The Hippodrome, Derby, Derbyshire, June 2019

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People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
1. The History
The Derby Hippodrome is situated on Green Lane, Derby and was designed by Marshall & Tweedy of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Constructed over three levels with Stalls, below ground, and two Circles, it had a total capacity in excess of 2,000. The large Variety Theatre opened on July 20th 1914 with a production called 'September Morn' and went on produce 1,158 live programmes. The Theatre was successful as a live theatre until September 1930 putting on acts such as Marie Lloyd, Gracie Fields, George Formby and Max Miller filled. More bizarre turns included racing whippets, performing pigeons and even aquatic shows.

A couple of pictures form back in the day. The first from 1959:

48121445866_75f9b68f02_z.jpg 0_JG_DT_071118HIPPO_01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And one from earlier, circa the 1920s(?):

48121450606_7fe1e9aa45_b.jpg 20190623_224815 by HughieDW, on Flickr

It was then converted into a cinema. The first film to be shown at the new Cinema was 'Sunnyside Up'. With the advent of Television, it closed in 1950 before it reopened later in the year on December 23rd, having been converted back to live theatre. Stoll Theatres Corporation under the management of Ray Lane, put on all types of shows, although Variety was its main fair. Frankie Howerd, Al Read, Charlie Chester, Morecambe and Wise and Max Wall all trod the boards. Tommy Cooper starred in 1953, Benny Hill and Shirley Bassey in 1954 and Ken Dodd in 1955. Cliff Richard and Lonnie Donegan performed in Sunday concerts. The list goes on.

Sadly, this initial success was short-lived. Almost overnight in 1956, the theatre started to close for long summer recesses and in January 1959, after the Christmas Pantomime finished, it closed its doors as a live Theatre for the last time. After being left empty for three years, in 1962 it was purchased by Mecca and converted into use as a Bingo hall, prolonging the building’s use right up to 2007. Earlier, in 1996, the Hippodrome was given Grade II listing, mainly for its internal decorative plasterwork

The theatre in more recent times post conversion to a bingo hall:

48121450286_ea4acfc590_b.jpg 20190623_224604 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48121541862_03ffb9751d_b.jpg 20190623_224529 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The Hippodrome was sold in 2007 to businessman Christopher Anthony for £375,000. A dramatic turn of events took place on 28th March, 2010. Anthony had visions of turning the Grade II listed building into a multi-storey car park and under the pretence of carrying out repairs, he instructed A B Demolition to bring a large excavator onto the site and commence the demolition of the building. Fortunately, the demolition work was stopped but not before substantial sections were destroyed including the removal of structural metal beams supporting the roof, the side walls, stage house and fly tower.

Since then, the building has remained unoccupied and suffered several arson attacks causing further damage. A local organisation ‘Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust’ set the theatre up as a basic performance venue by 2020 funded by an application for Heritage Lottery Funding. The trust also launched a bit to raise a minimum of £22,500 via Crowdfunding in February 2019, but as at 17th April 2019 had only raised £2,650.

2. The Explore
This place has been off the radar a bit since a glut of reports back in 2014. The outside of the building doesn’t prepare you for the devastation that lies within. Although reports from five years ago show the roof of the main auditorium has been raised many of the seats are still in situ. Now there are just two!

It didn’t take too long to figure a way in and being faced with the utter devastation the place has endured. Despite this, the place is still photogenic in its decay and well worth an hour or so of your time.

3. The Pictures

A few externals:

48115429591_08fdc7ec06_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48114943066_9b8fa91c0c_b.jpg img1499 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115474043_48c992a362_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48114893996_56e1702184_b.jpg img1505 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48114917241_e22cced77e_b.jpg img1503 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48114958361_546143a55f_b.jpg img1498 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48114969291_a7727e52ab_b.jpg img1497 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And in we go to be greeted by this scene:

48115504701_ceb0fc94f0_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115633928_e3613462e5_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115625243_75419f135c_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Like a WWII bomb’s hit it:

48115563841_a3452ba0a7_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115019173_9f21bbd188_b.jpg img1496 by HughieDW, on Flickr

All that lovely plasterwork nearly gone:

48115372923_34523d6339_b.jpg img1470 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115422168_ccc01e131d_b.jpg img1468bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Two seats left in the house:

48115546623_4624c13d26_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115662232_63015242a6_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A ‘luxury’ box:

48115533381_de9d8ac82d_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115291132_c1a25021db_b.jpg img1478 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115030526_a14aeeac9d_b.jpg img1492 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Remnants of a recent fire on the ground floor:

48115541381_c74af6b04a_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115581828_6d52f85a48_b.jpg Derby Hippodrome 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Including these burn-out bingo tables:

48115092218_8eaf27567b_b.jpg img1490 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115203127_caffc73edb_b.jpg img1485 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115218432_2bd2b41737_b.jpg img1484 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48115177638_b7437fa800_b.jpg img1483 by HughieDW, on Flickr

odeon master

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Apr 25, 2008
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amazing how this place has been distroyed , think its only fit for demolition now


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Apr 3, 2008
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Was that owner ever prosecuted for the damage? We've lost lots here such as old manor houses which accidentally went on fire due to glue sniffers or whatever and had nothing to do with developers being refused planning permissions several times..

That's a mess and has already been said is only fit for demolition now.


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Mar 17, 2018
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Would be nice to get that place done. Haven't really bothered as derby is so far. Liking them photos though.


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May 30, 2013
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I was an apprentice in Derby in the late sixties and remember it well. Sad to see it the wreck it is now. Jim.


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Feb 20, 2008
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Rawdon Leeds
I was an apprentice in Derby in the late sixties and remember it well. Sad to see it the wreck it is now. Jim.

Not down London Road by any chance? Walked down that road every working day from Feb 1962 to July 67. As for the Hippodrome, the exterior structure could have done with a bit of TLC back then in the 60's. It was just one of the many rundown theatres looking for another purpose, that one could find in most large towns and cities.

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