Hippodrome Cinema

Corporation Street and Shaw Street,
St. Helens, WA10 1EQ

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Barrasford Circuit, Hutchinson Cinemas

Architects: J.A. Baron

Functions: Bingo Hall

Styles: Art Deco, Neo-Classical

Previous Names: Empire Palace of Varieties, Hippodrome Theatre, New Hippodrome Cinema

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 017.442.3046

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Hippodrome Cinema

In the early Edwardian era a fine theatre was opened on 1st June 1903. Located on Corporation Street at the junction with Shaw Street, it was the Empire Palace of Varieties. It was built for a consortium of businessmen, one of whom was Thomas Barrasford, who operated many music halls around the country. It had been designed by local architect J. A. Baron and was on the site of an earlier theatre known as the Peoples Palace. It had two balconies, a range of stage boxes and a capacity of 2,300 was claimed, although such boasts were often exaggerated. It later was renamed the Hippodrome Theatre and films were regularly shown as part of the variety programme.

Although no photographs seem to have survived there is a full list of the contractors involved with the construction:-

  • McNelly (St Helens) - Consultant: Painting, Leadlightwork
  • Brockfield Foundry Co (St Helens) - Consultant: Iron Work
  • Stoft & Co (Manchester) - Consultant: Sunburner
  • Bispham Hall Terracotta (Orrell) - Consultant: Terracotta
  • Withnall Brick Co (Accrington) - Consultant: Bricks
    1. Mans (Liverpool) - Consultant: Painting Scenery
  • Craven Dunhill Tiling Co (Jackfield Sallop) - Consultant: Mosaic And Tiling
  • Thomson & Co (Liverpool) - Consultant: Seats
  • Johnson & Sons (Liverpool) - Consultant: Fibrous Plaster
  • Alex White & Son (Liverpool & Birkenhead) - Consultant: Decoration

In 1937, the auditorium was reconstructed as a cinema by an unknown architect, reducing the two balconies to one and the capacity to 900. It was then operated as the New Hippodrome Cinema from 8th August 1938 when it reopened with Anna Neagle in “Victoria the Great”. In 1956 the proscenium was widened to 43 feet (from 25 feet) for CinemaScope and the capacity further reduced to 700. The stage was 35 feet deep and there were 14 dressing rooms. Oddly however the Edwardian ceiling was retained with its central dome and plasterwork and can still be seen today.

Never part of the major circuits, it was part of the Hutchinson Cinemas chain, the Hippodrome Cinema continued successfully until closing as a cinema on 31st August 1963. On 1st September 1963 it was converted to a Surewin Bingo Club by Hutchinson Cinemas which continued to operate in 2008. By May 2019 it was independently operated as the Hippodrome Bingo Club.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Ian on March 9, 2008 at 9:33 am

Photographs of the Hippodrome, taken in 1996, can be seen here:–

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Philip Picturedrome
Philip Picturedrome on May 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Hippodrome, Corporation Street, St Helens, Merseyside. WA10. Architect: J A Brown (1902 Empire Palace Theatre). It was called Hippodrome by 1904 when the proprietors were Thomas Barrasford, W Sley & F Willmot. Proprietor: Frank E. Spring’s Circuit (date?). Proprietor: South Lancs Theatres, +1929 KYB. Closed 1937, the auditorium was completely remodelled for cinema use. Reopened 8 August 1938 as New Hippodrome, with Anna Neagle in “Victoria the Great”. Renamed Hippodrome. Proprietor: Empire Cinema (Wigan) Ltd, by 1940 to 1943 KYBs. Closed 31 August 1963. Reopened 1 Sep 1963 as a Bingo Hall. Later Surewin Bingo by the1980s. Still operating (2013) as Hippodrome Bingo.

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