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An exciting new chapter for Barnsley’s Parkway Cinema

The Parkway, Barnsley’s independent cinema, looks forward to an exciting new chapter, thanks to national funding, that will give the family-run business a whole new look.

A Heritage grant of £123k has been awarded to the cinema by the Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone (which is jointly funded by Barnsley Council and Historic England).

The grant will enable exciting renovation works, improving the frontage and reinstating the 1950s style illuminated cinema signage.

The refurbishment is one of the first construction projects to take place as part of the Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ), a scheme which will transform the historic street and bring to life stories of its past.

An important part of Barnsley’s cultural offer, The Parkway 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 over 100 years.

The Empire Palace of Varieties Theatre opened on 8 June 1908 and was later converted into the Empire Super Cinema, opening on 22 March 1920.

Sound was installed in 1929, and the first ‘talkie’ was shown in November of that year.

The cinema was renamed the Gaumont in 1950. Sadly, a huge fire destroyed the building in January 1954. However, this led to a new cinema being constructed, and the current building opened as the new Gaumont in 1956.

The cinema was renamed the Odeon in 1962. It closed in 2005, reopening as the Parkway independent cinema on 8 August 2007. The building was put up for sale in 2022, putting the future of the cinema at risk.

However, the two families that operate The Parkway were eventually able to buy the property thus safeguarding independent cinema in Barnsley for the foreseeable future.

Conservation work will start in January 2023 and is due to be completed by the middle of March.

press release from Barnsley Council

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