Derby Hippodrome / Walkers Bingo June 2010

Seems ages since my last 'report' so here goes!

I first visited the Hippodrome in March 2008 Since then a lot has happened!

First a bit of history.

The Derby Hippodrome was a purpose built theatre and Variety house and had a 2,300 capacity. It was converted in 1930 into an 1,800 seat cinema,
becoming a theatre once more for only 9 years until 1959. Three years later the theatre was purchased by Mecca Group who converted the theatre
into a Bingo Social Club.

Opening in 1914 as the Derby Hippodrome, Music Hall and Palace of Varieties. The architects were Marshall and Tweedy of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The opening show on 20 July 1914. was 'September Morn' and was well received by a packed auditorium
Built on the corner of Green Lane and Macklin Street it was on the site of Derby's first private lunatic asylum and close to the slums of
Trafalgar Street and Waterloo Street in the Little City area of the town. The more comfortable houses in Compton and Wilson Streets were
set to house costumiers and theatre staff as well as offering accommodation to visiting stars.

The theatre was described as "palatial" with an elaborate first floor foyer and comfortable lounges where lady attendants served dainties to the
better off clientèle. The dress circle balcony was especially rich in decoration and the novelty of ladies and gentleman's toilets on each floor
was popular.
Over the next 45 years the theatre was to produce 1,158 live programmes in two periods from 1914-1930 and 1950 -1959, in the intervening years it
was converted into a cinema but on the 28th October 1950 the Hippodrome closed as a cinema and live theatre was restored once more on 23 December 1950.

However in 1956 ITV hit the Midlands and people could now see regular screening of their idols for the price of a hire purchase agreement. Live
entertainment at the Hippodrome died almost overnight. The exploitation of "girlie" shows hastened the demise as families boycotted these acts.
The theatre started to close for long summer recesses.
By 1959 it was all over. The management declared that the theatre was not viable and closed after the Christmas pantomime. Derby was horrified,
but the theatre remained idle until bought by Mecca in 1962 and refurbished as a Bingo hall.

Owned by Walker's Bingo until 2007 the Bingo type of entertainment lasted longer than any other.
on one Friday in February a small fire broke out under the stage behind the orchestra pit. This is part of the report in the 'STAGE' Newspaper from Thursday
the 14th Feb:

Around 30 firefighters spent most of last Friday night tackling the fire. It is believed it was started in the orchestra pit, but did not
spread because it was behind the fire curtain. No structural damage was caused.
The Grade II listed building, formerly a theatre and more recently a bingo hall, is currently not in use. But owner Christopher Anthony,
who bought the venue last year, is thought to have told Derby City Council that he wants to knock it down.

Mhora Samuel of The Theatres Trust said: I'm devastated by news of the fire. This vacant theatre was clearly very vulnerable and the owner
should now take responsibility to make it safe and ensure that further damage doesn't occur'.
The Theatres Trust will be working closely with Derby City Council to try and secure the theatre. First of all we have to find out the full
extent of the damage.'

I knew this when I went in the first time round and was expecting to see a bit of damage to the forstage, pit and safety curtain, however the
place was completely trashed, deliberately trashed at that. the front of the circle (detailed in the listing had been smashed off) huge sections of
the auditorium's plasterwork had been deliberately destroyed. I was astounded by this as it had only been closed for a relatively short time at this
point and as it was obvious that it was deliberate I sent my pictures to the local press (anonymously!). Well all hell broke loose!

Hit the front page!

Page two.

Afew days later this happened:

To my mind the owner knew what had happened and tried to get rid of the evidence, he said he was tring to fix the roof...!

Afew shots before the roof was 'fixed'



Auditorium left

Deliberately trashed plasterwork above the left box.

The fire damage to the iron.

The only picture I got of the ceiling, very grainy I know....

Unfortunately I think I may have been the last person to see the interior before the roof was "fixed
So this is the place now....:

Thanks for looking.