The cinema that hosted the UK’s first ever public screening is to be restored with the help of a £1.5m Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
The Regent Street Cinema, which is located within what is now the University of Westminster’s main building, first showed the pioneering Lumière brothers’ collection of short films to a paying audience in 1896. Motion pictures continued to be screened there for 84 years before the cinema was closed down in 1980.
It is hoped that the venue, which is currently being used as a lecture theatre, will re-open in 2014 as a state-of-the-art cinema with nods to its Victorian heritage.
Sue Bowers, the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London called the cinema a “fascinating part of our heritage” and said it has “an important place in the world history of film.”
She added: “Now, with this…grant, the University of Westminster can share this special story not only with film students and academics, but with the wider public too.”
The project now has more than half the money needed to carry out the restoration and Professor Geoffrey Petts, vice-chancellor of the University of Westminster, pledged to continue the fund-raising efforts.
He said: “We are going all out to close the gap on the final leg of financing that we need. However, we do not underestimate the challenges of finding that elusive final tranche of funding in today’s tough climate for ambitious projects.”
Watch a computer simulation of how the restored cinema will look once it re-opens: