History on display at iconic Leeds cinema

By Alex Smith

HYDE PARK Picture House celebrated its 103rd birthday in style as guests packed in to experience a display of Leeds history.

The gas-lit Edwardian cinema, the only one of its kind in the UK, treated guests to a special showing from the Yorkshire Film Archive on Thursday (November 2).

The showing contained clips from over a hundred years of Leeds on film, including the first moving images ever captured, shot by film pioneer Louis Le Prince.

Also shown in the clips were important events such as the 1932 opening of Lewis’s Department Store and the 1986 Kirkgate Market controversy.

It also included an entertaining 1967 Batman spoof filmed by the Mercury Move Makers entitled Fatman, as well as documentary footage about Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos.

Graham Relton, archive manager at the Yorkshire Film Archive said: “It’s important as an archive that we bring these films back to people and make them accessible. That’s why we’ve partnered with the Hyde Park Picture House.

“We believe that events such as this are important in promoting a sense of community and a sense of place.”

Community was a strong theme throughout the evening. The screening included footage of life in the Quarry Hill flats, the 1955 Children’s Day celebrations in Roundhay Park, and even a short documentary following two young friends as they enjoyed a summer’s day in Armley.

Graham praised the picture house for remaining a “vibrant heart of the community of Hyde Park” throughout its history.

Councillor Jane Dowson, Lord Mayor of Leeds, said: “In 1888, the first moving images ever were filmed in Roundhay and also on Leeds bridge, and I think that is something we need to celebrate and commemorate all the time.

“Had Louis Le Prince not mysteriously gone missing somewhere in France, Leeds may well be Hollywood!”

As well as celebrating the past, the Picture House is also looking to the future, with the launch of The Picture House Project.

With funding and support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Leeds City Council, the project aims to make the cinema more accessible, as well as adding a second screen and refurbishing the entire cinema.

Picture House general manager Wendy Cook said: “To be able to celebrate these milestones is particularly special, especially as we’re looking towards the future with The Picture House Project.”

More information about the project can be found at http://thepicturehouseproject.com/

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