The most important unused UK theatre over the years
OBH timeline

Hippodrome chronology

• Building opens as the Real Ice-skating Rink, designed by Lewis Karslake.

July 28 Notice is published that Brighton Real Ice Skating Palace Ltd will be struck off the Companies Register in three months.
November 17 Brighton Real Ice Skating Palace Ltd is struck off the Companies Register.

• Frank Matcham is commissioned to redesign the interior of the building as a 'hippodrome' with a large circular arena for circus performances.
August 28 Hippodrome Theatre and Circus opens, with circus acts in the arena during the first half of the programme, then variety acts on the proscenium stage in the second half.

September Hippodrome is auctioned by order of mortgagees. Tom Barrasford, proprietor of music halls in the north of England, takes over the building, by now called the Hippodrome. He commissions Matcham to redesign the interior of the Hippodrome as a variety theatre, extending the stage apron, retaining the circular auditorium but with additional seating in the central arena facing the stage. December 22 The Hippodrome music hall opens. Barrasford introduces twice-nightly variety, which he has pioneered in Leeds. He moves his headquarters to Hippodrome House, where he and his wife now live. • Brighton Hippodrome Ltd incorporated (company number 73558).

September 16 Notice of dissolution of Brighton Hippodrome Ltd.

January 13 Brighton Hippodrome Ltd joint stock company is dissolved.

February 1 Tom Barrasford dies at his home, Hippodrome House, adjacent to the theatre.
• The theatre is sold to Variety Theatres Controlling Company (VTCC), headed by Walter de Frece, owner of a chain of music halls, most of them called Hippodrome.

• Architect J Emblin Walker makes changes to the auditorium and stage house.

May Acquired by Gaumont-British Picture Corporation (GBPC).

• Now part of the Moss Empires theatre chain.

• Brighton Corporation considers acquisition to secure the future of the building but decides against. The Corporations' Planning Committee suggests demolition to build a multi-storey car park.
November 22 Last Sunday night pop concert. Theatre closes.
• 20-21 Ship Street demolished and site cleared about now; it provides access to the rear of the Hippodrome.
• Associated TeleVision (ATV) takes over Stoll Theatres Corporation and Moss Empires. [Prince Littler, head of Stoll Moss, was a director of ATV.]

• Brighton County Borough Corporation considers acquisition to secure the future of the building but decides against it. The Corporation's Planning Committee reportedly favours demolition to build a multi-storey car park.

• Mecca Group acquire the Hippodrome from ATV and opens it as a bingo hall.

December 20 English Heritage lists the Hippodrome and Hippodrome House as Grade II*.

• Rank Organisation acquires Mecca Bingo.

August 8 Mecca Bingo closes.
• Between now and January 2007 Rank Organisation sells the site to Derwent London.

January 31 Derwent London values Dukes Lane and the Hippodrome site at £13.1m.
February 16 Academy Music Group (AMG, of which LiveNation is principal shareholder) acquires 30-year lease.
June 11 Planning application submitted.
September 6 Planning application withdrawn before being determined.
September 12? Derwent London sells Dukes Lane and the Hippodrome site to Cheval Properties for £20.0m. Defined as 'A multi-let central shopping centre and entertainment venue totaling 5,950m2 and producing £0.9 million per annum'. Of this an estimated £0.2m comes from the AMG lease.
September 12 Allied Irish Banks becomes mortgagee.

• The Hippodrome is included on The Theatres Trust list of Theatre Buildings at RIsk (TBAR).

February 24 LiveNation expects to submit a planning application for a scheme costing more than £9m.
July 27 Squatters are evicted from Hippodrome House.
summer/autumn Academy Music Group/LiveNation abandons music venue proposal following advice from BHCC Licensing Panel that a late-night licence is at best unlikely.
October 29 LiveNation presents cinema/restaurant plans to The Theatres Trust.
November 20 LiveNation presents cinema/restaurant plan to BHCC.

February 11 Site visit by Mark Price (The Theatres Trust), Sam Johnson (English Heritage), Russ Duly (LiveNation), Rob Fraser (BHCC), Russ Drage and Rich Brown (Russ Drage Architects) and Chris Moore (Alaska). Proposal is for an eight-screen cinema and restaurant.
April 18 Indigo Planning meeting with BHCC planning department and Russ Drage Architects. Plans are for cinema and restaurants include new structures. No specific mention of Vue.
April 21 The Argus reports plans to turn the Hippodrome into a cinema. 'An amazing opportunity'—Cllr Geoffrey Bowden.
April 24 Indigo tells BHCC that the site area is 0.49ha and thus not subject to an Environmental Imact Assessment (EIA). Council agrees on 28 May.
May 21 Site visit by developers and BHCC officers.
June 6 Site visit by developers with BHCC officers and English Heritage.

  2013 continued
October 11 Planning officer Adrian Smith's formal pre-application advice to Indigo Planning, dismissing the need for any more theatres.
October 15 English Heritage pre-application advice to Indigo Planning.
October 18 (17:00-21:00) and 19 (10:00-14:00) Public exhibition of plans in the Hippodrome Service Yard.
October 20 Professor Gavin Henderson, principal of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and former director of the Brighton Festival, convenes a meeting at the Friends Meeting House. The packed hall hears presentations for and against the proposed cinema development.
November 8 David Fisher posts an e-petition on the BHCC website urging BHCC to preserve the theatre. It achieves 1,199 signatures.
December 20 Planning applications BH2013/04348 and /04351 submitted by Indigo Planning on behalf of Kuig Property Investments No 6. Rejected by BHCC as incomplete.

February 8 First meeting of Our Brighton Hippodrome organised by Jevon Antoni-Jay.
February 11 Planning applications registered.
March 14 OBH petition started on 38 Degrees. It achieves over 11,600 signatues.
July 9 OBH asks the Secretary of State to call in the planning applications, nominates the Hippodrome as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and submits an FOI request to see the District Valuer's report.
July 16 BHCC planning committee approves Kuig/Alaska/Indigo application.
July 18 OBH petition started asking the Secretary of State to call in the application. It achieves 2,869 signatures.
July 31 OBH Viability Study issued.
September 18 The Theatres Trust press conference about Theatre Buildings at Risk (TBAR) at the Theatre Royal. The Hippodrome is #1 on the list, partly because of the threatened conversion.
September 19 Planning minister Brandon Lewis rejects the call-in request.
October 13 OBH Business Plan 01 issued.
November 28 Planning approval decided. Agreement between BHCC, Kuig Property Investments No 6 and Allied Irish Banks signed.
December Kuig puts Dukes Lane and the Hippodrome on the market with a target price of £22m.

April 14 Brighton Hippodrome CIC is incorporated as a Community Interest Company.
April 23 OBH and Brighton Hippodrome CIC re-nominate the Hippodrome as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
April 24 The Hippodrome site is acquired by Academy Music Group.
June 2 Brighton Hippodrome CIC and OBH meet with Academy Music Group and others at the Theatres Trust. This leads to the formation of a Stakeholder Group. AMG allows the group a six-month window of opportunity to develop plans.
July 22 Inception meeting of the Stakeholder Group with Colliers International, appointed to produce an options and viability report.
September 17 Brighton Hippodrome is #1 on The Theatres Trust list of Theatre Buildings at Risk (TBAR) for the third year running.

September 12 Brighton Hippodrome is #1 on The Theatres Trust list of Theatre Buildings at Risk (TBAR) for the fourth year running.


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Page updated 1 June 2017
Compilation © David Fisher, used with permission