Despite the outbreak of war in August 1914, the Hyde Park Picture House was built and opened ready for business on the 7th November 1914. The pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post were almost enitrely devoted to news of the war but a small advert announced the opening of the new Picture House. It proudly proclaimed itself to be “The Cosiest in Leeds” and to this day this is a title we try our best to live up to.
The first film to be shown at the picture House was Their Only Son, billed as a patriotic drama and was followed the next week by the famous invasion drama An Englishman’s House. Although few new cinemas could be built during the war years audiences continued to grow. By September 1914 over 6000 men had enlisted in Leeds and the cinema provided news bulletins, war footage and morale boosting dramas as well as the escapism of lavish productions. In the years to come the cinema would become the highlight of many people’s week.
A vibrant heart within the thriving Hyde Park community. Over time it became the backdrop to many little off screen dramas. It was a hot spot for young couples and many a romance blossomed in the back row. The advent of the talkies in the late 20’s didn’t hurt the stride of the little Picture House in the slightest and a quick conversion to sound was easilly enough achieved but the road was now open for many a new hurdle. The 30’s saw the building of several new city centre ‘super cinemas’ capable of seating up to 3000 people at once.
The 50’s saw the development of television. In the 80’s it was video, the 90’s was the new multiplex surge and the new millenium brought with it DVDs and the full power of the internet. BUT with all these changes the Picture House is all the more able to be a constant, a regular friendly face in an ever changing social landscape.