Headingley's Cottage Road Cinema reopens after longest closure for more than a century

A historic  independent Leeds cinema is welcoming customers back after opening its doors to the public once again.
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Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley first opened in 1912 and until the Covid-19 pandemic had operated continuously for 108 years.

It was forced to close temporarily from Friday March 20 2020 during the first lockdown.

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The cinema reopened at the end of October, but that was short lived after it was forced to close again after just six days due to local tier restrictions.

Gary Benn (left), manager of Cottage Road Cinema Headingley, and Steven Moore, assistant manager.

Photo: Steve RidingGary Benn (left), manager of Cottage Road Cinema Headingley, and Steven Moore, assistant manager.

Photo: Steve Riding
Gary Benn (left), manager of Cottage Road Cinema Headingley, and Steven Moore, assistant manager. Photo: Steve Riding

Manager Gary Benn said he was delighted to welcome customers back when the cinema reopened on Monday (May 17) with screenings of Nomad land and Peter Rabbit 2.

"It’s been a difficult time for the staff, who have mostly been furloughed since March 2020," said Gary.

"We’ve all kept in touch doing zoom quizzes etc.

"As a small team we’re very social and I think we’ve all missed that and we’re all looking forward to getting back to work recharged and giving our patrons the best experience we can.

Gary Benn, manager of Cottage Road Cinema Headingley.

Photo: Steve RidingGary Benn, manager of Cottage Road Cinema Headingley.

Photo: Steve Riding
Gary Benn, manager of Cottage Road Cinema Headingley. Photo: Steve Riding
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"We’ve used some time during the closure to do a little decorating and sprucing the place up ready for the reopening.

"We’ve installed some new seating and more seating is to be replaced over the coming months.

"We have a loyal customer base and many regulars that we know by name.

"We’ve really missed them and it’s what we’re looking forward to the most.

Gary Benn (left) manager of Cottage Road Cinema and Steven Moore, assistant manager in the marked out seats

Photo: Steve RidingGary Benn (left) manager of Cottage Road Cinema and Steven Moore, assistant manager in the marked out seats

Photo: Steve Riding
Gary Benn (left) manager of Cottage Road Cinema and Steven Moore, assistant manager in the marked out seats Photo: Steve Riding
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"We’ve had lots of messages from wellwishers during our closure and it’s been touching to see how many people have taken time to write to us and hold Cottage Road in their affection.

"Our capacity has been reduced due to social distancing operating on around 30 per cent of our normal capacity.

"As well as social distancing we’ve implemented various other safeguards such as enhanced cleaning schedules, seat allocation via online booking, hand sanitiser stations and extra ventilation; masks should be worn unless eating or drinking.

"We were lucky enough to receive funding from the Cultural Recovery Fund for independent cinemas in England and we’re very grateful to the BFI and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The funding has been vital to help our little cinema survive what has been an awful 14 months."