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.

View from the back of the balcony across the stalls to the stage at Tameside Hippodrome.
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
Joseph John 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.

Orange, red and gold accented Art Deco Tameside Hippodrome auditorium, from the back of the steep-raked, red seated balcony down to the safety curtain with SAFETY CURTAIN written in gold letering on a being and maroon background

Why is this theatre at risk?

Tameside Hippodrome has been on the Theatres at Risk Register since 2009.

The 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.

In October 2020 Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council added the Hippodrome to its list of assets for disposal. The conditions stipulate that acquisition proposals require a level of social and financial sustainability. While this could help provide a route for asset transfer to community ownership and onward to restoration and live performance use, the potential wide scope of the conditions cast additional uncertainty around the building’s future

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

Tameside Heritage and Arts Trust has been campaigning for the building with the ambition to upgrade and refurbish the theatre to its former glory. Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, which owns the building, appears supportive to the group’s cause and has had various discussions with them regarding the potential lease and / or asset transfer of the building.

In 2020 the group set up Ashton Empire and Hippodrome (Building) Ltd, a private company limited by guarantee with the aim that this company could take acquisition of the building, carry out the necessary works to restore the theatre and be responsible for the maintenance of the building fabric.

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

In October 2020 the Hippodrome was declared surplus to Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council’s requirements and added to its list of assets for disposal. Theatres Trust has been in contact with the council to understand its intentions behind the move and has assured us it is aimed at helping explore options for the regeneration of the theatre and that any proposals submitted for acquisition of the building will need to show social as well as financial sustainability. The council also confirmed that it has received considerable interest in the building from several community-backed theatres and social groups.

Theatres Trust will continue to provide advice and support to see this important theatre reopened for its local community.

Main photo Tameside Hippodrome, Theatres Trust. Internal photos Tameside Hippodrome, Tim Abram Photos