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The newly renovated entrance to the Hyde Park Picture House
The newly renovated entrance to the Hyde Park Picture House Copyright Ollie Jenkins
Copyright Ollie Jenkins
Copyright Ollie Jenkins

The only surviving gaslit cinema reopens in Leeds

By Jonny Walfisz
Published on
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The last gaslit cinema in the world is reopening its doors this week after renovations lasting two years.

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The Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, UK was first opened in 1914 before the First World War. Located in today’s student area of Leeds, the cinema has been open through the advent of “talkies” to becoming one of the country’s most beloved film locations. As one of the UK’s oldest cinemas, it is also believed to be the only remaining cinema in the world that is still gaslit.

Today it is known for its diverse programming, prioritising indie films and the classics over blockbuster hits. In 2014, for the cinema’s centenary, the Picture House commissioned a study into how it could be made more accessible.

The result of the study was an application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, from which the cinema received a £2.3m (€2.7m) grant for development works. After a delay due to COVID-19, construction works began in 2021.

Ollie Jenkins
The Hyde Park Picture House in 1959 and 2023Ollie Jenkins

On 30 June, the Hyde Park Picture House will reopen to the public. The building has had significant restoration works, including “repairs to its façade and external lamppost, the restoration of original terrazzo flooring, and the refurbishment of its nine gas lights which will be lit for every screening.”

Accessibility improvements include a ramped entrance, platform lift and wheelchair accessible toilet. In July, the cinema will also open a brand new 50-seat second screen located in the building’s basement.

Ollie Jenkins
The gas lights in the auditoriumOllie Jenkins
Ollie Jenkins
Inside the auditorium in the 1960sOllie Jenkins

The first film to be shown in the newly opened Hyde Park Picture House will be Wes Anderson’s latestAsteroid City.

“Our design approach had to be as respectful and as sensitive as possible to the original building, whilst trying to solve as many of the accessibility and performance issues the cinema was facing,” explained Mark Johnson, a project architect at Page\Park. “It was crucial to retain the cosy and welcoming feel the Picture House is famous for.”

Ollie Jenkins
The Hyde Park Picture House closed for renovations in 2021Ollie Jenkins

“We know how much the Picture House means to so many, so throughout the project we’ve worked hard to retain and celebrate as much of the cinema’s character and charm as possible, whilst making the building a place even more people in Leeds can enjoy,” adds Ollie Jenkins, the marketing & communications manager at Hyde Park Picture House.

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