A DERELICT venue which hosted the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones is one step closer to being saved from decay.
The Brighton Hippodrome was built as an ice rink in 1897 before it was converted into a circus four years later designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham.
But earlier this year it topped the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk list for the sixth year in a row and has been unused since 2006.
It is currently owned by Hipp Investments, which revealed proposals last year to convert the Hippodrome into a hotel, spa and serviced apartments complex. The Theatres Trust believes this is “inappropriate”.
But a rival company hoping to buy the theatre and restore it to its original glory has just received a financial boost.
Not-for-profit firm Brighton Hippodrome Community Interest Company has been granted £7,000 by the Theatres Trust to fight for its case to save the theatre.
“This grant from the Theatres Trust comes at a crucial time,” company chairman Gavin Henderson said.
“It couldn’t be more timely as we move towards planning issues about restoration of the Hippodrome as the large-scale venue Brighton needs, and legal deliberations that will decide the long-term future and viability of our scheme versus a redevelopment scheme.”
Theatres Trust architecture adviser Claire Appleby hopes the money will make “real progress” towards saving the theatre.
“We know how difficult it can be for theatres to raise funding for the early stage concept and viability works and for organisational support,” she said.
“These first stages of a project provide the vital foundations for both project and organisation.
“We hope that with this support, these theatres will be able to make real progress.”
It was converted from a circus into an ice rink in 1901 by London Palladium architect Mr Matcham.
But it failed as a circus the following year and redesigned as a theatre by Bertie Crewe, financed by eccentric impresario Thomas Barrasford whose 1910 funeral was Brighton’s largest.
For much of the 20th century it was Brighton’s most popular theatre, hosting the likes of illusionist Harry Houdini, comedians Laurel and Hardy, and Rat Pack crooner Sammy Davis Jr.
But the Hippodrome closed due to financial troubles in 1964, despite having hosted The Beatles and The Rolling Stones just months before.
It reopened as a Mecca Bingo hall in 1967 before closing in 2006.