A LOCAL cinema is getting ready for their ‘exciting’ new chapter, after having secured national funding, that will give the family-run business a whole new look.
A heritage grant of £123,000 has been awarded to Parkway Cinema, on Eldon Street, by the Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone, which is jointly funded by Barnsley Council and Historic England.
The grant will enable renovation works, improving the frontage and reinstating the 1950s’ style illuminated cinema signage.
Conservation work is expected to be completed by the middle of March.
The refurbishment is one of the first projects to take place as part of the Eldon Street Heritage Action Zone, a scheme which will transform the historic street and bring to life stories of its past.
The Parkway Cinema is one of only a handful of cinemas in the country to still show 35mm and 70mm film, offering unique experiences in a historical setting, alongside current digital cinema presentations.
Eldon Street has a long and fascinating history with film, some of the earliest moving pictures were shown at the Public Hall - now the Civic - from the early 1900s and there has been a cinema on the Parkway site for more than a century.
The Empire Palace of Varieties Theatre opened on June 8 in 1908 and was later converted into the Empire Super Cinema, opening on March 22 in 1920.
The building was put up for sale last year, putting the future of the cinema at risk.
The two families that operate The Parkway were eventually able to buy the property, therefore safeguarding independent cinema in Barnsley for the foreseeable future.
Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “Cinema is such an important part of Eldon Street’s history, and it is wonderful that we can support local businesses in this way through the Eldon Street Action Zone.
“The refurbishment’s will not only improve the visitor experience and look of the street, but it will also reflect on The Parkway’s deep connections to film and to the Barnsley town centre.”
Rob Younger, managing director of the cinema, said: “We originally didn’t think we would qualify for the funding so for months we all felt gutted.
“And then it was agreed by the landlord that repairs and renovations would be possible as there was some money left over in the fund, and we were absolutely over the moon.
“It’s really positive, and it’ll make a huge difference to Eldon Street.
“The work we are having done will make the building look a lot brighter and cleaner - so it’s something we are all looking forward to.
“Working with the Heritage Action Zone is an absolute pleasure and we are so grateful for the help and support that we have received so far.”