Press Release: Charity Commission can act now to save Hulme Hippodrome for the Community 

Press Release

Immediate Use

20th October 2022

On Friday 14 October 2022 the Charity Commission took over legal control of the Hulme Hippodrome building, and the danger is they will allow a property developer to use the site for a new block of apartments. The Hulme Hippodrome is a 120 years old theatre, a Grade 2 Listed Building, and a precious community heritage that is now in peril of being lost for ever.

Since 2003 the Hulme Hippodrome has been owned by a controversial religious charity. Around November 2020 a minority of the trustees of this disgraced charity took money for the building from a south London property developer, and have spent it. The developer then tried to quickly sell on the building at auction, without all the legal paperwork, and advertising that apartments could be built on the site. The developer is a disqualified director by the High Court until 2025, having had 14 of their property companies closed down by the court. 

The attempted auction was stopped in February 2021 by rapid community campaigning and by strong representations by Manchester City Council for being advertised contrary to planning law, and by the Theatres Trust for the loss of unique heritage.

The attempted transfer of title of ownership was stopped by the Land Registry in September 2021 after a fair appeals period because the developer had tried to purchase the building by irregular means and inaccurate documents.

The risk now is that the Charity Commission might use its legal powers to give the developer everything they have asked for, overruling all the other authorities and regulators. 

The Save Hulme Hippodrome community campaign group secured the support of an angel investor in August 2021 and has made repeated offers to buy the building at a fair price, and commissioned an independent valuation survey of the building to comply with charity law – something none of the other parties did. There is a credible business plan for the future of the building for years to come. 

The latest offer to buy the building, made by letter on 6 October 2022, stands and we call on the Charity Commission to do the right thing and use its powers rightly to give Hulme Hippodrome back to the community. This is at no cost to the public purse.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. For quotes, please contact Paul Baker on 07932 639757

2. The angel’s identity is known to senior people at Manchester City Council, and all due diligence has been done.

3. A briefing note with full details, dates, etc is available here

4. A summary of the social history of Hulme Hippodrome can be found on Wikipedia. The article also also has information about the two major press scandals and Gilbert Deya Ministries charity.

Lucy Powell MP urges Charity Commissioner to consider offer from SHH favourably

18 October 2022

From Lucy Powell, MP

To: Helen Stephenson, CEO Charity Commission

Dear Ms Stephenson

I am writing regarding Hulme Hippodrome, a Grade-2 listed theatre in my constituency, which is currently unused and deteriorating. Last year, a number of local residents established a non-profit company, Save Hulme Hippodrome (SHH), with a view to acquiring the building, restoring it and bringing it back to use as a local cultural and entertainment hub.

For the past eighteen months, it was believed that the owners of the Hippodrome, Gilbert Deya Ministries (GDM), had sold the building to a London-based property developer (Charles Gassell Gordon) for £450,000. However SHH have recently become aware that the transfer of the title deed was denied by the Land Registry due to irregularities with the sale, and GDM remained the owners of the building. Furthermore I understand that the Charity Commission have now issued GDM a Section 69 notice and taken complete control of the building.

Before becoming aware of this development, SHH wrote to the owners with a fully funded offer to purchase the building for £450,000, the same amount GDM had previously accepted from Charles Gassell Gordon. Now with the Hippodrome officially in the hands of the Charity Commission, SHH are hopeful that their offer will be accepted and that work can finally commence to restore the building and bring it back into its former use.

The group have the strong backing of Manchester City Council and a number of organisations, including the National Theatre Trust, who have been providing SHH with practical and legal support. A local wealthy investor is lined up to pay the costs and just this month, I understand the investor tabled a legal written offer for £450,000 to GDM. SHH are a bona fide constituted community group with written proof of funds. They are ready to take ownership and begin the work needed to ensure the Hippodrome can once again become a cultural and entertainment hub for the local community.

I would therefore be grateful if you could let me know what plans the Commission have to sell the building and what procedures will be in place to determine which offer is ultimately accepted. I would also strongly urge the Commission to consider the impact on the local community, who have for years campaigned and sought to save the building. With the SHH’s offer, there is now an opportunity to bring the Hippodrome back into public use as a cherished and beautiful centre for arts and culture for generations to come and I would urge the Commission to consider their offer favourably.

