If you’ve recently moved to Leeds – or ever walked down Brudenell Road and wondered about the building at number 73 – it’s definitely time to start taking advantage of the independent cinema on your doorstep, Hyde Park Picture House.
Built in 1914, the Grade II listed building is full of well-preserved history, which is still evident in the architecture. Standing right in the middle of our student area and functioning over 100 years on, it holds the impressive status of the UK’s only remaining gaslit cinema.
If you are a more long term resident of Hyde Park and noticed its recent state, you might have wondered what happened to the Picture House? Its doors have been closed since March 2020 and, as I write this, there is obvious building work blocking the road outside. This is a distinct contrast to the previous consistent screenings and events held in the cinema. But, don’t worry, the closure is temporary!
Thanks to supporters including the Heritage Lottery Fund and Leeds City Council – and donations from the public, who have loved the Picture House for years – the Picture House Project is currently underway. The cinema is being renewed, focusing on improving accessibility, comfort and sustainability while aiming to protect the significant historical aspects of the building which make it unique.
You can access the timeline and full pictures/models of the development plans on the Picture House Project Website. Currently, reopening is planned for May 2022.
In the meantime, I wanted to write this article as I think it’s important that everyone knows Hyde Park Picture House remains committed to showing a wide variety of old and new films, at alternative locations throughout Leeds. These include The Tetley, The Heart Centre, City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds University Union and an outdoor screen at Leeds University.
Since the closure, I’ve personally attended screenings at City Varieties including Happy Together (part of a Wong Kar-Wai collection) and The 8th (which was accompanied by a Q&A afterwards), as well as Scream at the University outdoor screen. They’ve certainly managed to retain the unique feeling of an independent cinema experience – which was always characteristic of visiting the Picture House – despite the temporary locations, and the diversity of films shown means there’s always something for everyone. In fact, the use of various venues now gives the additional benefit of a chance to explore new parts of Leeds while enjoying the cinema and supporting a longstanding independent business.
Some upcoming October screenings include Gagarine (17th Oct at LUU), Coco (24th Oct at Heart Centre) and I Am Belmaya (24th Oct at LUU). There are also collections scheduled this month to look forward to, such as a run of Wes Anderson films in anticipation of the release of The French Dispatch. Additionally, they stay devoted to providing a platform to important productions you may not see in other cinemas – they’ll soon be hosting a 3 part series presented by the T A P E Collective, programmes of short films by mixed heritage filmmakers.
We’re lucky to have this historical independent cinema right in the middle of our community, supporting filmmakers and the film industry in a time of mass digitisation. We are even more lucky to be living here while it undergoes a significant transformation, so don’t miss out!
I hope this article highlights the importance of Hyde Park Picture House and encourages you to check out the screenings which are still happening in our city, as well as keeping up to date with the exciting Picture House Project and anticipate the reopening.
Visit the website for listings, tickets and more information (make sure to look at the Membership section – free with an optional donation, making tickets £5!).
Ways to support Hyde Park Picture House and the Picture House Project can be found here.
Words by: Laura Murphy
Edited by: Annabel Cohen