Hyde Park Picture House wins £2.3m National Lottery grant to develop historic Leeds cinema

It has screened stories to legions of film fans in Leeds since shortly after the outbreak of the First World War.

How the Hyde Park Picture House could look in the future.
How the Hyde Park Picture House could look in the future.

Now the Hyde Park Picture House – the last remaining gas-lit cinema in the UK – has fully secured funding needed for a vital redevelopment.

A National Lottery grant of £2.3m has been awarded for essential restorations to its nine prized gas lights, which were originally installed as ‘modesty-lighting’ to deter any inappropriate behaviour in the back seats.

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Under the Picture House Project, the money will also allow conservation work to the building’s façade and existing auditorium, alongside the creation of new facilities including a larger foyer space and a second screen located in the cinema’s basement.

Paul Scholey, chairman of the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Board, said: “As custodians of three of Leeds’ most historic cultural venues, we’re very proud of the important role Hyde Park Picture House plays in making our city so special.

"It is always a challenge to preserve a historic building in ways which are both true to the story of the building, and of value to the community that enjoys it.”

The project will also allow the cinema’s history to be explored through archival screenings, tours and educational workshops.

The grant follows £122,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2016, Leeds City Council support and Garfield Weston Foundation backing for the £3.6m refurbishment.

David Renwick, head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Hyde Park Picture House is not just a place to see wonderful stories on the silver screen, but is itself at the heart of many fantastic stories for the people of Leeds.”