With best wishes

Lucy Powell

Labour & Cooperative Member of Parliament for Manchester Central

Signatories in support of Open Letter

Over 170 Supporters so far (23rd October)

A wide range of people and organisations from Manchester and across the country have added their name in support of our open letter.

Olivia Adamson, University of Manchester

Eileen Allen, Manchester Guided Tours 

Ray Allen, Interested resident 

Jama Abdukayumov, Edward Williams Architects

Louise Andrew

Zoe Ashpole, Manchester resident

Renate Aspden

Dr Jenna Ashton, University of Manchester/ Lecturer in Heritage Studies (with a focus on community heritage assets)

Paul Baker, Director of Save Hulme Hippodrome Ltd

David Bailey, Friend of Hulme Hippodrome

Miguel C Balagtas, Architecture/Architectural Designer

Tony Baldwinson, Director of Save Hulme Hippodrome Ltd

Faz Barber, SHH Supporter

Stuart Baron, Manchester resident

Mike Bath, Director of Save Hulme Hippodrome Ltd

Jenny Bedford

Cara Berger, University of Manchester

Martin Bolt, Musician

Cath Booth, Local resident

Simon Borkin, Friends of Stretford Public Hall

Douglas Boyd, Ex Hulme current Manchester resident with interest in retaining cultural links 

Sean Braithwaite, Niamos, Playhouse, Manchester

Elena Brearley, Creative Practitioner

David Brotherton, Manchester Tour Guide

Alice Brotherton-Burns, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome 

Anne Brown, Local Resident

Laura Brown, Quadriga Contracts Ltd/University of Manchester/Local resident

Aaron Burton, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome 

Amanda Burgess, Local Resident

Damion Burgess, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome 

David Butler, University of Manchester

Dr David Calder, University of Manchester

Danielle Carbon-Wilson, Director of Save Hulme Hippodrome Ltd

David Clare, Concerned Local Resident 

Julie Clare, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome 

Catherine Chesworth, Local Resident

Richard Clarke, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome 

Rose Constantine, Private citizen 

Alistair Cox, Personal

Sam Davies, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome 

Robert Delahunty, Local resident 

Ms. Claire Louise Dixon, Prop maker

Paul Dobraszczyk, Bartlett School of Architecture

Michael Duffield, Local worker

David Eatock, Community Arts

Cllr. Ekua Bayunu, Green Party Councillor for Hulme

John Ellison, Carno Station Action Group

Janet Evans, Private individual seeking a common sense outcome

Alexandra Fairclough, Local Resident

Susan Ferguson, Personal interest (architect)

Steve Fishwick, Personal Interest

Corinne Ford, Local resident 

Andrew Fordyce, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome 

Gideon Foster, Brewer at Niamos, Hulme Playhouse

Emma Fox, Manchester tour guide

Julie Froud, Local Resident

Victoria Garlick, I did my PhD on WH Broadhead. The Hippodrome was a key part of his theatre circuit.

Professor Cathy Gelbin, Dept. of Drama, University of Manchester

Paul Gardner, Director of Save Hulme Hippodrome Ltd

Philipp Gelbin, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome and Artist

Sophie Gibson, Burnley Empire Trust 

Dympna Gould,

Grainne Gordon, Local Resident

David Govier, Local Resident

Elizabeth Gow, Local Resident

Catalina Guian-Illanes, Director of Save Hulme Hippodrome Ltd

Gareth Hacking

Kevin Hainsworth, Personal interest

Siobhan Hanley, Siobhan Hanley Comms

Ina Hanson

Susan Hardy, Community member

Paul Harrison, Charity director

Sue Hatton

Jackie Haynes, Artist & Manchester Resident

Marion Hewitt, Save Hulme hippodrome group member

Brenda Hickey, Save Hulme Hip

Stephen Hoar, Historian

Suzi Hoffmann, Personal and All Fm community radio

Carmel Hughes, Local resident

Margaret Hollins, Mancunion

David Holman, Community 

F. Hunt, Local Resident

Timur Iablokov, Freelance Architectural Designer

Carol Iqbal, Save Hulme hippodrome group member

Katy Jackson, PhD Student

Bryony Jameson, Leeds Heritage Theatres

Alison Jeffers, Live locally and want to support this campaign

Lorna Jellicoe-Jones, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Phil Jones, ASP Events  Ltd / Edge Street Live

