The Theatres Trust

Hippodrome (Dudley)

  • Theatre ID
    621
  • Built / Converted
    1938
  • Dates of use
    • 1938 - 1964: Theatre
    • 1964 - 1974: Bingo; Casino; Occasional theatre use
    • 1970 - 1979: Ladbroke Entertainments
    • 1974 - 2009: Bingo
  • Current state
    Extant
  • Current use
    Disused (currently at risk)
  • Address
    Castle Hill, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 4QF, England

Details

The Hippodrome was built as a 'twice nightly' theatre in 1938, next door to the Plaza cinema and opposite the Odeon Cinema. It replaced the Opera House, destroyed by fire in 1936, on the same site. Externally like a super cinema of the time, in buff brick. At the centre, above the canopy, there were originally glazed panels between the brick end bays, divided by two tall brick mullions. Above this a deep brick attic is divided by five horizontal bands. The name HIPPODROME in a central panel has been removed. Plain flank. Fly tower. The Hippodrome has a small foyer across the front. The fan-shaped auditorium was little altered for bingo use. The stalls rake rises to a rear terrace, and there is a single, steeply raked, deep balcony. The square proscenium has a deep moulded architrave, and the ceiling and walls have simple moulded ornamentation – originally moderne streamlined. The stage house fitted out for bingo use. The building was well maintained whilst in bingo use until 2009, and the interior still has a theatrical 'feel'. It would be easily possible to return it to live use, but it would be necessary to remove the structural steelwork inserted in the fly tower. The stage is a little shallow, but there is open land at the rear, providing the opportunity to enlarge the stage house. The theatre was purchased by Dudley Council for demolition as part of its plans for the regeneration of the Castle Hill area including a 'Trilobite' education and conference centre for Dudley Zoo. However, the opening of Dudley Zoo's new entrance and car park has shifted focus off the site and the Hippodrome site is no longer required. As the building is within a Conservation Area, it cannot be demolished without a replacement building being provided. In 2012, local campaigners established the Friends of Dudley Hippodrome, to save and secure a future for the building, restoring it to theatre use.


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Exterior of Dudley Hippodrome, 2012
© The Theatres Trust

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  • Events
    • 1938 - 1964 Use: Theatre
    • 1938 Design/Construction:
      • A Hurley Robinson - Architect
    • 1938 - 1958 Owner/Management: Kennedy's Theatres Ltd
    • 1958 - 1964 Owner/Management: Scala Ballroom Ltd (Wolverhampton), lessee
    • 1964 - 1974 Use: Bingo; Casino; Occasional theatre use
    • 1964 Owner/Management: Midlands Entertainment Agency, lessee
    • 1970 - 1979 Use: Ladbroke Entertainments
    • 1973 Alteration: Stage removed and new circle erected in its place to form an amphitheatre (architect unknown)
    • 1974 - 2009 Use: Bingo
    • 1992 - 2009 Owner/Management: Gala Clubs
    • 2010 Owner/Management: Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Capacities
    • Original: 1750
    • Later: 1952: 1512 1967: 1507
  • Listings
    • Grade Not listed
  • Stage type
    • Proscenium, slightly raked
  • Dimensions
    • Building dimensions: 27m x 40m (88ft x 132ft)
    • Stage dimensions: Depth: 11m (36ft)
    • Proscenium width: 12m (39ft 7in)
    • Height to grid: 19.6m (64ft 3in)
    • Inside proscenium: 36ft
    • Orchestra pit: Original (21)

Of the period

Exterior of the Albany (Butts) Theatre, Coventry, to rear of College building, Jan 2012.
Albany Theatre
Coventry

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