Entertainment & Arts

Leeds' gas-lit Hyde Park Picture House receives Heritage Lottery Funding

Hyde Park Picture House Image copyright Tom Joy/Heritage Lottery Fund/PA
Image caption Hyde Park Picture House is more than 100 years old

The world's only surviving gas-lit cinema and William Morris's former home are among those sharing a £55m National Lottery funding pot.

Original features at Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds will be restored and accessibility is to be improved.

The 102-year-old cinema is receiving £2.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Kelmscott Manor in west Oxfordshire, which inspired arts and crafts designer Morris, receives £4.7m to help double its opening days and visitor numbers.

'Open to community'

Hyde Park Picture House opened in November 1914, just after the outbreak of World War One, when it broadcast news bulletins and morale-boosting dramas. It still has nine working gas lights, which are used every day when the cinema is open.

General manager Wendy Cook said staff were "delighted" about the grant.

"We are so grateful, so happy and every other possible positive descriptive word there is," she said. "We are doing a lot of work to preserve the fabric of the building - the wonderful period features like the gas lighting and the beautiful balcony and plasterwork.

"We're making sure this heritage site is preserved for the next 100 years."

She said upgrades were being planned because there are currently no accessible toilets and there is limited access to the cinema.

"It means there's a whole section of our community who aren't accessing our films and the events we put on - this is our opportunity to open up to them," Ms Cook added.

The cinema's archives, including film programmes dating back to its opening, will also be shared with the public as part of the project.

Image copyright Heritage Lottery Fund/PA
Image caption William Morris described Kelmscott Manor as 'heaven on earth'

Meanwhile, two of Kelmscott Manor's rooms, which are currently closed, will be opened as exhibition and archive spaces, and historic buildings in the grounds are to be restored as a cafe, learning centre and activity space.

The manor's buildings were described by Morris, a writer and social activist as well as a designer, as looking like they had "grown up out of the soil".

Gill Andrews, president of the Society of Antiquaries of London, which owns and manages the manor, said: "For William Morris, Kelmscott was a 'heaven on earth' and our aim is to offer visitors of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to explore the inspirational impact that Kelmscott had on Morris and to appreciate his enduring worldwide legacy."

A total of 12 projects and places are receiving a share of the HLF funding.

Other recipients include:

  • The new Plymouth History Centre, which will receive £14.8m to bring together five collections scattered across the city
  • The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, awarded £4.7m for new galleries to explore the country's polar, Pacific and maritime heritage
  • St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire, which will receive £3.9m to increase access and tell the story of St Alban
  • St Mary Magdalene's Church in Paddington, London, which will get £3.6m for conservation work to remove it from the "heritage at risk" list and to build a new wing
  • Royal Museums Greenwich, which will be given £7.4m to help save the Armada portrait of Elizabeth I for the nation The picture will be publicly owned for the first time and on show in Greenwich's Queen's House

HLF chief executive Ros Kerslake said: "Whether sharing the source of William Morris's inspiration or saving a century of cinema and community heritage, the impact of National Lottery players' money reaches far and wide.

"Today's investment will boost tourism and local economies, secure some of our nation's heritage for future generations to enjoy and provide some fantastic opportunities for volunteers and visitors of all ages."

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