‘World’s last gas-lit cinema’ ready to reopen after £2m restoration

A “gem of a picture house” which is reopening its doors after a £4 million restoration is thought to be the last remaining gas-lit cinema in the world.

The 109-year-old Hyde Park Picture House, in Leeds, is one of the oldest in the UK.

And its refurbishment means that its nine gas lights will be lit for every screening once it opens again on Friday June 30.

Hyde Park Picture House visualisation
A visualisation by Park/Page of the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds (Park/Page/PA)

The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which has provided £2.3 million of the funding, said it is the last remaining gas-lit cinema in the UK and thought to be last in the world.

It said the revamp of a much-loved community hub, which has also been backed by Leeds City Council and the Garfield Weston Foundation, bucks the trend at a difficult time for cinemas.

The two-year restoration project has also included installing a brand-new, 50-seat, second screen, located in the cinema’s basement, which will open in July.

The main screen reopens in June with Wes Anderson’s critically acclaimed Asteroid City, followed by a summer of screenings and launch events for the Picture House’s distinct programme.

Cinemagoers will see that the project has seen the facade repaired, the restoration of the original terrazzo flooring and the introduction of accessible facilities, including a ramped entrance.

Lamps following refurbishment work at the picture house
Lamps following refurbishment work at the picture house (Ollie Jenkins/PA)

Alan Gay, chair of the Leeds Heritage Theatres Board, said: “As we move towards re-opening after this extended period of closure, we cannot wait to welcome the people of Leeds back to the Picture House and look forward to showing the cinema to a new generation of film-goers.”

Leeds Heritage Theatres CEO Chris Blythe said: “When we started work on the Picture House project in 2015 we had no idea of the challenges ahead and how long our original timeline would have to be extended.

“Nor did we fully appreciate the support and love so many people across the city and nationally would show for our cinema.

“As we stand on the cusp of re-opening, we are looking forward to a bright future with this gem of a picture house restored and more accessible than ever before.”

Helen Featherstone, director of England North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I 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.”