What a load of old rubbish!
Looking back on our #TreasureTrashTuesday discoveries.
During the two-year redevelopment of our heritage building, there was a lot of hard work, worry and waiting. However, there were wondrous, magical moments of discovery too – the kind usually only seen in films.
Underneath the floorboards of our balcony, we discovered all sorts of treasures from the past. Our contractors unearthed a whole variety of items, mainly from this void in the balcony, including confectionery wrappers and, most commonly, cigarette packets. We assume that cleaners over the years must have swept debris into various little holes and then, once the floorboards were carpeted over, it created a kind of time capsule.
What may look like trash to some was fascinating to us. Each old ice cream tub and cigarette packet told us more about our past audiences. We were very intrigued by each discovery and shared lots of them on social media with the hashtag #TreasureTrashTuesday. We are so grateful for followers’ enthusiastic response. It was a lovely way of connecting with people when we weren’t able to see them as often due to much less frequent screenings on the road.
Here's the story of some of our favourite discoveries…
These fragmented bingo cards were amongst our most significant treasures. For years we’ve heard stories from older regulars who remember playing bingo in our main auditorium. Cinemas being used for bingo is certainly not unusual – many historic cinemas in Leeds transitioned into full-time bingo halls before being redeveloped or demolished. But beyond anecdotal evidence of this happening at the Picture House, we never came across any physical record – until this!
These two bingo cards were made for the Hyde Park Bingo Club. The printers who produced the cards (Cusworth and Daniels Ltd.) were founded in 1961, so our best guess is that they’re from sometime later that decade.
Rea and Haworth Botanical Breweries flagon
This was a really interesting jigsaw piece in the history of Hyde Park Picture House. Estimated to be from around 1912, this Rea & Haworth Botanical Breweries flagon potentially pre-dates the cinema itself. Prior to the formation of the Picture House, the site of the cinema was home to the original Brudenell Social Club, or the Brudenell Road Social and Recreation Club as it was then known before it moved down the road in 1913. Whilst the flagon could have been dropped for many reasons, it does help paint a picture of the drinking that would have been more commonplace on the site before the cinema opened.
Programme from 1952
We loved finding this old programme from 1952 which shows the community spirit we have today existed back then too.
Alongside details of upcoming films, much of the programme is dedicated to promoting the incredible array of businesses in Hyde Park, Burley and Headingley, emphasising the important role the cinema played in supporting its local community – something we continue to feel passionate about today.
The front cover also features a drawing of the cinema’s foyer, showing the historic fireplace (where our kiosk used to be), and a carpet runner on the main stairs. This carpet runner has now been reinstated and the ornate mantelpiece has carefully been restored to the new back wall of our extended foyer.
Zoom lollipop wrapper
We found a few Lyons Maid lolly wrappers, but this was one of the first we came across. Dating from 1967, the period of the first Apollo missions, the wrapper features John Tracy from Thunderbirds advertising a free picture card inside.
The cards were part of a series called ‘All Systems Go’ about the ‘wonders of the space age’. Customers were encouraged to mount their cards on a special wall chart, available from Lyons Maid for just one shilling.
Edwardian hat pin
This is one of our oldest and most beautiful treasures! Still commonly used when we first opened in 1914, this pin has a similar design to other Edwardian pins we’ve seen, meaning it could well be over 100 years old.
During the early 20th century hat pins were synonymous with women’s suffrage and safety, with women in the UK and US using pins to fend off attacks from lecherous men. In 1908 laws were even passed limiting the size of pins due to a patriarchal fear of them being used as weapons.
Our hat pin was found under the back row of our balcony, which made us wonder… was this where anyone with big hats was asked to sit?
By far the most common item we found: cigarette packets. The abundance of various brands is a reminder of just how smoky cinemas would have been in the past. We also found boxes of matches to go with them.
Thank you to everyone who has shown an interest in these discoveries. We will be working with West Yorkshire Archive Service to preserve the artefacts we've found. Make sure to visit our dedicated display cabinet full of Treasure Trash Tuesday finds in our new Café Bar when we reopen soon.