Time Travel Theatre: Let’s take a stroll around the West End – in 1975

Perhaps you, like me, dream of travelling back in time to see a particular show or star, and although some productions were filmed in some manner or other, most have been lost to the mists of time.

Here is just a fleeting chance to roam London’s West End in 1975, where we can stroll and admire the exteriors of some of London’s finest theatres, and see the shows that kept them going then.

You’ll catch glimpses of The Lyric, Globe and Apollo (all on Shaftesbury Avenue), the Adelphi and Vaudeville (on the Strand), and close by, the Strand, Duchess and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Enjoy this four-minute nostalgia trip, courtesy of British Pathe.

Hulme Hippodrome needs your help!

Manchester’s at-risk Hulme Hippodrome needs your support to survive a recent change in its status.

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 from the Save Hulme Hippodrome group, 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.

On Friday 14 October, the Charity Commission took over legal control of the Hulme Hippodrome building, and the immediate danger is that they will allow a property developer to use the site for a new block of apartments. 

The Save Hulme Hippodrome campaign secured the major support of angel investor in 2021, and the latest offer to buy building was made on 6 October 2022,

The campaign calls on the Charity Commission to do the right thing and use their substantial powers to give The Hippodrome building back to community which needs its potential greatly.

You can see two related items about the campaign below:

Letter from Lucy Powell, the MP for the district within which the Hippodrome sits:

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

And, here, the press release from the Save Hulme Hippodrome campaigners.

HOW YOU CAN HELP Add your name here to support this open letter to the CEO of Charity Commission requesting that they act to save Hulme Hippodrome for the community. THANK YOU!

For more information about the Save Hulme Hippodrome group, see below.

25th October is also European Historic Theatres Day!

This Tuesday, 25 October, to celebrate European Historic Theatres Day, there is an illustrated talk at the V&A.

EUROPE’S NATIONAL THEATRES will be presented by Mike Sell (aided and abetted by Mark Fox).

As has now become custom, The Frank Matcham Society, in association with The Victoria and Albert Museum celebrate PERSPECTIV’s European Historic Theatres Day with an illustrated talk.Mike Sell, Vice-President of The Frank Matcham Society draws on his extensive travels and knowledge of European theatres to investigate the development of, and need for, National Theatres across an often troubled and divided continent.

Mike Sell is a historian and author specialising in theatre architecture who co-edited Curtains – a new life for old theatres and The Theatres Trust Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950; contributed to books Frank Matcham Theatre Architect and Frank Matcham and Co; authored Theatres and Concert Halls of Fellner and Helmer and in 2020 marked the centenary of Frank Matcham’s death publishing the Society’s Matcham Directory.

You could add to your day by visiting the new displays in the museum’s Theatre and Performance Galleries including the newly opened Re:Imagining Musicals. Entrance is free and the museum opens at 10am.

25 October 2.30pm

Hochhauser Auditorium, Victoria and Albert Museum,

The Sackler Courtyard Entrance,

Exhibition Road, South Kensington London SW7 2RL

Tickets only available from Ticketsource at www.ticketsource.co.uk (search for Frank Matcham Society)

(Tickets will not be available on the door or from the V&A)

25th October is THEATRECRAFT! Participate in-person or online

If you are aged 16-30 (or know others who are), and have an interest in the theatre as a potential future career, then you simply cannot afford to miss the invaluable, totally FREE, once-a-year event that is TheatreCraft 2022.

This year, on Tuesday 25th October, the doors of the Royal Opera House will open to the main event, with a wide range of events featuring top industry names, all ready to share their thoughts and insight with you. And with dozens of bookable workshops happening both online and at three nearby theatres, there is a huge range of things to do, see and participate in.

Responding to the shift to hybrid events, this year you can watch several key panel discussions LiveStreamed online on the Official London Theatre YouTube channel, which you can find here , including from 11.00am to 12 noon MAKING THEATRE AFFORDABLE, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm MAKING THEATRE SUSTAINABLE, from 2.30pm to 3.30pm MAKING THEATRE WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES, and from 4.00pm to 5.00pm FREELANCERS MAKE THEATRE HAPPEN. Watch te live throughout the day on the YouTube link above!

TheatreCraft is the only major event focused on offstage careers, in other words anything but acting. Lighting, Directing, Choreography, Writing, Sound, Music, Costume, Props, Stage Combat, Stage Management, Venue Management and more are all represented. Workshops allow a rare opportunity to hear firsthand from experts about what they do and how they do it. In most events there is also time for questions from the audience, so you can get more involved.

Having been a small part of the management of this event for three years, I can tell you firsthand that there is no better place to go to boost your knowledge and meet thousands of like-minded people. It’s a great day which you should not miss!

The day itself is run by a fantastic team of fun, hard-working volunteers and the industry participants all give their time free to be involved. 

TheatreCraft is organised by a group of committed partners from across the creative and cultural industries: the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust, the Royal Opera House, the Society of London Theatre and Mousetrap Theatre Projects.

For more information and all the latest news about TheatreCraft visit www.theatrecraft.org or find them on Twitter @TheatreCraft.

Read my Autumn Theatre Preview in BARBICAN LIFE magazine

Those of you who live in, near or visit the Barbican Centre, you may be interested to know that the Barbican Estate’s engaging magazine produced by the Barbican Association, BARBICAN LIFE, features a number of interesting articles.

I have been contributing Theatre Previews of events in and around the Barbican Centre for several years now. The Barbican Centre hosts a wide-ranging collection of productions which are always interesting, with many visiting companies from around the world adding to an eclectic programme of home-grown and Barbican Associate- generated projects. A trip to the Barbican Centre is always an illuminating one.

Read my latest Theatre Preview here