World’s last gaslit cinema to begin screening again after undergoing multi-million pound refurbishment

  • 11 months ago
The world’s last gaslit cinema is to begin screening again after undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment.

Hyde Park Picture House first opened in 1914 - and soon had a problem with groping men, so the story goes.

The then owner installed gas lamps to deter would-be attackers - which have remained ever since.

A project to renovate the Leeds cinema began in 2014, on the centenary.

The venue then closed in early 2020 so work could begin, which was delayed for a year due to Covid.

But, after three years of closure, the cinema now reopening on June 30 - with Wes Anderson's Asteroid City the first film being shown.

The 109-ear-old venue will focus on independent films but will still screen Hollywood blockbusters - if they fit the mould.

Marketing manager Ollie Jenkins, 34: “We've sort of found our niche more in just championing and supporting independent films, which is obviously hugely diverse.

“We show mostly newer independent movies, quite a lot of cult classics and grey classic films.

“We sometimes show those bigger films as well if we feel like there's a value in us doing it.

“If we find there's like a different angle we can do on those big blockbusters, then we tend to do them.”

The refurbishment is understood to have cost £4.8million, with a significant portion - more than £2million - coming from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The remainder was sourced from Leeds City Council, smaller grants and from fans of the cinema.

Ollie added: “We’ve involved our audience in many ways in the project, not just through fundraising, but lots of consultation with them.

“There's just like a really lovely kind of energy at the moment from the community.”

The cinema's nine gaslights have been refurbished, which will be lit for every screening.

The entrance and original terrazzo flooring are other elements preserved in the renovation.

And a second, 50-seat screen - located in the venue's basement - will open in July.

Ollie said that the reopening is creating a huge buzz in the Yorkshire city.

He said: “After lockdowns and people watching films in isolation in their rooms for a few years, actually being able to come to a full auditorium and enjoy that communal experience is something people have missed.

“People rely on the cinema for more than just film watching. It's a part of their lives.”

Helen Featherstone, a director at The National Lottery Heritage Fund added: "Hyde Park Picture House is absolutely a place to see captivating stories on the silver screen, and in addition the venue is at the heart of many fantastic stories for the people of Leeds, and even further afield.

"We’re thrilled that money raised by National Lottery players has preserved this majestic building as a mainstay of the city’s rich, and evolving, cultural heritage

"We can’t wait for the doors to reopen for the community to enjoy this special place once more and continue to build on that important heritage for future generations.”