The Victorian Society has released its list of the ten outstanding UK buildings most at risk for 2020. The list’s only theatre this year is the rare survival, the Brighton Hippodrome.
Brighton Hippodrome, designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham, is the country’s finest surviving example of a circus theatre. The building was originally built in 1897 as an ice rink, but it was transformed by a major rebuilding into a circus in 1901. It was once a thriving hub of entertainment, but today it sits empty and rotting. The most spectacular feature is the circular auditorium with its richly decorated ceiling in the form of a panelled tent. Schemes for a multiplex cinema, a new hotel, spa and serviced apartments were all announced but never materialised as the building went through a variety of owners. In September 2020, the building was sold to Brighton-based Matsim Properties. The Victorian Society says “The building remains vacant and urgent works are required. These should be urgently undertaken to prevent further deterioration until a viable and sympathetic new use can be found for this impressive building”.
Griff Rhys Jones, President of the Victorian Society, said: “Brighton is a thriving city with a vibrant culture. If anywhere can support such a unique venue it is Brighton. In Blackpool, the restored winter gardens are being used to revive the towns fortunes. With staycations likely to increase in popularity and Brighton’s easy access to London, surely Matsim Properties can develop a plan which makes sensitive use of this building? What is clear is that losing many more years with nothing happening risks any of the building surviving.“
For the full list of 2020’s Most Endangered Buildings, click here