Hiding in Plain Sight – Lost Cinemas of Leeds

On Friday 14 August, Hyde Park Picture House launched the Hiding in Plain Sight, an interactive heritage Project which is the culmination of years of careful research.

Leeds was once home to no fewer than 80 cinemas, reflected in new artwork by Adam Allsuch Boardman, providing an illustrated history of cinemas in Leeds, from small neighbourhood picture houses to super cinemas.

Clock Cinema

The project’s website allows access for everyone to navigate the City and visit the locations of those cinemas of the past. Many long-closed cinemas include Kirkstall Abbey Picture House, the Clock Cinema in Harehills and the City Centre’s iconic Majestic Cinema. Here’s the website: www.lostcinemas.co.uk

Gaiety Cinema

Leeds Libraries Leodis archive proved to be a major source of images, and it’s hoped that visitors to the website will make further contributions from their own photograph albums and perhaps add their memories of some of the cinemas of the past.


The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Leeds Inspired are supporting the project, which will become a living archive as it evolves with the help of the people of Leeds.


The Project Lead and Hyde Park Picture House’s Creative Engagement Officer, Laura Ager, said: “For me, one of the most exciting aspects of this project has been its interactivity, as well as the way it mixes research methods. Adam’s detailed illustrations have revealed some interesting links between historic cinemas in the City and delving into the central library’s archives has been really rewarding. Now we will begin drawing on people’s own observations – photos and memories – to see what else we can find out about our City’s cinema heritage. It feels like a genuinely co-produced and collaborative piece of research.”

Abbey Picture House

Illustrator and project researcher Adam Allsuch Boardman added: “Having highly enjoyed working with the Hyde Park Picture House on previous illustrative ventures, I was thrilled to be invited to produce imagery to celebrate the role of cinemas in the Leeds community. During my research with Laura, 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. To do my best in honouring their dynamic, grand and eccentric architecture, I felt compelled to systematically draw as many cinemas as possible. I am very proud of my illustrative part in the project and believe the artwork and interactive website will communicate the colourful cinematic heritage of Leeds to a wider audience.”

Tower Picture House

Readers may already know that the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Leeds City Council, Garfield Weston and the BFI are supporting The Picture House Project, a redevelopment aimed at securing the future of the 106 year old venue. Work has been delayed owing to COVID-19 but should begin later in 2020.


Colours May Vary, an independent shop in Leeds, has opened an exhibition which displays Adam Allsuch Boardman’s 12 favourite cinemas. The shop focuses on graphic art and design, typography, illustration and product design – and a commitment to supporting fellow independents in Leeds. Their Hiding in Plain Sight exhibition is open Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm, from Friday 14th August – Wednesday 30th September. www.coloursmayvary.com

Feature illustration is of The Picture House.

Adam Kershaw

Adam combines his interest in Leeds with a flair for writing discovered back in school days. He says he'll tackle any topic as long as it's Leeds.

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