Thousands pledged by government to continue restoration of Hyde Park Picture House

 23rd February 2021

£285,600 has been awarded for the continued renewal of Leeds’ Hyde Park Picture House which is the only remaining gas lit cinema in the world.

The money is part of the nationwide Culture Recovery Fund which aims to hand out £1.57bn to promote and rebuild British culture following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest round of funding includes £1,572,642 to go towards restoring heritage sites across Yorkshire, with Hyde Park Picture House being one recipient.

Originally designed in 1906 with the intention of becoming a hotel, the building was converted into a cinema in 1913 after its hotel license was repeatedly rejected, and officially opened in 1914 with a capacity of 587 people.

Having opened shortly after the beginning of the First World War, the majority of Hyde Park Picture House’s programme in its early years consisted of patriotic war dramas and newsreels.

Though plagued with multiple closures and declining audiences, the venue reopened for good in 1962 following refurbishment and began catering to the increasing student population in the area to great success.

And in 1996, it was given Grade 2 listed status.

The money from the Culture Recovery Fund will go towards building a bar for customers, increasing accessibility for people with disabilities and adding a second screen in the basement.

Renovations and expansions had been planned since 2016 however the COVID-19 pandemic put the project on hold.

With the extra funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport the works are scheduled to commence in April this year.

Other recipients of the award include the North York Moors Historic Railway Trust and the Thackray Museum in Leeds, the latter also being a listed building.

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