Hyde Park Picture House

A new chapter for the UK's last gas-lit cinema

The Hyde Park Picture House is a Grade II listed independent cinema in Leeds, known for being the very last gas-lit cinema in the UK. The redevelopment project consisted of three key aspects; comprehensive conservation works to the original cinema building, construction of a new 3-storey extension to offer better access / facilities for the building, and finally a new 50-seat second screen excavated from the basement to increase revenue.

Alongside these physical alterations to the building, the project aimed to celebrate the cinema’s rich history, bringing its architectural features to the spotlight – including the gas lighting.


The Hyde Park Picture House is part of Leeds Heritage Theatres group, and screens arthouse, independent and classic films, as well as mainstream blockbusters. It is cherished by locals and visitors alike for its cosiness and charm, and the organisation are known for being one of the most inclusive and welcoming cultural organisations in the country. Striving to make the Picture House a ‘Cinema for All’, their audiences and wider community are at the heart of everything they do.

The Picture House organisation started the process for the redevelopment in 2005, and have worked tirelessly to push the project forwards since. The project brief was to address the historic building’s failing fabric, make the building accessible, and provide new facilities for the public, including café / foyer spaces, more toilets, and most importantly, a second screen.


To meet the brief sensitively, utmost care was taken with every design decision – keeping conservation principles and the cinema’s community at the centre. Before the conservation works were carried out, the team went to great lengths to record and survey the original building, building up a clear picture of the existing condition and how best to resolve the issues at hand.

A careful conservation approach was taken for the fabric repairs to the original building, with traditional detailing techniques adopted.

Adaptation and extension

Starting outside the cinema’s entrance, improved public realm resolves what was previously a stepped main entrance, now providing a ramped level access through automatic opening doors. Major structural works to the foyer allowed for a larger kiosk space and new accessible WC facilities, where there were none previously. A new lift gives access to all three floors of the extension, including access to the new 50-seat second screen in the basement.

The Picture House sits in a dense residential area of Leeds, connected to row of terraced housing – literally embedded in the centre of its community. The scale of the new extension was kept to a minimum, and materials of red brick and granite were used, complementary to both the existing building and its residential context.

As a playful gesture, the extension’s brickwork has been articulated to depict a series of 35mm film reel motifs –paying homage to the city of Leeds as the birthplace of motion picture film.


The basis of the Picture House redevelopment was to preserve and protect the historic cinema building, as well as the organisation itself, for generations to come. As with any historic building, the Picture House had particular shortcomings in its environmental performance, which were addressed in a manner that was sustainable but also sensitive to its historic significance and unique charm.

The new extension spaces are naturally ventilated through operable windows, and the main auditorium’s natural ventilation has been retained. In parallel to the repairs/improvements to the building’s fabric, a new heat recovery ventilation system has been installed to help reduce heating requirements. Improvements include a newly insulated roof, fully refurbished windows (including retrofitted double-glazing units or secondary glazing), and a draft lobby at the main entrance.

Another sustainable design principle adopted from the outset was to restore or reuse existing fabric or building elements where possible, rather than replacing for new. Where new materials were introduced, these were to be as robust and long lasting as possible, where budget would allow.

Project Info

Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House
Hyde Park, Leeds
June 2023
Project Manager
Turner & Townsend
Structural Engineer
Buro Happold Engineering
M&E Engineer
Buro Happold Engineering
Fire Engineer
Buro Happold Engineering
Acoustic Consultant
Buro Happold Engineering
Cost Consultant
Gardiner & Theobald
CDM Co-ordinator
Principal CDM
Ollie Jenkins (Hyde Park Picture House), Daniel Johnson (Hyde Park Picture House), Mark Johnston (Page\Park Architects)