Inside the most important unused theatre in the UK
Hippodrome gallery: interior

The Hippodrome interior from 1901

Circus auditorium
Frank Matcham's first interior design in 1901 was for circus performances but included a stage with a proscenium arch. The animal entrances are the curtained areas on either side of the stage.

Circus arena
This is the reverse view, looking out from the stage.
Auditorium 1902
Matcham then made the second conversion into a variety theatre for Tom Barrasford in autumn 1902. The stage apron has been extended into the auditorium with an orchestra pit in front of it and seats filling the former circus arena.

Auditorium from stage 1904Again, this is the reverse view from the stage.

Stage 1964
In 1964, this was the stage seen from the aisle in the stalls in the film Be My Guest.

Auditorium 1964And the view from the stage is virtually unchanged from 60 years earlier, except for the central aisle.

Seating plan 1910
This is the seating plan for the stalls in Frank Matcham's variety theatre scheme of 1902, with 14 rows of seats.

Seating plan 1915
Architect J Emblin Walker re-arranged the seating in the stalls in 1915 to create a central aisle and two side aisles. The number of rows has increased to 24, the first seven of which consist of fauteuils, and there are four more boxes.

Seating plan 1910
The original doors in the entrance lobby, including the neat row to the boxes at the rear of the auditorium, are still there, as is the sign showing the way to the fauteils.

Seating plan 1915
Fauteils sign

Orchestra pit
Be My Guest provided a view of the orchestra pit from the edge of the stage.

Stage and pit
And showed some of the depth of the stage behind the pit.
The Hippodrome's bingo days

Auditorium 1980s
The auditorium in the 1980 before a mezzanine level was added above the stage.

Auditorium bingo
Auditorium 1987    Proscenium 1987
Because the building remained in use as a rather superior bingo hall from 1965 until 2006, the fabric of the building continued to be cared for. These are pictures from 1987.
Hippodrome auditorium 2013
The colour scheme for the dome was chosen to match the Mecca Bingo style.

How much of the detail can be saved for restoration remains to be seen.

Details of the rich interior
Auditorium (TT)
Hippodrome box

Box front


Balcony front

Ceiling brackets

Above proscenium

The boxes to the side of the stage, the ceiling with its galleried lantern, the balcony fronts and the detailing above the proscenium are fine examples of Frank Matcham's decorative finish to the auditorium.

The Hippodrome interior today

Auditorium 2013
Holes have been cut in the floor to investigate the various layers installed over the years.
Despite the scaffolding (put in place for access and protection), the magnificent design is still as near perfect as could be desired.

Bingo floor over stage floor rake
The original raked floor in the stalls is shown to be a considerable distance below the level of the flat floor installed for bingo.

Go to Gallery: the exterior
Go to Gallery: the shows
Go to Gallery: plans and designs
This page is being added to as we discover new images. Please come back soon (and remember to 'refresh' the page to see the latest content).

Images courtesy of The Theatres Trust, John Earl, the Frank Matcham Society and #BrightonBits