The most important unused theatre in the UK
Our Brighton Hippodrome


     
Barrasford descendant's support
I am the great-granddaughter of the theatre impressario Thomas Barrasford, who was responsible for creating so many wonderful theatres across the country, including the Brighton Hippodrome.

Barrasford Tour

      Sadly, so much of his legacy has been allowed to fall into disrepair, to ne converted beyond recognition, or has simply been demolished. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard of your campaign to preserve the Brighton Hippodrome and save it from the fate so many of his theatres have suffered.
      Through his work, Thomas touched the lives of thousands, possibly millions of artistes, technicians and theatre-goers, bringing pleasure and prosperity to the people, towns and cities fortunate enough to possess a Barrasford theatre. I am immensely proud of my ancestor, who was an entrepreneur, inventor, fierce competitor and a human being so well respected by his family and friends.

Left: advertisements appeared weekly in the trade press to announce who was appearing where on the Barrasford tour.

Right: crowds throng Middle Street for Thomas Barrasford's funeral, 5 February 1910

I am therefore delighted to write in support of your efforts to ensure his theatre can once again serve the people of Brighton and beyond, resuming its role as a place of community, laughter and culture, and a flagship for the south-east of England.
      I wish you every success in your endeavours, the progress of which I will watch with keen anticipation every step of the way.

Yours sincerely
Mrs J L Cover

Thomas Barrasford funeral

Some of those who support the project

Tim Anscombe, producer and production manager

Sara Aspley, Director of Commercial Services, Royal Shakespeare Company

Sir Alan Ayckbourn, playwright and director

Michael Attenborough, director

David Benedictus, writer and theatre director

Anne Bickmore, Founder, ABC Fund

Christopher Biggins, actor and television presenter

Kevin Bishop, actor

Ted Bottle, theatre historian, Editor, Old Theatres Magazine

Billy Bragg, musician

Philip Martin Brown, actor

Martin Burton, Founder and Director, Zippos Circus

Julian Caddy, Managing Director, Brighton Fringe

Brian Capron, actor

Andrew Cheeseman, events producer

Nigel Cole, film director [Calendar Girls, Made in Dagenham]

Norman Cook, musician

Gordon Craig, Samuel Beckett scholar

Richard Crane, playwright

Julie Christie, actress

Dame Judi Dench, actress

Ivor Dembina, comedian

Ken Dodd, comedian

Ivan Douglas, Costume Department Administrator, Royal Shakespeare Company

Keith Drinkel, actor

Janette Eddisford, Principal, Academy of Creative Training

Murray Edwards, Executive Director, Wakefield Theatre Royal

Fenella Fielding, actress

Max Finbow, Managing Director, David Ian Productions

Kevin Fitzmaurice, Producer, Royal Shakespeare Company

Tim Flavin, actor

Mark Fox, Advertising Manager, Really Useful Theatre Group

Mark Graham, production manager, Royal Shakespeare Company

Colin Granger, co-founder, Komedia

Stephen Grant, comedian and presenter

Frank Gray, Director, Screen Archive South East, University of Brighton

Dame Beryl Grey, ballerina*

Raymond Gubbay, impressario

Liz Hall, Executive Director, Carousel

Mark Hammill, actor

Pam Harcourt, Tiller Girl

Professor Gavin Henderson, Principal, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama*

Mark Hewitt, Artistic Director, Lewes Live Literature

Roy Hudd, comedian, actor and broadcaster

Helen Hughes, Head of Dye, Royal Shakespeare Company

Sir Nicholas Hytner, Director, National Theatre

Shirley Jaffe, actress*

Peter James, novelist

Gareth Johnson, theatrical producer and manager

Davy Jones, Green Party PPC for Brighton Kemptown

Barb Jungr, singer-songwriter

Dillie Keane, actress, singer, comedienne

Dame Penelope Keith, actress

Josie Kidd, actress

Rosalie Kirkman, Tiller Girl, Queen Ratling 2014*

Marina Kobler, co-founder, Komedia

Mike Leigh, film and stage director

David Lavender, co-founder, Komedia

Richard Linford, theatre producer, artist manager

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion

Alistair McArthur, Head of Costume, Royal Shakespeare Company

Joseph McGann, actor

Sir Brian McMaster, former Director, Edinburgh International Festival

Simon Marsden, Technical Director, Royal Shakespeare Company

Claire Martin OBE, singer and broadcaster

Sheila Matthews, actress and singer*

Clarie Middleton, Chief Executive, Hackney Empire

Sarah Miles, actress

Clarence Mitchell, Conservative PPC for Brighton Pavilion

Bruce Montague, actor and writer

Henry Naylor, comedy writer, director and performer

Graham Norton, television presenter and host

Dara Ó Briain, comedian and television presenter

Professor Robert Orledge, music scholar

Toby Park, Director, Spymonkey Theatre Company

Christine Payne, General Secretary, Equity

Mick Perrin, comedy promoter

Nigel Pitman, former Executive Director London, Arts Council England

Peter Polycarpou, actor

Rebecca Preston, Development Director, Royal Shakespeare Company

Rupert Rhymes, President, Frank Matcham Society

Jessica Rutherford, former Head of Museums and Director of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Jack Shepherd, actor

