There are many great reasons to visit Leeds in Yorkshire. Art galleries, Victorian arcades, exceptional shopping, original architecture, sports facilities, museums, fabulous dining options and — plenty more. But increasingly visitors are heading to a warren of typically Yorkshire back-to-back terraced houses because of the gem that’s in their midst.
Hyde Park Picture House is still a popular working cinema and first opened its doors in 1914 – just three months after the outbreak of the First World War. And to this day, it remains largely the same as in those days – if its earliest patrons were to return they’d see very few changes. And it’s well worth visiting today too.
The first film shown there were, of course, often newsreels and footage from the horrendous war that was raging in Europe. Hyde Park Picture House then withstood the introduction of the ‘talkies’, it continued to show films during WW2, then came other factors that could have easily heralded the demise of this gorgeous little theatre – the introduction of television, the huge multiplex cinemas that sprang up nearby.
Hyde Park Picture House survived and in the late nineteen eighties became the headquarters of the Leeds International Film Festival.
For film historians, there’s yet another reason to visit Leeds. Hollywood wouldn’t like me to say this but as everyone from Yorkshire knows, the first ‘moving picture’ was taken on Leeds Bridge in 1877 by Frenchman, Louis le Prince.
He had been working on his system for several years and a tiny snippet of film from 1877 exists – a very short clip showing the ocean at Nice in the South of France.
See the video below for more details.
Hyde Park Picture House