Report - - The Hippodrome - Derby, February 2022 | Theatres and Cinemas | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Hippodrome - Derby, February 2022


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member

Derby Hippodrome - Music Hall and Palace of Varieties, was opened on 20 July 1914 with the opening show 'September Morn' being played to a packed-out auditorium.

The theatre, designed by architects Marshall and Tweedy of Newcastle upon Tyne, was described as "palatial" with an elaborate first floor foyer, comfortable lounges and a dress circle balcony rich in decoration. It had a bioscope (cinema projection) for showing one reel films between stage acts.

The theatre was to produce 1,158 live programmes in two periods from 1914 to 1930 and 1950 to 1959, operating as a cinema in between times.

Over the first 16 years, top class acts filled the theatre, including international stars such as Marie Lloyd, Gracie Fields, George Formby, Max Miller, George Robey and Flanagan and Allen. It was in the Derby Hippodrome that Bud Flanagan composed ‘Underneath the Arches’ during one of his visits; the song is thought to have been inspired by Derby's Friar Gate railway bridge.

Amongst the star studded performances, Operas and Ballets, there were some more bizarre acts such as racing whippets, performing pigeons, crazy cyclists and even aquatic shows - truly something for everyone.

On 15 September 1930, the theatre then converted to a cinema with the first film shown being ‘Sunnyside Up’ starring Janet Gaynor, and it would be for the next twenty years, that the very best British and Hollywood movies could be seen at the Hippodrome.

On 28 October 1950, live theatre was once again restored to the Hippodrome, and under the management of Ray Lane the theatre had some golden days…

In 1952 Al Read filled the theatre to capacity. Frankie Howerd, Frank Randle, Norman Evans, Charlie Chester, Morecambe and Wise and Max Wall all trod the boards. As did Alfred Marks who came directly from the Royal Variety performance, and even Bela Lugosi appeared in his Hollywood role as Dracula. 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, as did the Hallé Orchestra and the Big Band names of Geraldo, Eric Delaney and Ted Heath.

It was common to see famous stars of the day mingling with the shoppers of Derby, and some local firms took over the whole theatre for staff outings.

During these golden years 10,000 people attended each week to see the acts that were at the very top of British live entertainment.

However, the arrival and growing popularity of TV, meant that people could watch regular screenings of their idols in their own homes, and live entertainment at the Hippodrome died almost overnight in 1956, and the theatre started to close for long summer recesses.

In 1959 the management declared that the theatre was no longer viable and closed after the Christmas pantomime. The theatre remained idle until bought by entertainment company Mecca in 1962 when it was refurbished as a Bingo hall. In 1996 the Hippodrome was given Grade II listing, mainly for the internal decorative plasterwork. Bingo ended in 2006.

The Hippodrome was bought in 2007 by a developer, who, following an Urgent Works Order from Derby City Council to determine the construction of the roof, brought down the roof and a side wall of the auditorium, the roof and the walls of the stage house.

The Hipperdrome went on to be further damaged by major fires in 2011 and 2016.

The Explore

Have had this place on my radar for a while now just never got around to doing it as with it being smack bang in the city centre I wasn't sure how easy it would be to get in without being spotted.
Turns out is actually quite easy as we arrived early afternoon and parked up in the very handy car park right next door.

We got out the car and assessed the climb, extremely easy but as we was assessing the situation some bloke came out his house for a rather long smoke so we headed down to costa and got our selves some hot drinks then returned.
Thankfully the bloke had finally finished his fag and had gone back in doors.

So at that point I decided to leave my girlfriend in the car and do the climb my self as I knew it was only a matter of time before someone else appeared.
Once I was inside it became clear just how much of a bad way the place Was now in & Seeing the horrific state of the main auditorium and stage really was quite sad.

There is a lot of fire damage throughout the building especially to to the old bingo hall that is now just a graveyard of twisted metal from the old bingo chairs & tables.

Just bare brick walls and a very badly dammaged cealing

Looking across the gaveyard of old bingo chairs & tables






More carnage from the fire exposing the metal beams

A starwell still with a bit of colour

A table & chairs ( The only remaining set )

Looking out to the main stage from the side

The main Auditorium looking very sad

Some seating still just about survives


Looking Across again

Nature now taking over

More fire dammage


A very peely starwell



More shots looking across


Looking out to the stage

Seating area, all seats just gone

Sheer distruction in front of the stage

Another empty seating area


Some burnt out toilets



28DL Regular User
Regular User
Nicely done mate. It's a bit of a state but quite photogenic still. The externals are prob nicer.

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Very comprehensive, great history. The externals do give a false impression of what lays within. But in saying that, there is some lovely decay, and peel going on. The charred remains are sad. But seeing that emblem survive is pretty impressive


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nice report mate. Good to see this place again. I had a look here mid 2019 i think, with no luck unfortunately.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Very comprehensive, great history. The externals do give a false impression of what lays within. But in saying that, there is some lovely decay, and peel going on. The charred remains are sad. But seeing that emblem survive is pretty impressive
Thanks. Yea it's still lovely inside ( can't really say inside as it has no roof lol) but 100% still worth a look

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