Keith Shepherd, chairman, Brighton Theatre Group

Michael Simkins, actor

Malcolm Sinclair, President, Equity

Anthony Slide, cinema historian

Dr Robert Snell, author, psychotherapist

Don Stacey, circus historian

John Stalker, theatrical producer

Gavin Stamp, architectural historian

Joe Stilgoe, singer, songwriter

Karen Street, musician, composer

Count Arthur Strong, actor and raconteur

Gerry Tebbutt, musical theatre teacher

Josephine Tewson, actress

Horace Trubridge, Assistant General Secretary, Musicians Union

Chris Turner, actor/songwriter/composer

Lalla Ward, actress

Dave Webster, National Organiser Live Performance, Musicians Union

Sir Arnold Wesker, playwright

Barbara Whatley, actress*

Dave Willetts, actor

Faynia Williams, theatre director, BBC producer

Tom Emlyn Williams, tenor

David Wood, children's dramatist

Johnny Worthy, actor, director, Equity trustee

Mark Wynter, singer and actor*

Paul Zenon, magician

*appeared at the Hippodrome

DAME JUDI DENCH adds her voice

I would like to add my voice to your list of supporters who are trying to prevent the redevelopment of this grand building. Brighton is a wonderful touring date in the theatre, and it seems tragic to turn the Hippodrome into something else entirely instead of restoring it to its former glory and original beauty. Frank Matcham must be spinning in his grave!
      We have lost so many regional theatres that it would be wonderful to hear that this particular one is being restored rather than destroyed.
      With best wishes
      Judi Dench

HIPPODROME STAR SENDS SUPPORT

Please, please. please. do not take the easy way out and allow this strikingly original and glorious theatre to become another soulless multiplex cinema. In the summer of 1964 I appeared on the bill there for several weeks along with the brilliantly accomplished magician David Nixon and skiffle king Lonnie Donegan.
      At the time I had engaged the eminent lawyer David Jacobs, who lived in Brighton, to defend me on a speeding charge. Yes, bit of a speed freak then in my silver grey MGB Roadster. DJ was too busy to discuss the case in London and suggested I go to his house between shows on the Saturday. I did and over high tea and cake was introduced to his weekend house guest, Judy Garland. My appearing at The Hippodrome therefore has an added special memory.
      Historical theatres such as this reflect our theatrical heritage from Shakespeare to music hall and on into the great days of variety. Imperative that it be restored & saved.
      In faith,
      —Mark Wynter.

'I hope they do not pull the Hippodrome down and replace it with a block of flats.'
—Judy Cornwell, who made her debut as a dancer at the Hippodrome at the age of 15 and took the lead in Cinderella when the lead actress fell ill. [Quoted in The Argus 23 April 2016].
SIR ALAN AYCKBOURN supports campaign

Alan AyckbournBrighton Hippodrome
My attention has been drawn to a planning application which has been submitted for the conversion of this building into a multiplex cinema and retail unit. This in an area which already has two other cinema complexes. Although it is stated it could be converted back into a theatre, this would not be possible as the stage and fly tower would have been removed and, most important, scenery unloading areas blocked.
     Given this is a building which lends itself not only to a conventional proscenium arch theatre capable of housing large scale musicals, opera and ballet but also, my own preference, a theatre in the round, I must add my strong support to the campaign to keep the Hippodrome for the use it was intended. As it could also include a home for first class community arts activities, it is apparent that a revitalised Hippodrome would once more be a major addition to the cultural life of Brighton. Living in a town myself which has already seen the demise of two fine theatres due to the 'reasonable' but shortsighted thinking of the local council, I hope the same will not be said of Brighton and Hove City Council.
      —Sir Alan Ayckbourn CBE

Photo copyright Andrew Higgins

DODDY backs OBH

Thank you for your efforts to save the Brighton Hippodrome, a magnificent Grade II* listed building. There are few enough of them left and, as you probably know, Blackpool Grand is one of them. We saved that in the 70s.
      I wish you every success and hope that you get a lot of support locally and nationally for this very important campaign.
      —Ken Dodd

Don't forget: Once it's gone, it's gone.

TOP IMPRESSARIO BACKS CAMPAIGN

I do hope your campaign is successful.
      I remember the Hippodrome very well from 1964 when, as an eighteen year old, I was working for Victor Hochhauser with the Moiseyev Folk Dance Company from Russia. We played a three week season at the Royal Albert Hall immediately following the Proms and then a five week tour which I think started at Brighton. Certainly the Brighton Hippodrome was on the tour and the week there was the last full week ever at the theatre before it closed down in October 1964.
      It was a wonderful theatre with a great atmosphere and I could never understand why it was going to close. From memory, I believe it had a bigger capacity than the Theatre Royal and certainly a good sized stage as well. Brighton with its rich cultural heritage needs its Hippodrome and it would be an absolute tragedy if your wonderful initiative was not given the support it deserves to succeed.
      Good luck with everything you are doing.
Best wishes.
      —Raymond Gubbay

DAME PENELOPE KEITH and SIR ARNOLD WESKER protest about cinema proposal

Plans for the cinema conversion come close to heritage destruction of a Grade II* listed building and there will be little chance of this wonderful theatre ever being used again for live performance.
      —Penelope Keith

I was astonished to hear that yet another multi-screened cinema was being proposed for Brighton. We have two which are never full plus the Duke of York. I protest and hope the project will be abandoned especially now that the new budget has announced support for theatres in the regions.
      Good luck with your endeavours.
      —Sir Arnold Wesker FRSL

To support the campaign
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Page updated 21 September 2016