Tameside Hippodrome

A rare theatre survival, illustrating the inter-war fashion of adaption to cinema, and retaining a wealth of Art Deco features from the 1930s re-fit.

20120629 mp tamesidehippodrome %287%29 detail
Address
Oldham Road, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 7SE
Risk Rating
5 (Community Rating: 2, Star Value: 2, Risk Factor: 1 )
Local Group
Ashton Empire and Hippodrome (Building) Ltd
Architect
J J Alley, Drury & Gomersall
Date of Construction
1904
Listing
Grade II
Capacity
1,262

Significance

Tameside Hippodrome is Ashton-under-Lyne’s only Grade II listed, purpose-built theatre. Its architectural significance illustrates the inter-war fashion of adaption to cinema. It is a rare survival, retaining a wealth of Art Deco features from the 1930s re-fit, including the coving and plasterwork detail in the café and ground floor foyer. Recent research and careful measurement have revealed that the 1930s changes to the central portion of the façade were not as invasive as previously thought. The windows are in fact original to the 1904 building with the stained glass design closely resembling an early design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It is believed that the entire 1904 brick façade is intact underneath.

TamesideHippodrome interior auditorium safetycurtain c TheHippodromeLtd TimAbramPhotos 2015

 Why is this theatre at risk?

Tameside Hippodrome closed in 2008. A threat of demolition in 2009 was halted when the building was listed, but it remains vacant. There are some concerns about its deterioration, particularly the roof.

Theatre potential

The Hippodrome is well placed in the town, in an area proposed for regeneration. The theatre is well equipped and could be reopened.

Current situation

The Hippodrome Limited (THL), a Community Interest Company set up by Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust, plans to upgrade and refurbish the theatre to its former glory, and has received positive support from both Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council (which owns the building and is keen to see it re-open as a live theatre) and the general public. Ashton Empire and Hippodrome (Building) Ltd, a private company limited by guarantee has since been set up by the friends group. It is intended that this company will take acquisition of the building (once finally agreed) and will be responsible for the maintenance of the building fabric.

Over the years THL has been in discussion with the council over leasing the theatre. In November 2018, the council cabinet met to discuss the future of the building, and to consider an Asset Transfer to THL. Negotiations had looked hopefully, however key to progressing this was a requirement by the council for the group to carry out a full conditions survey on the building. The THL have been seeking funding for this work.

Theatres Trust has been providing THL with early stage capital project advice and have been supportive of the ambition of the group to reopen the theatre for the people of Ashton-Under-Lyne.

Main photo Tameside Hippodrome, Theatres Trust

Internal photos Tameside Hippodrome, Tim Abrams