The Theatres Trust

Golders Green Hippodrome

  • Theatre ID
    2485
  • Built / Converted
    1913
  • Dates of use
    • 1913 - 1968
  • Current state
    Extant
  • Current use
    Religious centre (church services and some live use) <br> (previous use as BBC Concert Hall)
  • Address
    North End Road, Barnet, London, NW1 7RP, England

Details

The theatre stands on a prominent site alongside Golders Green Underground station and viewable across a large open forecourt. The principal façe is symmetrical, in stucco or reconstructed stone, with a three storey centre in seven bays divided by piers with Ionic capitals, carrying a full entablature with urns above the cornice. On either side, channelled and quoined pavilions rise as short pedimented towers, between which the back wall of the house is set back as a plain attic with a prominent pitched roof and central cupola. Return elevation is plainer. The main entrance is in a curved corner bay. Even allowing for the fact that this entrance served only the best seats, front of house accommodation was clearly always cramped and there is little scope for gaining space. No bars were shown in the first design and those eventually provided were barely adequate for such a large house. Alterations made for the BBC Concert Orchestra partly obscured, but did not irreparably damage, Crewe's interior. The auditorium design aimed at decadent Roman splendour but, as with some other theatres of the immediate pre-Great War period, it missed the mark. This is, nevertheless, a notable interior. It has a square proscenium opening, with its lintel supported on console brackets. Above this, a huge and bare sounding board (which an old-fashioned allegorical painting would have relieved) shelters flanking pavilions which contain two levels of boxes with an extra, impractical box facing directly toward the audience at the upper level. The boxes are framed by 'correct' Roman Doric columns which, on one side rise from uncomfortable pendant corners. They support a full entablature, which continues over the proscenium. Over the boxes are lion-drawn chariots, reminiscent of Matcham's London Coliseum, but somewhat too small to astonish. The Doric theme is continued in a triglyph frieze on the upper of two balcony fronts. The upper part of the fly tower and the stage wings were colonised from 1970 by a big rehearsal room, offices, band room, plant etc. The greater part of the auditorium floor was levelled as an orchestra stage (the raked floor surviving beneath) and a big sound control room and storage space inserted at the rear. Audiences inhabited the stalls and first balcony, and the second balcony was blocked off. In 2003 the BBC announced that they would put the Hippodrome up for sale. After some years of doubtful future a church group, the El Shaddai International Christian Centre, purchased the theatre and in 2007 opened it as a church. Works have been carried out to remove the BBC's temporary interventions in the auditorium. The suspended ceiling above the stalls has been removed and now a major lighting rig is suspended above the stalls. Both balconies are open and fully seated, but it appears that the stalls still retain their flat floor for now. Reconversion to live theatre would certainly be possible, but the Hippodrome appears to be well cared for by its current owners, and well used for church services and some live performance.


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Façade of the Hippodrome, Golders Green, circa 1916
© Not specified

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  • Events
    • 1913 - 1968 Use:
    • 1913 Design/Construction:
      • Bertie Crewe - Architect
    • 1913 Owner/Management: Golders Green Amusement and Development Co (Walter Gibbons)
    • 1922 Owner/Management: Hippodrome (Golders Green) Ltd
    • 1962 Owner/Management: Marfield Theatre Enterprises Ltd
    • 1969 Alteration: converted to TV studio (architect unknown).
    • 1970 - 2003 Owner/Management: British Broadcasting Corporation, c.99 yr lease (freehold, London Borough of Barnet)
    • 1972 Alteration: converted to radio concert hall.
    • 2007 Owner/Management: El Shaddai International Christian Centre.
  • Capacities
    • Original: 2340
    • Later: 1914: 2290 1946: 2245 1969: 2261
    • Current: 700
  • Listings
    • Grade II
  • Stage type
    • was proscenium, raked
  • Dimensions
    • Stage dimensions: Depth: was 30ft
    • Proscenium width: 37ft 6in

Of the period

Streetscape showing the site previously occupied by Lewisham Hippodrome, London, 1990
Lewisham Hippodrome
London

Have you seen?

Streetscape showing the London Opera House
Peacock Theatre (Royalty)
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