Hyde Park Picture House
Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House
Hyde Park, Leeds
The redevelopment of Hyde Park Picture House project provides an exciting opportunity for this historic cinema to build on the significant impact that it already makes within the wider community. The ambition is to renew the historic cinema for all. The Grade II listed picture house is a special building, of nationally significant heritage, and one that is held in great affection amongst the local community.
This significant cultural project aspires to enhance the existing building, expand its cultural reach and for the first time in its existence, make Hyde Park Picture House accessible for all. It is a wonderful opportunity to create a sensitive, yet bold new piece of civic architecture within Hyde Park and Leeds.
Renewing the historic cinema for all
The formation of an accessible entrance and improvement of support functions internally will transform how users engage with the building and transform it to an inclusive cultural facility. The addition of a second cinema in the basement will allow the cinema to significantly expand its reach, engage new user groups and build on its rich and varied programming.
The expansion of the building footprint offers an opportunity to present a more open and welcoming façade to the community. Internally the entrance will lead into a cosy cafe and series of new foyer spaces that will allow the community and cinema audiences to spend more time in the building.
Bolstering financial resilience is key, and the introduction of a second cinema screen will improve revenue and is critical to the long term security of this historic community asset. Along with improvements to the M&E services, selected cinema technical systems, and a new capacity for hospitality, meeting and intimate event spaces, this should ensure that Hyde Park Picture House can enjoy a sustainable future.
Conserving the historic fabric
Hyde Park Picture House is one of the oldest surviving cinemas in the country and opened its doors to the public on the 7th November 1914. It is the only gas lit cinema remaining in use in the UK, and possibly the world.
The cinema maximised use of the available plot of land to seat as many patrons as possible. The restricted site led to two distinctive features:
- Capacity was increased by using a balcony. Prior to the Great War, balconies were uncommon, particularly in small suburban cinemas. The architectural influence of the theatre was at work, however, and the circle allowed 587 people to use the facility. It was not until the 1980s that the capacity reduced to the current 275.
- The second feature that is unusual is the triangular plan of the three-storey foyer, making full use of the remaining corner site to house entrance hall, offices and fireproof ‘lantern’ (projection) area.
The Picture House is now an example of 101 years of cinema history and a community project that contributes to the distinctive heritage of its immediate surrounds and of Leeds more generally.
Within the scope of the capital development project we are undertaking internal and external conservation works to secure the future of this significant listed building.