Report - - The Hulme Hippodrome Theatre - Manchester - Oct 2011 | Theatres and Cinemas | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Hulme Hippodrome Theatre - Manchester - Oct 2011


Got Epic?
Regular User
I always knew it would be good in there but i wasn't expecting these levels of epicness!

Let me explain what's going on. A church has been using the smallish entrance hall for quite a few years now. Id been in there before to ask for a look but had been told a polite No. Recently however a group called the Youth Village have started a project to bring more of the building back into use as what is probably best described as a community centre, although as im sure the groups leader Tony would tell you its going to be much more then that! Tony has to be the soundest bloke to ever let me look around anywhere. After knocking a few emails back and forth he invited me up for a look and Me, Dweeb and OT popped up Saturday morning with an air of excitement in our step! After a few mins of chatting about the various plans the doors were flung open and we were told 'you have all day if you like' amazing! I must say i think the group are pretty brave to take on such a project but Tony seemed pretty determined to succeed and asked me to pass on the message to people who would be interested in helping out.

So here you go. tony@theyouthvillage.org Get involved!

Now, onto the place itself. As always the Theatres Trust give a fairly good, yet still confusing account of its history.

theatrestrust said:
A splendid music hall, built in 1901 which has survived intact, built alongside the Hulme Playhouse (1902) by the same architect; the two were connected by an arcade which was flanked by the Broadhead Circuit offices. In 1950, together with the Playhouse, it was purchased by the James Brennan circuit and extensively renovated and redecorated throughout. Nothing is visible of the original exterior which is now concealed behind a twentieth century rendered ground floor with metal cladding above. It opened as the Grand Junction Theatre and Floral Hall, seating 3,000 and concentrating on melodrama, whilst the adjacent Hulme Hippodrome-later-Playhouse (now Nia Centre) presented music hall. In 1905, the names of the two theatres were changed so that the larger became the Hulme Hippodrome catering for patrons with a taste for music hall. Internally the magnificent auditorium, which has two galleries and a proscenium arch in original state, is a riot of gilded Rococo plasterwork. The basic design is very like the Playhouse next door, but apart from this and other, now demolished, theatres designed by J J Alley for the Broadhead Circuit, the concept is quite unlike any contemporary theatre or music hall. The upper of the two balconies has eight straight rows spanning directly between the side walls; the lower one has nine straight rows in the centre, with side arms of four straight rows parallel with the side walls, diminishing to two. The ends are divided off to form a stage box on either side of the proscenium. Above each box is a further box, reached by a little staircase at the side of the balcony. The box and balcony fronts are decorated with delicate Rococo plasterwork. The balconies are supported by iron columns with foliated capitals (some of them Gothic!). At the sides the columns are carried up from the balcony fronts to support the main ceiling which is decorated with festoons at the sides and panelled at the centre. The proscenium is surprisingly formal, being flanked by giant fluted Ionic columns with an enriched straight entablature over, and a large central cartouche supported by putti. The building was last used for theatre in the 1960s, then bingo from the mid 1970s until its closure in 1986 with the Floral Hall transformed to snooker club and lounge bar. The theatre stood empty, somewhat obscured by housing development in the area. Since 1999 an evangelist group have used the foyer, but the auditorium and Floral Hall remain unused and empty. A fine and important theatre, it also features on Manchester City Council's Buildings at Risk Register.
To be honest i find it a little hard to follow exactly whats gone on with the place over the years but it seemed to me as if the Hippodrome had been the original theatre with the two halls, one of which now used by the church, as an extension on one side and the playhouse, unfortunately not accessible on this visit (believe me i tried) as an extension on the other. What is left however is simply stunning. The auditorium plasterwork is almost totally intact and has an instant 'wow' factor, what was equally as good however (as allways) was the hidden little gems. The follow spot projectors, massive arc rectifiers and countless awesome little rooms tucked away in strange and confusing places.

Yes to the Hulme Hippodrome! Cheers to all involved