Hyde Park Picture House’s Hiding in Plain Sight heritage project has recently announced a new walking tour which tells fascinating stories from sixteen cinemas around Leeds city centre. The new self-guided audio tour (which is free to access and available at lostcinemas.co.uk) shares captivating details of some of the city’s oldest cinemas – most of which are still visible today which will make a very exciting trip for those who love to explore city secrets. The tour is narrated by Leeds author SJ Bradley who has run many inspiring writing events around the city.
The tour includes information around giant super cinemas such as the recently refurbished Majestic, to Leeds’ very first cinema, The Coliseum. It also includes cinemas such as Briggate Picture House – a luxurious cinematograph theatre which housed two tea lounges, as well as the Paramount Theatre – a huge 2,556 seat venue which staged concerts by The Beatles in 1963 and 1964.
Years of research is brought together alongside illustrations from artist Adam Allsuch Boardman and a fantastic interactive website produced by Leeds-based creative agency Let’s Dance and supported by Leeds Inspired. Visitors to the site can also contribute to the project directly by submitting memories or photos they have around specific cinema venues.
The project is part of a wide range of activities being delivered by the Hyde Park Picture House and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund – helping to celebrate and preserve Leeds’ rich film history. This includes a multi-million-pound redevelopment project that is currently underway, though the Hyde Park Picture House is expected to reopen in summer 2022 following a two-year closure.
The Hyde Park Picture House’s Robb Barham, the lead on the audio tour project, said: “It’s been a wonderful journey delving into the rich history of Leeds city centre cinemas – to create a way of bringing them back to life, for the public to see the original features for themselves and to discover our city anew – preserving both our shared heritage and cultural memories.”
Illustrator and project researcher Adam Allsuch Boardman said: “I was thrilled to be invited to produce imagery to celebrate the role of cinemas in the Leeds community. During my research, I was drawn to the characteristic facades of each cinema. Whether it’s the intricate terracotta brickwork, or hand-painted and electric signage, each building tells a unique story of its place in Leeds’ cultural history.”