Tea Stops in Leith, Edinburgh:

These are only a few ….

Colonnades at the Signet Library

This stunning building just off The Royal Mile, is home of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet, a long established legal association, serves a fine tea on a silver stand in gorgeous setting to all. The Signet Library West Parliament Square, EH1 1RF.

Prestonfield House

I love going to Prestonfield House; its well  worth the trip to Newington, this beautifully restored house hotel offer a gorgeous  afternoon tea – enjoy leaf teas, home baking, hot savouries, scones and more either by a roaring log fire, in the gothic tea house or in the rose-filled gardens, depending on the season. Priestonfield House, EH16 5UT.

The Queen Charlotte Rooms

The Queen Charlotte Rooms in Leith, round the corner from The Leith Theatre have replicated a 1st class Pullman Suite for The Orient Express experience, so come on board for full tea with sparkling wine and the authentic sounds of the train and piano.56a Queen Charlotte Street EH6 7ET

What’s your Afternoon Tea favourite?

Let me know, as I love finding new places and do get in touch if you would like me to organise a food experience for you in Edinburgh?