Kim Joslin, Secretary Hulme Labour Party

Georgia Kenington, Local Resident

Sarah Kennedy, Local Resident

Ewan Kenny, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Olabisi Ketiku, Local charity organisation member

Craig Lambie, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Valerie Lane, Interested supporter

Tom Lyall, Director of Save Hulme Hippodrome Ltd

Vicky Lowe, University of Manchester 

Jo Magee, Local resident

Sara Mahoney, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Sarah Mander, Community member

Lauren Massey, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Charlotte Marceau, Used to help out, thought the community project was valuable

Joanne Maylott, Local resident

Deidrie McLaughlin, Save Hulme Hippodrome 

George Mills, The future of the hippodrome must be in the hands of local people not some external company who has no real interest rooted in such a valuable asset in a diverse and dynamic neighbourhood

Ora Mitchell, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Trevor Morson, interested in preserving this historic building 

Rita Mulvey, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Mrs E Murray, Personal – used this theatre with parents as a child

Christine Myery, Concerned ex Manchester resident 

Laura Nardella, Person in the community 

Tom Niblett, Architecture, theatre and arts

George Nixon, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Mike Nolan, Private citizen 

Lucy Nolan, Interested in preserving local history 

Susan Nolan, Interested in preserving local history

Dave Norman, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

John O’Donnell, Local resident

Allan Openshaw, Volunteer at Save Hulme Hippodrome (and previous attendee of Hulme Hippodrome)

John Oughton, Supporter of local determination for local heritage 

Chris Paul, CEO Wythenshawe Community Media, Trustee Director Walk The Plank, Founder/CEO IDEA, Founder City Life Magazine, former Councillor

Gemma Powell, Young resident of Hulme

Kit Pratt, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Nicholas Ralph, Manchester resident 

Jimmy Rapanut, Tim Groom Architects Limited

Florentina Robino Rapanut, Preserving the building 

Jane Ray, Supporter

Susan Rayner, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Janey Riley, SHH Niamos 

Duncan Robertson, Dk Services Group Ltd – Technical Safety for the community 

June Robson, Local resident

Andy Roman, Public interest

Steve Roman, My interest is in saving our Victorian and Edwardian heritage.

Katrina Roman, I think old buildings should be rescued

Sissy Rooney, Street Style Surgery Ltd 

Graeme Rowland, I have been to gigs at the Hippodrome

Denise Sackett, Manchester Tour Guide

Dominic Sagar, Architect supporting Hulme community projects

Simone Sanchez, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Constanze Schliebs, Neighbour

Jonathan Schofield, Writer and tourism professional

Roger Shelley, SHH Suporter

Jon Silver, Local Resident

Mr Ian Smith, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Sandra Skuse, Supporter of Save Hulme Hippodrome

Lois Smith, Preservation of historic buildings

Trish Spillane, Local supporter, rare historical buildings must be saved

Brian Stark, Heritage Photographer

Mike Stoneham, Cultural heritage

Maureen Stirpe, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Judith Swift, Save Hulme Hippodrome Supporter

Thomas Swingler, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome 

Ruth Taylor, Local resident

Simon Taylor, I am a supporter of the campaign to save hulme hippodrome.

