Hyde Park Picture House to Get a Second Screen

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The iconic 104 year old cinema has secured £2.3 million of funding from the National Lottery and Leeds City Council for a landmark redevelopment project. The grant will pay for an extensive refurbishment of the Grade II listed building, which first opened in November 1914.

The work will cover everything from making the cinema more accessible by creating step free access to most of the building, to repairing the original Edwardian plasterwork and gas lighting in the main auditorium. Money will also be invested in the cinema projector and sound system.

The basement is set to be converted into a second screen seating 40-60 people, so the picture house can double the variety of its showings. The new, smaller screen is set to focus on more specialised titles including documentaries, foreign language and independent films. An extension will also be constructed along the North side of the building which will house a cafe/bar.

According to the Picture House’s website the project is “about protecting and preserving our historic features, while at the same time making the building more sustainable, more comfortable and more accessible, as we strive to be the best place to experience film in Leeds.”

A lottery spokesman said: “The cinema’s nine gas lights, originally installed as “modesty lighting” to deter any inappropriate behaviour in the back seats, continue to be lit every day.

“Thanks to the project, they will now undergo essential refurbishment work to ensure they continue to flicker long into the future.”

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “The picture house is a rare cultural gem in our city and Leeds City Council is delighted to play a vital part in securing its future.”

The works will begin in September 2019, with the cinema set to close from then until it reopens in September 2020. During the 12 month redevelopment, Hyde Park Picture House will continue to operate out of other venues around Leeds.

Ian White, Associate Editor

Image: [The Gryphon]