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Report - - Hulme Hippodrome - June 2014 | Theatres and Cinemas | 28DaysLater.co.uk
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Report - Hulme Hippodrome - June 2014

TonyP

28DL Member
28DL Member
#1
Afraid it’s taken me a while to get a report together on this one, I’ve got a few things backed up now - and I do like to tinker with the pics a bit (no HD or anything heavy, just spend ages tweaking the levels in Photoshop). I know this can be sometimes be frowned upon here, but no apologies as getting some reasonable pictures is a big part of the reason I go - and if motivating others to visit these sites is a criteria, these will hopefully fit the bill.

Anyways, on to the report – biased toward recent events as the history is well documented, not least in this forum.

The 3000 seat Grand Junction Theatre and Floral Hall opened its doors in 1901, designed by architect J J Alley who also built the smaller Hippodrome alongside during the following year as a music hall. In 1905 the names of the two venues were changed so that the larger became the Hulme Hippodrome to cater for the increasing demand for music hall entertainment and the original Hippodrome became The Playhouse (confusing I know).

Part of William Henry Broadhead’s circuit of around 17 theatres in the Manchester area, the design of the auditorium is unique among its contemporaries, with two galleries decked out with straight rows, a stage box on either side of the proscenium and further upper boxes above these. The building was last used for theatre in the 1960s after which dwindling audience numbers precipitated the inevitable stint as a bingo palace, then a snooker club and lounge bar before the venue closed its doors for good in 1986.

Listed Grade II, the Hippodrome has been high on the Theatres Trust Theatre Buildings at Risk Register for several years now with a risk rating of 8 out of a maximum 9. Social enterprise Youth Village embarked on a much publicised campaign to reopen the auditorium in 2011. The Trust sought to establish a plan of action with Youth Village, but it is apparently no longer associated with the building (certainly there was no evidence of them on the day we visited). In July 2012 the Trust submitted a case to English Heritage to upgrade the theatre to Grade II* to attract funds, but in November 2013 the Trust was notified that the theatre would not be upgraded because although the auditoria remained largely intact, other areas of the building had undergone considerable alteration and were too plain externally. The Trust is liaising over possible courses of action with The Prince's Regeneration Trust who visited the Hippodrome in August 2013 and has advised that the Council should pursue a Repairs Notice to ensure the owner undertakes the essential repairs necessary to prevent further water ingress. Their plan of action for 2014/15 is to ‘ensure the building is wind and water tight and properly repaired and ensure the owner understands their responsibilities to their neighbour, the Hulme Playhouse’.

Since 2003 evangelist group Gilbert Deya Ministries, another crank cult preying on the spiritually needy and bleeding them of their money and devotion, has owned the building. They hold services in the foyer only, leaving the auditorium vacant and in a very poor state of repair. With no user or action group for the auditorium, the theatre remains very vulnerable. Self-proclaimed Archbishop Deya, well known as the conman at the centre of the ‘miracle babies’ fraud, claims to be able to make infertile women pregnant through prayer and is awaiting extradition to Kenya for baby trafficking. His wife has already been imprisoned in Kenya for Baby abduction and Deya himself was acquitted of four charges of rape at Inner London Crown Court in December 2014. No surprise then, if the Hippodrome does not figure very highly on his list of priorities.

The Hippodrome was high on my wish list for a long time. We had to visit four times before managing to get in. Only the auditorium, lower balcony and the area above the stage were accessible, all of the upper corridors being very securely chained and padlocked. I say ‘only’ – but these areas provided us with a truly outstanding explore. As the Trust notes, the roof is becoming severely compromised and hordes of pigeons have taken up residence – all white stuff that you see in the pictures is courtesy of them. We descended from the area above the stage with bin lid-sized clumps of it clinging to our shoes. Fortunately the majority of the gilded Rococo plasterwork remains in good condition, the giant fluted Ionic columns flanking the proscenium are still very fine and as you can see the colours are vibrant -

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Oxygen Thief

Admin
Staff member
Admin
#4
That's a great set of pictures, the detail hasn't been lost at all.

It needs absolutely millions of pounds spending on it to make it even sound and watertight, I just can't see it happening without the council taking it over.
 

Rookinella

I should have danced all night
28DL Full Member
#7
@Speed is this the place we allegedly mugged all the grannies?