Who are we?

We are the ap Harri family! Gwyn, Kate, Jac & Dylan.

You can contact us by emailing oldpicturehouse@gmail.com or commenting on the blog

We’ve lived in and around Doncaster all our lives (give or take a few years at Uni etc), and Thorne for the last 11 years.

We have a nice home on Queen Street, but it’s got a tiny garden, and our two lads are growing up fast.

We noticed that the old abandoned nightclub (as we knew it) was up for sale, and we enquired into the possibility of knocking it down and building a nice family home on the plot.

The story starts….

42 Responses to Who are we?

  1. vicky says:

    Hi, I saw your comment on Flickr…

    Ah.. it’s a well loved building I think ! I used to go to Merlins in the late 80’s !
    I remember it well, it had a sunken dancefloor ! I really enjoyed reading your blog about your plans for ‘Merlins’ – as I know it.
    Good luck, it sounds really exciting !


  2. steve says:

    Hello, I noticed that work has started on the old picture house, I used to go to the Saturday Matinee there some forty odd years ago, I think it was a Shilling (5p) to get in and if there were a few of you one would run down to the back emergency exit to let your mates in for nothing. I remember seeing the old Flash Gordon serial (rockets on strings), and the very last film I saw there was the original Planet of the Apes ( with Charlton Heston) in 1968. I always hoped it would open up as a cinema once again one day but alas it was not to be. Nevertheless I am really pleased that you are doing something with the old place and the frontage is to be kept.
    All the best with your project.
    Ps. Like the web site please keep us updated with the progress of the build if possible.

    • Gwyn ap Harri says:

      Thanks Steve!

      Yeah, it would be great for Thorne to have a cinema / arts theatre wouldn’t it? I wouldn’t like to run or fund it though!

      It’s a shame it’s been left standing for years and years to the point it has become an eyesore. When we started demolition of the auditorium, it was hard to see this History lost, but we’ve got to move on like you say. It would never have been turned back into a cinema no matter how much we’d have wished it. I looked through the history of planning applications on it the other day, and the only other application apart from turning it into 6 million flats (does Thorne really need more flats?) was a soft play place for kids like astrobound! it was just an enquiry, and they never took it any further.

      The last enquiry the planning dept had was to turn it into a car park! I guess what we’re doing is a little more sympathetic than that!

      • steve says:

        Hi again I was looking at your design for your home, it looks very futuristic / modern, is there a possibility “Grand Designs” maybe calling on you lol. Its a programme I watch all the time and your project of turning a run down neglected building into a home could be what they are looking for, plus it could give thorne its 15 minutes of fame not seen since Thomas Crapper and Lesley Garrett.

  3. peter holt says:

    hi youve made a fantastic job at restoring the old cinema,wish one or two more could do the same with some of the other buildings in thorne ,just goes to show what can be done.thank you.

  4. Jackie says:

    Hi all,
    Your home looks beautiful, I believe it will be shown on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, can’t wait to see it. I hope you’re very happy there.

  5. Tim says:

    Hi, just thought I would add my penny’s worth to your blog. First, so pleased that someone has spent their time and resources to restore this historic building. I have realised since looking at your blog and after I spoke to Kate today, that the picture house was originally called Kensington Picture House. Also, my father and mother-in-law had their first date in this place and they are still talking about it 58 years later!

    Tim (the window cleaner)

  6. Rachael Rutter (Moore) says:

    you have completed my dream!..im so pleased someone i know has as i dont think i’ll ever be in a position to be able to do the same so im glad someone i know has. Cant wait to see the full build story in Grand Designs….and an invite would be lovely! xx Well done Gwyn and Kate…top of the class!

  7. Andrew B says:


    I have just read an article here in Asia about your house project and I’d like to congratulate you! The attention to detail is refined and the concept is totally inspiring! You have set out on a vision and with true passion the result in nothing short of outstanding! Modernism and Traditionalism living hand-in-hand! Bravo!

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  8. mrs s petch says:

    Hi it is fantastic what you have done with the old picture house, i used to go twice a week when I was courting we used to to sit in the balcolny it cost 1shilling and 6 pence, got to say though we didnt see much of the films lol. I hope you will spend many many happy years there and well done.

  9. Steve Cook says:

    Watching Grand Designs – great stuff Gwyn – Hatfield High grapevine even reaches me over in Lancashire! Great to see you are doing well – brilliant job on the cinema – my mum tells me she used to go the place as a lass !!!

  10. Lou Parsley says:

    Good day.
    Just happened to tune into Grand Designs last night and WOW was I amazed. It has to be the best design by far. Myself and my husband were totally overwhelmed by the whole project. The respect you gave the Old Pictire house was second to non. Every part of the house was perfectly done. So inspirational.
    Happy living.
    Lou x

  11. Hayley Lee says:

    Hi there
    Just watched your build on Grand Designs and blown away. Love what you did to the building, both inside and out. What I liked the most though is that you said you wanted to make your area better than more to a better area. Bloody brilliant. Well done – hope you and your family are amazingly happy there. Hayley Price, Brighton Ps we haves mates in Yorkshire near you and will definitely drive past when next up there

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  12. Neil says:

    Stunning build – congratulations! Also impressed with the banter you had with Kevin – good on you for sticking to your plans…his reaction when he saw new floor was very telling!

  13. James says:

    As an avid fan of grand designs I must say your project is my favourite. I particularly like the ‘GWINDOW’ and the individuality of the design. Well done !


  14. Chris says:

    The program with your house has just aired in Australia. All I can say is brilliant and inspiring. I can understand why the local residents appreciated what you have done. The restoration to the front was perfect and the design and feel of the new build was modern but very homely. Congratulations !

  15. Doug says:

    Just saw your house on GD in Australia. Great work and well done! Hope all going well.

  16. Kathleen says:

    Just seen GD here in The Netherlands. Well done. Love the campervan!

  17. Heather Richards says:

    Hello, Gwyn and Kate. My family have been enjoying Grand Designs for years and so far, you are my favourite couple. My husband and I are both historians who work ion heritage buildings in Brisbane where many of our old cinemas have been completely demolished so we really love what you have achieved with restoring the front of the beautiful Thorne cinema while creating a beautiful family home.nwe wish you many happy years in your special home. Cheers. Heather Richards, Brisbane, Australia.

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  21. Disappointed says:

    Its a disgrace. Such disrespect to the old building. Barely anything of its original stuff left. Its so disappointing. Lucky Gwn is kinda cute.

  22. David Agius says:

    Looks good.
    Glad you decided to remodel this olrun down building and help keep the town alive.
    The town should give some. £££ or grant or tax breaks for your hard work . We watched the telley todat April 28, 2018.
    We live in Princeton NJ USA but lived in London and moved out in 1964 at 67 Cavell St. which was a getto at that time.
    Wishing you the best david.agius@aol.com

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