Welcome to our Save Hulme Hippodrome Campaign – we are 100s of people determined to bring this beautiful building back into community use.
Let us tell you our successes so far, and how you can help take us further.
The Hulme Hippodrome is a 120 year old Grade II listed Edwardian theatre in Hulme (M15 5EU), one mile south of Manchester city centre. It originally sat up to 3,300 people crammed in on long benches, and was later refurbished with individual tip-up seats for 1,300 people, plus an adjacent Floral Hall for smaller functions. It has a smaller twin theatre next door – The Playhouse – on the same block, now run by Niamos.
Designed by JJ Alley and built by the Broadhead family company, it is one of the last surviving theatres of a group of 17 in the North West of England, renown for its Rococo plasterwork and ornate decoration, and its straight lines for rows of seats (originally as benches), unusual in theatre design. The Hulme Hippodrome (initially known as The Grand Junction) was opened on 7 October 1901, with its “younger twin” sister theatre The Playhouse following in 6 October 1902.
(The Playhouse was owned by the BBC between 1955 and 1986, and they used it as a radio and TV studio. It was also the NIA Centre from 1991 to 1997.)
The BBC rented the Hipp from 1950 to 1955 on Sunday afternoons to record 20 show titles with live audiences, including the first radio series by Morecambe and Wise in 1953, You’re Only Young Once. The Hipp was a variety theatre from Mondays to Saturdays.
In 1962 Hulme Hippodrome – the Hipp – was sold to Mecca Entertainments and became a Mecca Bingo Hall, then sometime in the 1970s a Mecca Social Club, and then a Snooker and Billiards Hall before closing its doors in 1988; being dark for the next 15 years.
Between 2003 and 2020 Hulme Hippodrome was owned and used by the controversial religious charity, Gilbert Deya Ministries. During this time it was squatted between May 2017 and February 2018.
On 25 November 2020 it was sold to a property developer in south London, who attempted to sell it on at auction on 10 February 2021 at over twice the price and advertised as suitable for apartments. However, Hulme Hippodrome is a listed building and no legal consent had been given for this change of use by the authorities.
We – the Save Hulme Hippodrome campaign – came into being when the community became aware of, and very alarmed by, this attempted auction. Along with the Theatres Trust in London and the planners at Manchester City Council we stopped the auction. We registered the campaign group as a non-profit limited company in March 2021.
Also in March 2021 we crowd-funded over £17,100, racing past our initial target in just five days – with kind donations from over 560 people. These funds have paid for things like much-needed surveys on the structure and conditions, and for an independent fair market valuation. These are some of the essential steps which are helping us rescue and secure the building.
For example, so far we have held nine community engagement events and we have successfully campaigned for the property owner to be legally obliged to make repairs to the outside of the building, including at Court Hearings.
We are also determined to see that the holes in the roof are fixed as soon as possible.
We have a costed business plan to save and restore the Hipp, and a campaign strategy to acquire the building for the community. Below are just a few examples of the work we have already done, free for you to read and share.
Come and join us – just add your email address below.
The History of Hulme Hippodrome, from 1901 up to 2020
We have summarised our research on the history of the Hulme Hippodrome building in a 48-page booklet. The PDF version is free and online (Creative Commons) and the printed version is available at £4 to cover costs, while stocks last.
To download the PDF please click this –
Photographs of the inside of Hulme Hippodrome (booklet)
Our Bulletins, Jan to Aug 2023:
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