The Grade II listed Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, the world’s only surviving gas-lit cinema, is due to be restored and accessibility improved as the result of a £2.4m donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The cinema originally opened in November 1914, just after World War One had begun. News bulletins and morale-boosting programmes would be broadcast originally, helping to keep spirits high during the war years.
The cinema still has nine gas lights which work, and are used every day when the venue is open, a feature no longer found in any other cinema in the world. There is an ornate lamp outside the entrance which is also Grade II listed but is no longer gas-powered.
The lottery funding will be used to work on restoration of the fabric of the old building including period features such as the lighting, balcony and plasterwork. Other upgrades will include improving the limited access to the cinema and toilet facilities.
Archives from the cinema, some dating back 100 years, are also to be shared with the public as part of the renovation project.
The staff of the Hyde Park Picture House are reported to be delighted at being granted the funds to allow the cinema to continue running by gas-light for a long time to come.
Image: Betty Longbottom [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons