Entertainment & Arts

Historic Regent Street Cinema to be restored

Regent Street Cinema
Image caption The Regent Street Cinema is currently used as a lecture theatre

A London cinema which hosted the UK's first proper public screening is being restored, with the help of a £1.5 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The Regent Street Cinema, within the University of Westminster's flagship building, first screened the Lumiere brothers' moving picture show in 1896.

Considered the birthplace of British cinema, it is currently used as a lecture theatre.

Following the restoration it will open to the public, filmmakers and students.

The University of Westminster announced plans to return the historic 19th Century cinema to a state-of-the-art auditorium earlier this year.

The project is backed by some of the biggest names in the British film industry and has now secured two-thirds of the £6.1 million necessary funding.

Housed within the University's Grade II listed building, it is hoped the Regent Street Cinema will reopen in 2014.

Image caption The cinema is more than 100 years old

The Lumiere brothers chose the Regent Street Polytechnic, as it was then called, for the screening because of the institution's reputation as a leader in scientific experimentation and entertainment.

It was the UK's first public cinema performance to a paying audience.

Sue Bowers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London, said the cinema was a "fascinating part of our heritage" and has "an important place in the world history of film".

Professor Geoffrey Petts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Westminster said the University was "delighted" to be awarded the lottery grant.

The cinema will give film students an unrivalled opportunity to premiere their work in London's West End.

Graduates include filmmakers Michael Winterbottom, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, who has worked on Atonement, We Need To Talk About Kevin and Avengers Assemble plus Senna director Asif Kapadia.

This summer, 2011 Westminster graduate David Winstone won the top prize at the Student Academy Awards in Los Angeles for his short graduation film For Elsie.

Film producer Tim Bevan of British film company Working Title, who is Chair of the Regent Street Cinema Advisory Board said: "The investment made in education and training has been an enormous factor in the success of the UK film industry, which creatively and technically is a world leader, and Westminster continues to be very much part of that."

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