Corin Thorpe, Software Engineer

Becca Toop, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Lamin Touray, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Professor of Early Film & Polisario entertainment Chair of Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust

Catherine Tolan, Member of the public 

Jane Turner, Neighbour to the Hippodrome since 1981

Eliza Tyrrell, Local Resident

James Varney, Hulme Resident

Mr David Wade, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Moz Walsh, Age Friendly Manchester

Rob Watts, University of Manchester

Duncan Wenham, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Deborah Whiteley, Concerned supporter

Luke S Whiting, Individual supporter

Oli Wilson, Director of Save Hulme Hippodrome Ltd

Anastasia Wiest, Manchester Green Party

Adam Wright, public interest

Cllr Annette Wright, Local councillor Hulme Ward, Manchester

Jonathan Wright, Individual/ Save Hulme Hippodrome

Jeremy Whyatt, Interested party who wants to preserve the building 

Open Letter Briefing

  1. The Charity Commission are using their powers under Section 69 of the Charities Act 2011. We know this from an automatic alert sent to us by the Land Registry.
  2. Due to a legal complications and alleged irregularities or fraud, the money offered by the property developer has already been banked by the charity (probably around November 2020) and spent by the trustees before the Charity Commission’s interim managers became more closely involved (March 2021), even though the property developer didn’t get ownership of the building as a result, only gaining a Unilateral Notice in the land register. It would be legal and proper for the Charity Commission to receive the funds from the angel and to reimburse the property developer, which is exactly what the Unilateral Notice provides for and why it was added as a backstop.
  3. The Charity Commission have placed Gilbert Deya Ministries under formal investigation twice: from 20 September 2004 to c.2006; and again from 28 July 2016 to date, with Interim Managers appointed on 22 March 2021. No findings from either investigation have yet been published to the best of our knowledge.
  4. On 4 June 2014 the High Court ordered that a multi-million pound network of 14 property firms in south London to forced into liquidation following an investigation by the Insolvency Service. Commenting on the Court’s winding up decisions in 2014, Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Service, was quoted on their official website as follows: “The prolonged and systematic abuse of both the insolvency and the corporate regime enabled [this property developer] to facilitate his personal business interests … Nobody should be left in any doubt that we will act whenever we discover there are serious failings, as here, in particular by confidence tricksters such as [this person].”
  5. We have further legal details on the reasons given by the Land Registry for their rejection of the TR1 dated 11 January 2021, including that it was signed by only one of the three named property trustees in their attempt to transfer the Hulme Hippodrome to the property developer. The other charity trustees and property trustees have subsequently recorded their non-consent to the attempted transfer. It was non-compliant in charity law as well as in property law.
  6. The rich social history of the Hulme Hippodrome is summarised on its Wikipedia page.

Scale Model of Hulme Hippodrome going on display at Central Library

The scale model of #HulmeHippodrome made by students at #MMU’s #SchoolofArchitecture will soon be on public display at #CentralLibrary, St Peters Square, thanks to #ManchesterCityCouncil and the library.

Below Mike Bath #SHH & Cllr Siobhan O’Connor #MCC discussing design options.

The model is excellent publicity – it opens up building’s ordinary exterior to show inside the ‘hidden gem’ that is the glorious auditorium of #HulmeHippodrome. We will publicise the dates of our exhibition as soon as we know them.

Community campaign group aims to breathe life back into Hulme Hippodrome

In the year that the 5,000-seat entertainment venue The Factory opens in Manchester at a cost of £186m, KEVIN GLENTON, from Mancuniun Matters went along to Hulme Hippodrome, where up to 3,000 people were once entertained by A-list stars such as George Formby, Stan Laurel and Gracie Fields.

This now-decaying venue was at the heart of the community and a campaign group is fighting to preserve the building and provide another home for arts and culture.

Read the full article here

Will Hulme Hippodrome be saved from the wrecking ball to become a creative community space?

Expressing his concern over the dominant development agenda in the city Oli said:

“If the current wave of development continues Manchester will become sterile with loads of places for people to live but no space for people to do anything else. Many young people are searching for places to inspire them within their communities but are increasingly having nowhere to go.”

“Community space ‘that can change their lives’ Oli emphasises that the campaign is not about saving the building as a #Manchester heirloom, it is primarily aimed at putting it to good use for the local community.” #SHH #SaveHulmeHip

Read interview with Save Hulme Hippordrome Director, Oli Wilson in the Meteor here