For those who may not have heard of it before, Hulme Hippodrome is a theatre building of great hiostorical and architectural value which has been on the Theatre Trusts’s Theatres At Risk list for many years.
The buidling has changed hands several times in a series of possibly improper ways, and the Save Hulme Hippodrome Campaign are looking to secure its survival against the ravages of time and its current unsound condition, before it falls beyond repair.
On 14 February Manchester City Council issued notice to owners of the building to make repairs and improvements to its exterior. Known as a Section 215 Notice, it had 11 requirements, listed below, all designed to help slow the decay of the building’s fabric.
As of the time of writing the owners have not started any of these works and instead appealed. The first hearing will occur on 29th July and we wish the Council and the SHH campaign success in getting these irresponsible people to protect the future of this important heritage building.
FOOTNOTE: There is an interesting article by a local reporter Kevin Glenton, with a particularly Mancunian take on the Hippodrome and its significance, which includes talking to members of the Save Hulme Hippodrome campaign. It’s worth a read, and you can find it by clicking here
Two welcome pieces of new from the Hulme Hippodrome , currently very much at risk through opaque ownership tangles and owners indifference. The campaigning group is string a series of meetings, held on the second Monday in each month, starting with this coming Monday May 9th at 6.30pm. Supporters, interested parties and other visitors are welcome to meet outside the Hippodrome to hear latest news about the campaign to bring the venue back into public use, and to find out how they can contribute.
Also, a university research student has been working with the Hippodrome team to identify and compile shows and performers that have appeared at the Hippodrome during its 120-year history. They hope that the results of this research project will be available soon. More news on this as it becomes available.
The ever-resourceful and positive team behind the Save Hulme Hippodrome campaign have announced this year’s Spring Festival happening this coming weekend.
The Hulme Hippodrome is a cultural landmark of Manchester and this event aims to bring this gem of a venue back to life and into the minds of local people who once swarmed to its performances year in, year out, but for the last few years has been closed and slowly deteriorating, almost to the point of no return.
The Save Hulme Hippodrome team have ambitious aims to bring the crumbling Grade II-listed Edwardian theatre back to life to serve the people of the area once again.
This coming Sunday, March 6th from 12.30pm-3.30pm you are invited to join the party (Pay what you can -tickets on the door) at the Hulme Community Garden Centre for a fun afternoon of live music and entertainment, all sorts of fun activities to join in with, with great food and drink to enjoy. With the chance to see old friends, make new ones, have some fun and enjoy a bit of food and drink into the bargain, it’s certain that everyone will have a great afternoon!
Aside from all this, you can learn the rich and unusual history of the Hippodrome and learn about the plans to revive it, its massive potential for the local communities, and how you can help.
There will be a large covered outdoor area to relax in and enjoy, just in case of rain!
Venue; Hulme Community Garden Centre, 28 Old Birley Street, Hulme, Manchester M15 5RG
Those in Manchester City Council responsible for protecting listed buildings have written to the unresponsive owners of Hulme Hippodrome insisting on urgent repair works. If repairs are not carried out then the Council has powers to do the works itself, charge the owners, and has powers to start proceedings for compulsory purchase, which would be a good thing all round in my opinion.
Meanwhile, the lively and committed campaign group Save Hulme Hippodrome have been doing some interesting research on the building’s architect.
Here’s what they found. Manchester-born multi-talented John Joseph Alley began his architectural career in his mid-50’s & was 70 before he described himself as architect. He received little architectural training. Working exclusively for WH Broadhead he designed 12 theatres in Manchester, including the Hulme Hippodrome.
Born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, JJ Alley son of John Alley, decorator & his wife Mary. Jobs inc. Lecturer of Polygraphy (printing multiple colours simultaneously); sign-writer; consulting & practical decorator & sign-writer; topographical antiquarian & scientific draughtsman, librarian & book seller, journalist, Lecturer and Public Reader, Topographic Antiquarian & Scientific Draughtsman & Modeller; journalist; illustrative journalist. He gives “Architect” as his occupation in the 1911 census, taken a year before his death.
Whatever his passions or qualifications, he produced many fine buildings of which Hulme Hippodrome is one of the last remaining examples, and should be brought back into public use as soon as possible.
The actual ownership of the Hulme Hippodrome is confounding efforts to protect it from winter damage, say the Save Hulme Hippodrome organisation, which places the theatre in further jeopardy from deterioration beyond recovery.
The Save Hulme Hippodrome group said “The current “owners” of The Hulme Hippodrome, HHM20 Limited, have now asked for a review of the Manchester City Council decision to list The Hulme Hippodrome as an asset of community value.
In our view this is delaying tactics & the ACV to protect the building has been granted on merit & any challenge merely serves to delay the upkeep.
From past experience this is “all of a piece”, meaning that the parties involved will seek to complicate matters with any public authority as far as possible in hope of causing confusion & delay. Sadly, we saw this behaviour in the previous criminal as well as civil proceedings.
Whilst they must have a fair hearing, not least because fairness benefits us too. However we need to be careful that fairness doesn’t cause delays in the urgent remedial works order made earlier this month works needed to stop the ongoing damage from rainwater ingress at scale.”
Let’s all wish them well with their preservation attempts.
On a happier final note, here’s a poster for the Hulme Hippodrome’s 1953/4 pantomime. Frank Randle was due to star but became ill and unable to appear, so comedian Ted Lune came out of retirement to star with his wife Valery Joy as Bo-Peep. According to helpful comments on the Save Hulme Hippodrome ‘s Twitter page from Jeff Hill, we learn this: “Iris Poliakova was found at a London theatre billed as “the cigar smoking strip tease artiste”. John Chilvers, the villain in this show, went on to make a significant contribution to Welsh theatre directing over 500 plays and writing pantos. Awarded MBE for his efforts.”
On October 7th, Manchester’s critically at-risk Hulme Hippodrome celebrated its 120th anniversary with images of its illustrious history are projected onto the building itself, shown to an invited audience of local people. It certainly looks like like everyone had a good time, as well as raising the profile of the beleaguered Hippodrome.
All this and cake too! Who could resist! Happy Birthday to the Hippo and best wishes to all those fighting to save it from greedy developers.
Here’s a couple of photos from the celebration, courtesy of the campaign organisers’ Twitter feed
UPDATE: on 12th October the Campaign Tweeted this – Save Hulme Hippodrome has received legal advice that building is owned by HHM20 Ltd. “We’ve reached out to the owner on numerous occasions & had no response, we’re sending call out to the owner to speak to us & work on a solution now that it can’t be sold for redevelopment.”
“We’re doubling our energy. We are even more determined to succeed. Our intention now is to put as much pressure as we can on the owner and the regulators to get the building back for Hulme and Manchester. It will not survive another winter.”