Hippodrome Theatre

Green Lane,
Derby, DE1 1RT

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Hippodrome Theatre

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Opened as the Hippodrome Theatre on 20th July 1914 with a show named “September Morn”, it was Derby’s premier variety theatre and attracted big name stars over the years. Located on a prime site on the corner of Green Lane and Macklin Street, it was designed by architects Marshall & Tweedy of Newcastle on Tyne, in a lavish Baroque style.

Seating was provided on three levels: 1,000 in the stalls, 550 in the dress circle and 351 in the upper balcony. There are two boxes, one each side of the proscenium opening. The squared proscenium opening is 38 feet wide and 35feet high, it has a stage 40 feet deep and ten dressing rooms.

It was taken over by Associated Theatres (P.A.& D.) Ltd. and was converted into a full time cinema by the addition of a fully equipped projection box being built at the back of the upper balcony. Opening as the Hippodrome Super Cinema on 15th September 1930 with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell in “Sunny Side Up”.

In June 1936 it was taken over by County Cinemas circuit and they carried out some modernisation in 1938. This was mainly new projection equipment, stage curtains and a remodelling of the two stage boxes to give a sleeker design. It re-opened on 30th July 1938 with Jon Hall and Dorothy Lamour in “The Hurricane”. County Cinemas were taken over by the Oscar Deutsch owned Odeon Theatres chain and the Hippodrome Super Cinema was then operated by Odeon Theatres until it closed on 28th October 1950 with Valerie Hobson and Stewart Granger in “Blanche Fury”.

It was purchased by Stoll Theatres Ltd. and re-opened as a live theatre on 23rd December 1950 with the pantomime “Dick Whittington and His Cat” starring Billy Walker. The name had reverted back to Hippodrome Theatre and it attracted many famous names back onto its stage. Sadly, the effects of television were affecting audience numbers by the mid-1950’s and good touring shows were not so plentiful, ‘nudie girly’ shows were booked in week after week to keep the theatre going but audiences remained sparse. It closed on 31st January 1959 after a season’s run of the pantomime “Queen of Hearts” starring Jimmy Paige.

It stood empty for three years until it was purchased by Mecca Ltd and converted into a Mecca Bingo Club which opened in 1962. At first occassional ‘one night only’ live shows were held and the projectors were brought back into use when games of ‘Horsey, Horsey’ (betting on numbered horses from secretly filmed races) were part of the evening entertainment. For the past several years it had been operated by Walkers Ltd. of Wakefield and was known as Walkers Bingo Club. The bingo hall closed on 26th January 2007.

On 19th November 1996, the Hippodrome Theatre was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.

ALERT….The new owner was carrying out ‘remedial work’, following a small fire in February 2008. See comments posted on March 28th 2008 and beyond….

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

KenRoe
KenRoe on March 28, 2009 at 7:21 am

Three photographs taken in February 2009, showing the current condition of this Grade II Listed building (with the text of the listing application on the first photo):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/architec/3383166082/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/architec/3383163172/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/architec/3382351999/

As the days pass to months, I see it becoming less likely that Mr Anthony, the owner of the building, will be brought to justice for the vandalism/damage he has caused to this beautiful theatre….Or even restore the building to how it was just over one year ago.

All the laws and legal statutes of the land are in place to protect a building like this, and yet they have been totally flouted by the authorities, Derby City Council and the police, who just stood by and watched the building being torn apart.

KenRoe
KenRoe on May 21, 2009 at 9:25 am

A vintage photograph of the Hippodrome Theatre in 1923:
View link

Ian
Ian on February 25, 2010 at 1:40 am

One year on from Ken’s comment above, and there seems to be little progress on the Hippodrome saga.

Night photo from February 2010 here:–

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/4387115668/

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on July 3, 2010 at 9:43 am

Derby city council to REFUSE planning application. Planning meeting on 8th July 2010.

woody
woody on December 1, 2010 at 3:01 am

Council force owner to make repairs (just for safety not for making it weather tight sadly)
View link

quite how they can accept the damage was done accidentally is unbelievable especially with footage of it being done on youtube

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on April 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Latest news in, the recent appraisal survey has found the vast majority want this Theatre restored. The estimated cost,£15.million

regal1987
regal1987 on September 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm

does anyone know if this building is still standing has im planning a trip to derby next week

Ian
Ian on September 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm

The very damaged remains of the building are still there, awaiting some form of restoration.

regal1987
regal1987 on October 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm

just been to see the the hippodrome today and just to update you its now up for sale with possible redevelopment i fear demolition is not to far away

regal1987
regal1987 on October 13, 2013 at 5:21 am

the for sale sign reads : potential redevelopment

                      development site
                                        freehold with
                                        vacant possession
                                        call savills
                                        0115 934 8050
                                        savills.com
                  
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