London's Regent Street Cinema restoration appeal

An artist's impression of the cinema by Tim Ronalds Architects Image copyright Tim Ronalds Architects handout photo
Image caption The Lumiere brothers showed their first moving picture show in the cinema on 21 February 1896

An appeal has been launched to raise funds to restore the 118-year-old cinema that was the first in the UK to hold a moving picture show.

Regent Street Cinema in London has recently been used as a lecture theatre by the University of Westminster.

About £4m has been raised for the restoration, but another £2m is needed.

Celebrities including filmmaker and University of Westminster alumni Asif Kapadia and Radio 4 broadcaster Sandi Toksvig are backing the appeal.

The cinema was used by the Lumiere brothers to show their first moving picture show on 21 February 1896.

Image caption Donors are being sought to sponsor each of the 200 seats in the restored cinema

The rebuild by Tim Ronalds Architects, which received permission from Westminster Council last November, will see period features of the 200-seat theatre restored.

Work is expected to begin in April and be completed in a year's time. The cinema, which was closed in 1980, will be reopened to the public.

Mr Kapadia said: "Over the years so many fantastic, iconic cinemas in the UK have closed down or been redeveloped, so this is a marvellous opportunity to restore a venue that played a vital role in the birth of cinema in the UK."

The university first launched an appeal for funds in March 2012, but the appeal has been renewed on the 118th birthday of the auditorium.

Ms Toksvig said: "This cinema is a place where we can celebrate not just the past but the future."

Donors would be able to sponsor one of the cinema's 200 seats, and 50 have been taken up already.

The Heritage Lottery Fund, Quintin Hogg Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation and Odeon cinemas have contributed to the restoration.

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