Numerous developments regarding “Theatre at Risk” Hulme Hippodrome

Hulme Hippodrome is unlikely to last much longer without major interventions.

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 facts behind the current obfuscation about the ownership of Hulme Hippodrome

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.”